For all intents and purposes, Adam Morgan made the Phillies bullpen roster when Alec Asher was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles earlier in the week. The Phillies needed a long-man in the pen and Morgan and Asher were the only true candidates. Plus, with no lefties in the bullpen, Morgan had another check in his column. Joely Rodriguez has worked as a starter in the past and was another long-man candidate, but showed last season, that his best work is done in relatively small spurts. Again, being a left-hander didn't hurt his cause when it came down to filling the final two spots on the Phillies corps of relievers.
As for Luis Garcia, there was a lot to like about him, especially since he added a split-finger pitch during the offseason and showed it off well during Spring Training. Maybe instead of working on a new pitch, he should have worked on throwing left-handed. Maybe he and Pat Venditte can work on that in the IronPigs bullpen, where they'll both be to open the season.
Truth is, Garcia, 30, showed that the splitter can be an effective pitch for him and he also showed better command than we've seen in the past, issuing just one walk in 10 2/3 innings of work this spring. Fact is though, that his ERA was still 5.91 in eight games. Much of the damage came early in Spring, when he allowed 10 earned runs in his first four innings of work. He then put together a stretch of five straight relief appearances without allowing a run, but got hit around by Detroit on Wednesday - two earned runs on five hits in two innings - and that likely was somewhat of a deciding factor. It also didn't help that Rodriguez had a 3.00 ERA this Spring, while Morgan posted a 2.45 ERA.
Morgan, 27, who just missed making last year's roster as a starter, is transitioning to working out of the bullpen. He seemed settled in with the role this Spring, but we'll have to see how he handles the rigors of being up and down in the pen and having to come in to difficult game situations at times. The truth is, that Morgan wasn't going to get a shot at making the team's starting rotation and if he hadn't pitched well as a reliever, he could have been one of the players up for consideration to remove from the 40-man roster. Actually, any of the remaining three could have been candidates.
Two of Morgan's 23 appearances with the Phillies last season were out of the bullpen, when he came in against Arizona on June 29 and against Kansas City on July 2. In his first outing, he came on with a runner on and allowed a walk, but also picked up a strikeout in 2/3 of an inning. His next outing as a reliever, he started the seventh inning and wound up pitching three innings, giving up one earned run on three hits and a walk.
While Morgan figures to the the call as a long reliever, it's going to be interesting to see how he's used.
The 25-year old Rodriguez was also a starting pitcher at one time. Acquired from the Pirates for lefty Antonio Bastardo in December, 2014, Rodriguez posted a 6.32 ERA with Lehigh Valley in 13 starts in 2015 and wasn't much better at Double-A Reading, where he had a 5.90 ERA in eight starts and 11 relief appearances.
Last season was the first where Rodriguez pitched exclusively as a reliever and the numbers were much better. He made a combined 53 appearances with Clearwater, Reading and Lehigh Valley, going 7-0 with a 2.35 ERA. His performance was good enough to gain a promotion to Philadelphia, where he was 0-0 with a 2.79 ERA in 12 relief appearances. His command was slightly suspect though, with four walks in 9 2/3 innings of work.
Ironically, last season in the majors, Rodriguez has pitched much better against right-handed hitters, who hit .125 (2-for-16), than left-handers, who managed a .333 (6-for-18) average against him. In the minors last season, lefties hit .195 (17-for-87) against Rodriguez, while right-handed batters hit .257 (48-187)