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All-Star Game

Evan Phillips didn’t make the All-Star team, but he still might

Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Five Dodgers made the National League All-Star roster. That includes three starting position players, their most in 43 years, plus a legend and a newcomer behind the plate. The group does not include Evan Phillips, the team’s best reliever for two years running.

This year Phillips has a 1.91 ERA with 39 strikeouts and seven walks in 33 innings, with 11 saves. He leads the NL with a .788 WHIP, and ranks fouth in the league in bWAR (1.5).

Since joining the Dodgers in August 2021, Phillips’ 1.61 ERA is the third-lowest in the majors among pitchers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Edwin Díaz and Emmanuel Clase.

Making the All-Star Game as a relief pitcher is difficult work. You need to stand out, either with gaudy save totals or an absurdly-low ERA. The four relievers on the NL All-Star roster are also the top four in the league in saves this year.

NL All-Star relief pitchers & Evan Phillips

Pitcher IP Saves ERA xERA FIP WHIP K-BB rate fWAR bWAR
Pitcher IP Saves ERA xERA FIP WHIP K-BB rate fWAR bWAR
Alexis Díaz 37 23 (2nd) 2.19 (14th) 3.02 (19th) 2.37 (3rd) 1.027 (17th) 25.8% (7th) 1.6 (1st) 2.2 (1st)
Josh Hader 29⅔ 18 (3rd) 1.21 (1st) 1.71 (1st) 2.21 (2nd) 0.944 (6th) 25.6% (10th) 1.2 (3rd) 1.4 (t-7th)
Camilo Doval 38 24 (1st) 1.89 (6th) 2.71 (9th) 2.92 (14th) 1.053 (24th) 23.1% (17th) 1.0 (t-4th) 1.7 (2nd)
Devin Williams 29⅔ 17 (4th) 1.52 (3rd) 3.16 (21st) 3.59 (36th) 0.978 (9th) 19.7% (28th) 0.4 (t-35th) 1.5 (t-5th)
Evan Phillips 33 11 (t-8th) 1.91 (8th) 3.40 (32nd) 2.83 (12th) 0.788 (1st) 26.2% (4th) 0.7 (t-18th) 1.6 (4th)
NL ranks among qualified relievers Sources: FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant

That group also has been very good in other areas. Phillips has comparable statistics, but that gets into how difficult it is for relievers to crack the squad, and the process in picking pitchers.

All-Star rosters are 32 players in each league, 20 position players and 12 pitchers. Players vote for five starting pitchers and three relievers. The league office picking the last four pitchers, who could be starters or relievers.

This is how the players voted for National League relievers:

Alexis Díaz, Reds: 134 votes
Josh Hader, Padres: 127 votes
Camilo Doval, Giants: 92 votes

All three are worthy All-Star choices. Major League Baseball does not reveal full player voting totals, only showing the votes for the folks to made it. But considering there are upwards of 700-800 players voting, one would imagine there are a number of players reasonably near Doval’s 92 votes. Maybe Phillips is one of them.

After fan voting (nine position players) and player voting (nine position players, eight pitchers), the league office picks the final six All-Star roster spots — four position players and two catchers.

The bulk of those final picks usually are needed to fulfill the requirement that every team has at least one All-Star representative. That was the case this year, with five of the six NL picks from the league office the lone All-Star for their team:

SP Josiah Gray, Nationals
SP Mitch Keller, Pirates
RP Devin Williams, Brewers
C Elias Díaz, Rockies
1B Pete Alonso, Mets

The only discretionary pick from the league office on the NL roster was Justin Steele of the Cubs, a team that already had pitcher Marcus Stroman and shortstop Dansby Swanson. But Steele has been incredible in the first half, leading the National League in ERA (2.43), FIP (2.81), and WHIP (1.031).

One could argue that Evan Phillips should be an All-Star over Devin Williams, but it’s not a slam dunk. Williams has a lower ERA, xERA, and more saves. Phillips has a better FIP, WHIP, and strikeout-minus-walk rate. But even if you did select Phillips over Williams, the Brewers would still need an All-Star.

Christian Yelich won an MVP five years ago and has been Milwaukee’s best hitter this year but hasn’t really stood out. If you put him on the roster, it’s at the expense of either Pete Alonso or Elias Díaz, which would require finding another player from either the Mets or Rockies for that spot.

Wade Miley has a 3.02 ERA for the Brewers but it’s only in 11 starts. He’s not going to replace Justin Steele, so adding Miley would mean either no Josiah Gray or Mitch Keller, which would require a different All-Star from the Nationals or Pirates.

It’s a jigsaw puzzle more complicated than simply pointing and saying “That guy should be an All-Star.”

Even though the full 32-player All-Star rosters in each league were revealed, there are still plenty of chances for players like Phillips and others to still make the squad. Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers’ lone All-Star pitcher, is currently dealing with shoulder inflammation, and might end up bowing out of the midsummer classic.

Last year, for instance, 14 replacement players were added to the All-Star Game after initial rosters were revealed, of which three were relievers. That group also included first baseman Freddie Freeman and pitcher Tyler Anderson of the Dodgers. In 2021, 14 roster replacements were named, including six pitchers but just one reliever.

So Phillips’ path to the All-Star Game isn’t yet closed. If he does end up getting the nod, Phillips would be the first Dodgers relief pitcher All-Star since Kenley Jansen in 2018.