Phillies: Bullpen struggles something fans should be used to

A view of the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
A view of the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /

Another Phillies season, more bullpen struggles

A struggling Phillies bullpen is something that every fan should be unfortunately used to by now, and here’s why.

This season isn’t the only season in which the Phillies bullpen has struggled. This problem has been a problem long before Joe Girardi came on as manager; the bullpen struggled even well before Gabe Kapler served as manager from 2018-19.

This season, the Phillies’ losses can mostly be blamed on their disastrous bullpen. Most of their  20 defeats were games that the team had the lead, but only for it to be blown by relievers. It’s been a problematic theme throughout the shortened season.

General manager Matt Klentak was left to scramble to acquire relievers ahead of the August 31 trade deadline to try to “stop the bleeding.” So far, his acquisitions have not been the solution.

This season is completely different for a whole variety of reasons. Not only was the season shortened due to the ongoing COVID-18 crisis, and the postseason will likely be played in a bubble, but the Phils are in the midst of a rare playoff run with just about two weeks of the season remaining. According to ESPN, the Phillies currently have an 83.8% chance to advance to the postseason for the first time since 2011.

Having a bullpen that blows leads, and ultimately games, is not something that should happen for a team that is making a push to the postseason.

Phillies bullpen ERA ranks, by season

  • 2020 (7.47, 30th)
  • 2019 (4.38, 16th)
  • 2018 (4.19, 18th)
  • 2017 (4.18, 14th)
  • 2016 (5.05, 28th)
  • 2015 (3.81, 17th)
  • 2014 (3.64, 18th)
  • 2013 (4.19, 27th)
  • 2012 (3.94, 21st)
  • 2011 (3.45, 8th)

Entering Saturday, the Phillies bullpen has a combined MLB-worst 7.47 ERA. The second-worst team bullpen ERA is the Colorado Rockies (6.90), followed by the Seattle Mariners (6.28). The National League East-leading Atlanta Braves, meanwhile, have a third-best 3.27 bullpen ERA.

Something needs to change in the bullpen, and it has to happen quickly; or, the Phillies’ chances to make it far are as slim as Charlie Manuel ever returning to manage the team again — zero.

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