Bullpen could be better
The offense fired on all cylinders and Aaron Nola got the job done on Thursday, but one negative during the game was the bullpen. Of course, it was only one game, but it is still worth noting.
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Hector Neris came in to relieve Nola in the seventh. Neris opened up his 2018 season by allowing a walk-off home run to Nick Markakis before huge struggles throughout the first half. This prompted a demotion at midseason, but he returned strong for August and September, striking out 51% of opposing hitters.
Hoping that Neris had turned things around at the end of last year, the team is looking to use him in high-leverage situations this year. That idea hasn’t gone well so far.
Neris got two groundouts to start the seventh but got into trouble once Dansby Swanson hit a double down the left field line.
Matt Joyce then rocked Neris for a deep home run to right field, making the game 6-3 at that point. He started off 2019 similarly to 2018, which isn’t a great sign.
Rhys Hoskins ensured Philadelphia’s win with his grand slam in the top of the seventh, but new acquisition David Robertson still entered the game anyway in the eighth. He didn’t get off to a great start to his Phillies career, walking Josh Donaldson, giving up back-to-back singles and a run before recording a single out. Thankfully, he settled down from there, getting a double play and pop out to end the inning.
Pat Neshek also gave up a hit to start the ninth inning but made up for it with a slick catch that he turned into a double play on a comebacker. He ended the game by striking out Johan Camargo to cap off the win.
The performance of the bullpen wound up not mattering thanks to the team’s offensive production. Still, after seeing last year’s bullpen struggles, it would’ve been nice to see it get off to a better start.