Philadelphia Phillies: The bullpen still isn’t good enough

The primary talking point in regards to last year’s failure of a season, the Philadelphia Phillies 2020 bullpen was one of the worst in baseball history. The group of relievers blew countless games for the team, keeping them out of the postseason despite an expanded format.

For rather obvious reasons, the ‘pen needed a pretty dramatic revamp during the offseason.

Upon landing the team’s president job, future Hall of Famer Dave Dombrowski quickly went to work adding external talent. He traded for hard-throwers Sam Coonrod and Jose Alvarado, he signed Archie Bradley to a one-year/$6 million contract, and brought in the likes of Brandon Kintzler and Tony Watson on minor league deals with an invite to spring training.

Hector Neris, Connor Brogdon, JoJo Romero, David Hale, and Vince Velasquez were the only major names to outlast the bullpen purge.

While the Phillies new-look reliever room flashed early signs of dominance, the unit has quickly regressed back to being one of the worst in baseball. The bullpen has an ERA of 4.86 – the fifth worst in the MLB at the moment.

For what it’s worth, some of the team’s new additions have come as advertised. Both Alvarado and Coonrod routinely touch triple-digits with their fastballs, and Archie Bradley looked fine prior to his multi-week oblique injury.

Where the issues really begin to arise with the Phillies 2021 bullpen is in regards to its depth. Calling the team’s reliever room “shallow” would be an understatement.

Both Brandon Kintzler and David Hale have been downright bad in their respective roles, JoJo Romero and Connor Brogdon haven’t taken the necessary steps forward as young arms attempting to develop, and Hector Neris continues to be his usual up-and-down self in the closer role. Alvarado and Coonrod haven’t necessarily been *great* either – both players have blown games for the Phillies this season.

The old saying “you’re only as strong as your weakest link” pretty accurately describes the Phillies bullpen at the moment, as they’ve routinely found themselves in spots where they’re having to turn to below average options in high-leverage roles. Hale in particular is someone who has seen far too much action in the ninth inning of ballgames this season.

The Philadelphia Phillies bullpen is still a major issue.

At least part of the Phillies poor bullpen performance this season can be attributed to Joe Girardi’s odd managing style, but the overall group is still underperforming from a statistical point of view. Archie Bradley returning sometime soon should help, but ultimately speaking, this is still an area of the roster that Dombrowski is going to have to aggressively look to upgrade during the offseason.

Signing an elite-level closer would be a start, and replacing guys likes Hale and Kintzler in the back-end of the ‘pen should also be explored.

Considering just how shaky the Philadelphia Phillies #4 and #5 starters have been this season (it looks like Velasquez is back in the rotation, btw), capitalizing on games where Nola/Wheeler/Eflin go 7.0+ innings needs to become a mainstay for the Phils this season.

The only way that happens? Better bullpen play.