Bullpen not a strength, but a weakness
Prior to this season, the Phillies were expected to lean heavily on a bullpen that showed promise at the end of last year and was bolstered by the additions of Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek. They were tasked with picking up the slack the starting rotation left.
At the halfway point, the roles have been reversed. While the starting rotation has cruised, the bullpen has been mired in inconsistency. As a group, their 2.6 fWAR ranks 14th, 4.08 ERA ranks 17th, and 1.31 WHIP ranks 15th.
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Several players expected to be key cogs in the bullpen have floundered. Hector Neris couldn’t throw his splitter anymore and was optioned to the minors. Adam Morgan seemingly emerged as a late-inning piece last year, but he has been below-replacement. Luis Garcia started off strong but fell off before hurting his wrist. Hunter missed the first month of the year and has been disappointing since with a 4.65 ERA and 1.48 WHIP.
Thankfully, not everything has been doom and gloom. Seranthony Dominguez has shown no issue adjusting to the major leagues and has become an effective high-leverage reliever. Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos have also both done well and turned into de factor setup men for Dominguez. While Neshek missed the first three months of the year, he has shown no signs of rust with just four hits and no walks allowed in six outings since returning.
Even though there have been some bright spots, the bullpen still needs plenty of work for this team to continue to succeed. They have done exceptionally well in one-run games, but this won’t continue if the bullpen falters down the stretch. Acquiring some help before the trade deadline will be key.