It wasn’t quite Gabe Kapler saying Hoby Milner was “nasty, brother,” but Philadelphia Phillies rookie left-hander Bailey Falter got some ringing endorsements after limiting the San Francisco Giants to one run in three innings Friday.
Falter – who also pitched three scoreless innings in Los Angeles earlier this week – has caught the eye of Bryce Harper, who was very complimentary of him after a series-opening loss to the Giants.
“Yeah, he’s nasty,” Harper said of Falter. “I really like him a lot. He goes out there and throws strikes. He’s got four pitches that he throws strikes with. And when you’re able to do that in the big leagues, you’re gonna have success. Like you said, he made one bad pitch to [Brandon] Belt tonight, and it happens.
“I’ve been very impressed by him the last two outings. He’s helped us out a lot, [he’s] kept our bullpen fresh. Him and Ranger [Suárez] kind of have that same mentality of going out there, throwing balls over the plate and not being afraid to go out there and throw against some of the best guys in the league. So, I’m very happy to see that and very excited for him. And I mean, the other day, Cristopher Sánchez also, I though he threw the ball really well. Those are three big lefties that if they have success, we’re going to have success as a team. And that was huge for us tonight by Bailey to keep us in there.”
Falter made his major league debut in Colorado on April 25, allowing two runs on four hits in a 12-2 loss to the Rockies before being optioned back to Triple-A. But even with a relatively underwhelming first cup of coffee at the major league level, it was hard for the Phillies not to give Falter a more extended look given how he’s pitched at Lehigh Valley.
After not pitching at all in 2020 because of the cancellation of the minor league season, Falter, a fifth-round pick in 2015, has been excellent for the IronPigs. In seven games – six of which have been starts – Falter is 2-0 with a 1.82 ERA.
John Kruk pointed out on Friday’s telecast how Falter’s stuff plays up because the 6-foot-4, 175 pound lefty has such a long stride to the plate. His results at both Triple-A and in the majors this year suggest that his four-seam fastball – which has averaged a relatively modest 92.4 mph at the majors this year – gets on hitters quicker than a pitch of that velocity typically would.
Falter’s manager, Joe Girardi, echoed those same sentiments Friday.
“He attacks the zone with a number of different pitches, and he seems to locate,” Girardi said. “His fastball plays harder than what is reads on the gun because his extension is so good. But he attacks, and he’s done a really nice job for us.”
Like Harper, Girardi mentioned Falter’s four-pitch repertoire – four-seam fastball, changeup, slider and curveball – when asked about whether the lefty’s future will be as a starter or reliever.
“Well, I think he could probably do both. I mean it’s really early to tell, but early readings on him, I definitely think he can do both because he has four pitches. And his curveball will continue to develop, and he has ways to get righties and lefties out.”
The Phillies struggles to consistently develop major league talent from their farm system have been well documented, and offer a glimpse into why they’re trying to avoid missing the postseason for a 10th consecutive season. But for an organization that really has developed pretty much nothing in the way of left-handed pitching – starting or relieving – in recent years, Falter could offer something of a silver lining.
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