2. Evan Phillips
This difficult decision came to pass only because … well … it’s fairly obvious the Dodgers can turn almost anyone into a competent reliever at this point.
Therefore, the least-essential member of the relief corps, at the moment, is the one with the lowest upside, and that’s Evan Phillips.
The 27-year-old journeyman recorded very little MLB time in 2021, throwing 10.1 competent innings with the Dodgers (3.48 ERA, eight hits, a not-great five walks) before appearing in two NLCS games and actually … starring, striking out six in three scoreless.
Phillips’ fastball spin has never been anything special, though, ranking in the 42nd percentile back in 2020. Los Angeles likely took a flyer on Phillips for depth purposes last year, and it seems to have worked, but based on his trajectory and underlying numbers, he’s the least likely pitcher to hold onto a spot at the fringes of LA’s ‘pen.
Again. Numbers game.
Look at the quote-unquote “non-essential” names the Dodgers are carrying for the middle innings. In addition to top prospect Andre Jackson taking up a slot, LA will be bringing Phil Bickford, Justin Bruihl, Caleb Ferguson, Victor González, Tommy Kahnle and Alex Vesia to camp, all of whom have shown more than Phillips has. Cuban left-hander Darian Nuñez struggled mightily at the big-league level in a short cameo, but LA will not be jettisoning a left-hander who whiffed 83 men in 53 minor-league innings in 2021.
Phillips has drawn the short end of the stick, and deserves more big-league innings in 2022 … but not in favor of any of the names listed above.