Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez below-replacement in second half

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 03: Seranthony Dominguez #58 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates with Andrew Knapp #15 after saving a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Citizens Bank Park on July 3, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 3-2. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 03: Seranthony Dominguez #58 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates with Andrew Knapp #15 after saving a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Citizens Bank Park on July 3, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 3-2. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /
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After a white-hot start to his Phillies career, Seranthony Dominguez has not been the same pitcher since the All-Star Break.

The Phillies bullpen has been among the best in baseball since the All-Star break. In the second half, they rank third in fWAR (1.5), ninth in ERA (3.45), and fourth in fielding-independent pitching (3.59). You would expect rookie Seranthony Dominguez to be at the center of that, but he has struggled in the second half.

In 11 appearances since the All-Star break, Dominguez has actually been below-replacement level with the second-lowest fWAR (-0.2) among the team’s relievers during this time. He has a 4.66 ERA and 5.64 FIP, walking seven batters and allowing eight hits in 9.2 innings in this span. Dominguez remains effective striking batters out with 13 since the break, but he is turning out to be more hittable than originally thought.

Dominguez has especially struggled in August. In six appearances this month, he has a 4.76 ERA with seven hits, including two home runs, allowed. He blew two saves on back-to-back days Aug. 5 and 6, prompting four days of rest before his next appearances.

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As a whole in the second half, Dominguez has gone five-for-seven in save opportunities, suffering his third loss of the season July 23 against the Dodgers. Pat Neshek has seen some use in save opportunities, recording two so far in the second half.

Dominguez has been used less often in the second half as his struggles have become evident. Six relievers have pitched more innings and four have made more appearances.

Granted, this is due to Gabe Kapler saving Dominguez for those high leverage situations, but Neshek and others have been used more often in those situations.

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The biggest difference in Dominguez’s pitches is in his slider according to Brooks Baseball. Before the break, it dropped 0.44 inches and broke 3.88 inches to his glove side. Meanwhile, after the break, it only has broken 2.6 inches and actually moves vertically 0.93 inches. Dominguez’s slider is his main secondary pitch, so any notable gaps in its movement are noteworthy. He needs that pitch to be effective, so when it doesn’t work, like during his blown saves, he has struggled.

On the bright side, Dominguez’s second half is only tainted by three bad outings. He has allowed a run just seven times in 39 career games so far, which is more than acceptable for a rookie reliever.

Dominguez has a 2.28 ERA and 0.854 WHIP with 14 saves, 56 strikeouts, and 13 walks this season. He has been worth 2.2 wins above replacement according to Baseball Reference, fifth-most on the team.

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Dominguez is expected to be used as a high-leverage reliever the rest of this season in the first Phillies playoff push in seven years. This 11-game stretch may be nothing more than a blip on the radar, but it is certainly something worth noting with the last month of the season approaching quickly.

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