Dodgers pitcher Evan Phillips established himself in 2022 as one of the top relievers in baseball. For a guy who had a 7.50 ERA in his first three seasons in the big leagues, you could say that was an unexpected turn of events. But it probably wasn’t for the Dodgers, who saw something in Phillips when they claimed him off waivers from the Rays in late 2021.
Phillips was solid in the 2021 regular season for Los Angeles and then excellent in the postseason, setting the table for a 2022 season in which he posted a 1.14 ERA in 63 innings pitched. His slider has become one of the most effective pitches in baseball, and his command — just 15 walks all season — made him nearly unhittable.
Phillips is aware of his success and that he has built a reputation in the league, but he’s trying not to think too much about that, as he told Dodger Nation’s Doug McKain recently.
“You know, I’m trying not to to notice it. I still think of myself the same way I did last year. I just want to go out there and do what I can on a day-to-day basis to help us win. I think keeping that external mindset has really helped my personal goals stay out of the way.
“Obviously, I’m very thrilled to be in the position I am now, but in my opinion, I think there’s still more plenty more I can do. …
“When I first got here, I was dealing with a lot of self-doubt and confidence issues from being where I was, in the position I put myself in. So coming to this team and putting on this uniform, that alone should give you confidence, so these guys believed in me from day one, they believed what I could be, and we stuck to that process and they laid out a blueprint and said, ‘Hey, if you can check off these boxes and do these things, we think you can have success,’ and I think we proved that last year.”
Phillips’ humility is evident. When he talks about his struggles with Atlanta and Baltimore, it’s “the position I put myself in.” But when he talks about his remarkable success last year, it’s “I think we proved that last year.”
Phillips is committed to sticking to the script that worked so well in 2022, so hopefully he can replicate that success in 2023.
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