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New lefty relievers could spell exit for Morgan

Adam Morgan
Adam Morgan pitches in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 10, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

In less than a week, the Phillies have added left-handers James Pazos and Jose Alvarez to their bullpen in trades with Seattle and the L.A. Angels, respectively. If you’re Adam Morgan, you have to be wondering if a pretty stern message is arriving along with the Christmas card from your employer.

Pazos and Alvarez come to town with impressive 2018 seasons under their belts. Pazos was 4-1, 2.88 in 60 relief appearances with the Mariners last season. He wasn’t the spotlight of the trade that brought Jean Segura to the Phillies, but he certainly wasn’t a throw-in either; that was Juan Nicasio. Pazos throws hard, has good command of his pitches and has learned to pitch confidently.

Alvarez was 6-4 with a 2.71 ERA last season and held left-handed hitters to a .206 batting average in 2018. It’s somewhat surprising that the Angels gave up Alvarez for right-hander Luis Garcia. The most likely reason is the potential raise that Alvarez will receive in his second season of arbitration. Garcia (3-1, 6.07 in 2018) is also a second-year arbitration eligible player, but because of the disparity in stats, is likely to garner much less of a raise than is Alvarez.

RELATED: Phillies acquire Jose Alvarez from the Angels

With two new southpaws, Morgan could become a piece of another trade yet to come. If that doesn’t happen, he could find himself pitching in spring training hoping to find a spot in the bullpen. If Morgan isn’t dealt, it’s worth noting that both he and Alvarez are out of options, while Pazos still has two options remaining. It would admittedly take a lot for Morgan to win a spot over Pazos though.

Morgan finished 0-2 with a 3.83 ERA in 67 relief appearances with the Phillies as a lefty specialist in 2018. He pitched 49 1/3 innings and struck out 50 batters. Left-handers hit a healthy .267 against Morgan, while right-handed hitters hit Morgan at a .250 clip.

Morgan was the model of inconsistency in 2018, which has been much of the story of his career. After a slow start, Morgan was able to get into a groove and lowered his ERA to 1.76 with 2/3 of an inning against the Dodgers on May 28th. From there, his ERA worked its way up to 5.57 just under a month later. Morgan had 13 straight scoreless outings in late April through May only to allow earned runs in three of his next four appearances. His ERA in June was 12.86 in 12 appearances.

One stat that saved Morgan was that when he got into trouble, he had a way of working out of it. With runners in scoring position and two outs, Morgan allowed opponents just a .219 batting average, a big difference from opponents batting .279 as the first guy that Morgan faced or the .265 average he allowed with the bases empty.

The Phillies had Morgan in the starting rotation through much of his minor league career and he started 36 games with the Phillies in 2015 and 2016. He moved to the bullpen full-time in 2017 and made a career-high 67 appearances this past season.

It should be mentioned that in addition to adding two lefties, the Phillies also dropped left-hander Luis Avilan when they decided against offering him a contract for 2019, making him a free agent on November 30th. Avilan was acquired from the White Sox for minor league pitcher Felix Paulino on August 22nd and pitched in 12 games with the Phillies, working to a 3.18 ERA.

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