Following the postponement of Grapefruit League games due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Phillies first-year manager Joe Girardi was faced with some tough roster decisions when the team returned back to Philadelphia to tune-up for the shortened season. There were a few bench jobs open for competition, the 5th starter job was still up for grabs, and a slew of bullpen jobs were available for the taking.
Unfortunately for Girardi, the Phillies’ front office did not give him and his staff a lot of quality arms to work with. Despite a struggling relief core the season before, the organization signed only one reliever to an MLB contract, being Tommy Hunter, who pitched with the team the previous two seasons. It is also worth noting that many of the arms the team was counting on were unavailable to pitch due to injury.
The before mentioned Hunter would not be ready for opening day, as well as the case with lefthander Ranger Suarez. Right-handers David Robertson, Seranthony Dominquez, and Victor Arano have yet to throw a pitch in the majors this season due to injury.
Put all that together and you end up with an inexperienced group of arms who are outmatched by big-league hitters and are pitching in roles they aren’t all too comfortable in. The results, as expected, were not good. Through August 21st, almost a month into the season, the Phillies bullpen had an 8.07 ERA. This was good enough for worst in the major leagues by nearly 2 whole runs. It was on this day Phillies General Manager Matt Klentak had seen enough, so he made some moves.
In two separate trades, the team acquired right-handers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree from the Red Sox, and right-hander David Hale from the Yankees. All three were activated upon arriving to Philadelphia, and Workman took over the closer role from the struggling Hector Neris. Less than two weeks later, Klentak was at it again, this time trading for right-hander David Phelps from the Milwaukee Brewers.
With these four new arms on board, the Phillies felt like they were able to upgrade a glaring weakness on their ballclub. However, the new additions have not performed up to par thus far. Take a look for yourself:
Relievers Stats Since Trade to Phillies
Brandon Workman: 9 Games; 9.1 Innings Pitched; 13 Hits; 4 runs; 3.86 ERA
Heath Hembree: 7 Games; 5.2 Innings Pitched; 9 Hits; 6 Runs (5 earned); 9.53 ERA
David Hale: 2 Games; 4 Innings Pitched; 6 Hits; 3 runs; 6.75 ERA
David Phelps: 4 Games; 2.1 Innings Pitched; 5 hits; 5 runs; 19.29 ERA
In all, the quartet has combined to give up 10 Home Runs since being acquired. That is over just 21 ⅓ innings of work.
Now, this is an extremely small sample size, but this is a shortened season. Every game counts, and certain individuals need to be held accountable. The Phillies went into this season knowing they lacked bullpen depth and they did not address it. During their initial outings with the team, the guys they have brought in have not impressed and have ultimately disappointed as a group.
This is coming at a time when we needed them most. In recent weeks, southpaws Jose Alvarez and Adam Morgan were both placed on the Injured List. The team is also preparing to play six games over the course of four days starting tomorrow when they head to Miami to play the fish.
If the Phillies, who have lost three of their last five, are going to get back on track, they are going to need their new acquisitions in the pen’ to turn it around, before it is too late.