Through the Dodgers oft-talked about struggles on the mound, from starters to relievers, one constant reason to be optimistic has been reliever Evan Phillips. With a 2.55 ERA and 7 saves in his 26 appearances this season, Phillips has earned the admiration of his manager.
“He commands a strike zone, he has different weapons to get guys out, and he is completely neutral,” Roberts said. “I don’t need information to know that he’s always the best option. And so now with that, it’s: When do you deploy that silver bullet that you have?”(Via The New York Times)
Despite being perhaps one of the best relief pitchers in today’s game, Phillips has had a long path to becoming a key part of the Dodgers’ potential path to postseason success.
Initially drafted in the 33rd round of the 2012 draft, Phillips decided to play college baseball and was selected in the 17th round of the 2015 draft by the Atlanta Braves. Phillips made a few appearances for Atlanta before being traded to the Baltimore Orioles in the midst of some of their worst consecutive seasons in recent history. The Orioles dropped him after 3 seasons only for the Rays to claim him off of waivers and drop him after one appearance.
“I feel like I’ve been through the worst in this game,” Phillips said to the New York Times. “So when I’m out there and it looks like it’s a hot situation for a relief pitcher, I feel as cool as can be.”(Via The New York Times)
With the Dodgers currently sporting one of the worst team bullpen ERAs, which only got worse in Wednesday’s loss to the Chicago White Sox, Phillips’ consistency and levelheadedness is a model all Dodger relievers should follow. Currently the Dodger bullpen has a 4.90 ERA, better than only the dreadful Oakland A’s.
While the Dodgers can’t employ Phillips to end each and every game, perhaps some of his confidence and competence could rub off on some of the other relievers.
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