The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Zach Phillips from the Baltimore Orioles for Kyle Lobstein in late August and he has yet to allow a run in his Pirate career.
Many times in Major League Baseball trades are made that are ignored. One such trade was made back on August 31st when the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles swapped a pair of left-handed Triple-A relief pitchers. The two pitchers in this trade were Kyle Lobstein and Zach Phillips.
This trade was overlooked for good reason. Neither Lobstein nor Phillips were pitching in the Major Leagues at the time. Additionally, neither had a history of much Major League success. Since joining the Pirates, though, Phillips has pitched very well.
In the month of September Zach Phillips has pitched 5 2/3 innings for the Pirates. In these 5 2/3 innings pitched he has not allowed a run, he has a 1.09 WHIP, and he has a struck out six batters. This has led to Phillips posting a 1.55 FIP, a 2.74 xFIP, and a 0.2 WAR in his extremely small sample size. Most importantly, Zach Phillips rocks an amazing mullet. I’m talking Billy Ray Cyrus circa 1994 mullet.
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Phillips has also been used to help put out fires that other pitchers start. And he has done a good job of this. Zach Phillips has inherited 13 runners in the month of September, and only three have come around to score. It never hurts to have an arm in your bullpen that can help in jams like these.
In his Major League career Zach Phillips has pitched 21 innings between the Orioles, Marlins, and Pirates. 21 innings is still a very small sample size, however, in these 21 innings he has produced good results. He owns 20 strikeouts, a 2.57 ERA, and a 4.11 xFIP in these 20 innings pitched.
This season Phillips is holding opposing hitters to a .211 batting average against. For his career he’s allowed just a .240 opponent batting average against. His career WHIP of 1.38 is also an encouraging stat.
Throughout his career Phillips has thrown a strong fastball. Opposing hitters own just a .111 batting average, .158 wOBA, and a wRC+ of 4 off of Phillips’ fastball. His change up, .267 wOBA and 77 wRC+ against, has also been a strong pitch in his Major League career.
Zach Phillips is under team control through the 2022 season. Due to this if the Pirates have found something in Phillips, they can reap the benefits for a long time. I am not saying that Phillips should be a part of the Pirates’ long term plans, just that it is a possibility.
Luckily for the Pirates, Phillips has options left. Due to this he can begin the 2017 season at Triple-A Indianapolis. And this is what I expect to happen. I look for Phillips to begin 2017 at Triple-A, but to be a player that we see in Pittsburgh next season. The Pirates just might have stumbled across a nice bullpen option in Zach Phillips.