2. Manage the Bullpen Effectively
The Phillies bullpen got off to a rough start in 2016, especially during the opening series in Cincinnati, but the unit was arguably one of the more consistent over the course of the season.
Mackanin’s late-inning combination of Edubray Ramos, Hector Neris, and Jeanmar Gomez served him well. He knew who was going to pitch in each inning night in and night out, as long as they were available to pitch.
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However, the bullpen, particularly Gomez, struggled in the last month of the season and it’s unclear whether or not he will be the team’s closer come Opening Day. The team recently signed Joaquin Benoit to a one-year contract, so it will be interesting to see how Mackanin pieces together the back end of his bullpen.
Unless the Phillies make a trade like they did last offseason with Ken Giles – and the only player that could garner a decent return is Neris – then Mackanin will likely have Ramos, Neris, Gomez, and Benoit to use at the end of games. Left-hander Joely Rodriguez looks like Mackanin’s first left-handed option out of the ‘pen.
No matter which pitcher is in which role, Mackanin will likely have a more experienced bullpen and more pieces to work with, so the success of the bullpen will help determine his success as a manager.