Admit it; we all – myself included – groan a little when Bailey Falter makes a start for the Phillies. His major league success is non-existent and he simply has not shown that he can be counted on to give the Phillies any sort of quality innings to keep them in games, unless their offense is on a tear.
Here’s the thing though. Falter is still a potential for the future. Nobody has ever projected him as a top of the rotation starter and everything would have to go right for him to be a mid-rotation guy. What he can be is a back of the rotation guy who can give some quality starts in the majors.
The Phillies will roll Falter out in game two of the day-night doubleheader Saturday as they use him as their 27th man. In his career, Falter is 0-1 against the Mets with a 5.40 ERA in two games – one start – equaling just five innings of work. Part of the problem has been control as he walked four Mets batters in his five innings, striking out three.
Overall, control has not been an issue for Falter, who has a 4.18 SO/W ratio and an MLB strikeout percentage of 23.00, which is average for a major league pitcher. His walk percentage stands at 5.5-percent, below the MLB average of 8.5-percent.
In a recent Triple-A game against Syracuse, Falter had one bad inning – the third – when he gave up three runs, one on an RBI double and the other on a two-run home run to Francisco Alvarez, one of the top prospects in baseball. After that, he was solid, which points to one problem. That one big inning that Falter always seems to have. Despite the recent promotions of Mick Abel and Adam Painter, the Phillies are generally slow to push minor league players. One of their favorite things to do is to limit their pitch count and even though Falter had found a groove and was throwing well, they brought him out for the seventh inning only to see him get the first out on two pitches and then pulled him. His pitch count for the day was 77, with 59 of them being strikes.
At that point, Falter had retired 12 of the 14 he faced since allowing the home run and he was at the bottom of the Syracuse Mets order, wrapping up his third time through the order. There was no reason for his exit other than that watchful eye on the pitch count. In 20 games this season between the majors and Triple-A, Falter has hit the 80-pitch mark just five times.
Falter’s next start against Charlotte on August 10 was even more egregious. He had allowed just one hit and one walk through six innings. His 80th pitch of the game was used to get the third out in the sixth and give him 13 straight Knights retired. Where was Falter for the seventh? On the dugout bench. He was removed for a rehab appearance by Sam Coonrod, which could have been pushed back at least one more inning to allow Falter to see what he could do once over the 80-pitch milestone. The three outs in the sixth were the first three batters in the order, marking the start of his third time though the order. Why not look to see what he can do on that third time through benchmark?
In Falter’s last two Triple-A starts, he has a combined line of 12 1/3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 11 SO, 46 BF with 157 pitches, 121 for strikes. If you do the math, it comes out to a 2.92 ERA. On the season at Lehigh Valley, Falter is 4-1 with a 1.91 ERA.
There is something there in Bailey Falter, the problem is getting it to translate to MLB games.