Phillies manager Gabe Kapler has been on thin ice all season long, and more bullpen mismanagement Friday night is just making that ice thinner.
From day one as the Phillies‘ manager, Gabe Kapler had more than his fair share of detractors. After a disastrous opening series last season against the Braves, he may have gotten one of the quickest pink slips in league history. Alas, Kapler is still here, but he is still not without his gaffes.
In Friday night’s loss to the Mets, Hector Neris was not ready in the bullpen when Kapler went out to the dugout to bring him in. Three minutes passed between Kapler going out and Neris reaching the mound. It was clear that Neris wasn’t ready as his splitter did not have its typical movement and the Mets scored two runs on him.
The moment was eerily similar to the aforementioned opening series from last year when Kapler called for a reliever from the bullpen and had no one warming up. Hoby Milner had to come in and only got the warmup pitches the umpire allowed, which obviously didn’t end well.
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Kapler’s bullpen management came under fire once again as he as the recently called up Nick Vincent came into the second straight late-inning tie game. For the second game in a row, Vincent allowed a walk-off, this time issuing a bases-loaded walk with two outs to Pete Alonso. He was the sixth reliever used in Friday’s game and eighth reliever used Thursday.
While Kapler can’t do much about who he has in the bullpen, he can handle how he employs the pitchers he is stuck with. The miscommunications and over-usage of his bullpen are the exact reason why his future as the manager is so in doubt.
The team officially put Kapler on the hot seat last month when they brought Charlie Manuel back to finish out the year as the hitting coach. The door remains open to fire him once the season ends, and Friday night will certainly be cited as an example of his shortcomings as a manager.