The Phillies bullpen has been a point of emphasis for the Phillies front office over the last several years. The bullpen is a combination of free agents, trade acquisitions, and grown talent. The Phillies invested into this group and for fans this early in the season there is no need to panic for the Phillies bullpen.
For any of the four major professional sports, surrounding young talent with established veteran talent is a common approach for development. For the Phillies early in the 2019 season, this strategy has paid dividends on the offensive side. Maikel Franco and even Rhys Hoskins had their struggles in 2018 as the heart of the offense. In 2019, the Phillies surrounded them with veteran players and have resulted in more success.
So far the bullpen has not shown as many immediate effects. Young electric arms with Hector Neris and Seranthony Dominguez are now accompanied by David Robertson. Robertson started this season with struggles. The 10-year veteran has always found his way out of trouble in the past. He posted a 3.82 era or lower since his rookie season. And Robertson also brings the experience of 137 career saves. He not only offers Kapler an option for the back end of the bullpen but his leadership and knowledge to pass onto Neris and Dominguez is equally important.
With three shut down arms the Phillies will be able to use each pitcher for different situations to bring out the best in each pitcher.
Phillies Middle Relievers
The middle of the bullpen is more veteran dominate. Phillies left-handed relievers are Jose Alvarez and Adam Morgan. Both pitchers have established major league careers. But their appearances to start the year have been the opposite. Morgan has yet to give up a run in his first five appearances. While Alvarez era inflated to 13.50 over his first three games. It has been a small sample. But the Phillies will rely on Morgan in key situations until Alvarez starts finding his groove.
Alvarez has a career 3.74 era over the course of four-plus seasons. The twenty-nine-year-old reliever was acquired on December 6th, 2018 from the Angles. It might be as simple as giving Alvarez time to adapt to his new surroundings.
Right-handed middle relievers Edubray Ramos, Juan Nicasio, and Pat Neshek have been solid. The four combine to have a 0.00 era so far. It is impossible to continue that pace. But for the Phillies, they’re capitalizing on the hot starts. At some point this season Tommy Hunter will be joining this squad after he recovers from a Grade 1 flexor strain.
The struggles from Robertson to start the season has grabbed headlines. But the bullpen has had their share of success also. For 2019, the Phillies have almost 38 million dollars wrapped up in five of their veteran arms including Hunter.
The Phillies approach to the bullpen will help keep the bumps smaller and the struggles shorter. With Gabe Kapler having multiple established players to use in each situation, any struggles throughout the season can quickly be handed off to the next guy up. Also, look for Kapler to give mental breathers when needed. Having veterans meshed with developing talent will help solidify the group. It, unfortunately, will not happen overnight.
No need to panic for the Phillies bullpen
At this point in the season, the Phillies offense has averaged over 6.5 runs a game. Giving the bullpen more needed time to develop, and increase role flexibility. Time will work in the Phillies favor. There are talent and leadership on the team. Closer Craig Kimbrel is still available as a free agent. But with already having three shut down arms and only $17 million till luxury tax that move doesn’t make sense for the Phillies at this point. A move could still be possible when the July 31st trade deadline approaches if necessary. But until then, they have no need to panic for the Phillies bullpen.
All stats via MLB.com
Featured image via Flickr City of Philadelphia
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