Dave Roberts: Evan Phillips To Get ‘Brunt’ Of Save Opportunities But Not Full-Time Dodgers Closer

The Los Angeles Dodgers entered the 2023 season without a set closer, but Evan Phillips eventually settled into the role and continued to pitch at an elite level.

The right-hander finished the year with 24 saves, a 2.05 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 0.83 WHIP and averaged 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings across 62 relief appearance.

As the Dodgers now look ahead to setting their bullpen for the 2024 season, manager Dave Roberts expects Phillips to handle the majority of save situations but stopped short of committing to him as the exclusive closer. “I definitely don’t think it’s going to be like it was last year,” Roberts began.

“I think with Evan, what he did in that role, he did a very nice job. I wouldn’t say committee. It’s a good conversation. I don’t think we need to make it right now. I do see Evan doing the brunt of the closing of games.

“But I still believe it’s prudent to kind of keep that door open where if there’s opportunities in the eighth inning where I think he’s the best option to help us win a baseball game to do that.

“So I’m going to have a conversation with him. But I think our bullpen is going to be a position of strength for us.”

One could argue that Phillips’ true value comes in filling a fireman role, but Roberts believes he has earned the opportunity to close on a regular basis. “He certainly has. I think he has earned it,” Roberts answered when asked if Phillips deserves the Dodgers closer job.

“So then the question is, what’s best for the ballclub? That’s kind of an ongoing discussion. I think as far as once we got some things tightened up last year, our bullpen was one of the best in baseball.

“So I don’t think there’s one way to do it. But certainly if you’re looking at can he do it? Has he earned it? Does he deserve it? Absolutely.”

Phillips was one of the few constants in the Dodgers bullpen last season as he enjoyed a stellar first half and then helped stabilize the unit after taking over as closer.

“I will say that when he closed a lot of games, he still pitched in the eighth inning too,” Roberts said. “So he didn’t just pitch in the ninth inning and close games when our bullpen was thriving.”

Evan Phillips ranked by The Shredder for 2024

Phillips placed fourth on the list of MLB Top-10 Relief Pitchers Right Now for the 2024 season. He also ranked fourth when debuting on The Shredder rankings heading into 2023.

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