The Philadelphia Phillies announced Friday that they have claimed reliever Ryan Sherriff off of waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays.
The 31-year-old southpaw spent the majority of the 2021 season in Triple-A, posting a 2.81 ERA across 32 appearances with Durham. Sherriff didn’t fare quite as well in his limited Major League workload, compiling a 5.52 mark in just 14 2/3 innings.
Sherriff struck out 9.8 batters per nine innings while walking 5.5 with Tampa Bay, a year after firing 9 2/3 scoreless innings though only punching out two with the Rays in 2020.
It’s the second straight offseason the Phillies have added a left-handed reliever from Tampa Bay, with José Alvarado joining the club as part of a three-team deal last December. Their profiles aren’t exactly identical — Sherriff’s sinker sits in the low 90s while Alvarado frequently cracks triple digits — but both rely heavily on their wipeout sliders, and the Phillies are clearly taking a shot on low-risk, high-upside pitchers who didn’t quite have a consistent role in what is perennially a stacked Rays bullpen.
Sherriff, who has two minor league options, figures to open the season with a solid shot at cracking the opening day roster, particularly given the Phillies’ lack of left-handed options. Alvarado is still under team control, but beyond him, JoJo Romero is coming off of Tommy John surgery, Bailey Falter’s role is unclear and Damon Jones has thrown just 1/3 of an inning in the Majors.
Sherriff is the first part of a project to restock the Phillies’ bullpen, which once again ranked near the bottom of the league last season, despite taking a step forward from 2020’s infamously bad unit. Several pieces of the 2021 group have uncertain futures with the team, including Archie Bradley, Ian Kennedy and Héctor Neris, who became free agents earlier this week. Depending on how the chips fall around him, Sherriff could find his way into the Phillies’ bullpen come 2022 — or, at the very least, offer organizational bullpen depth that the team has lacked in recent years.
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