Phillies: 6 relievers Joe Girardi is excited about for 2021

Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi (Jim Rassol/USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi (Jim Rassol/USA TODAY Sports) /
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There are plenty of reasons for optimism as it relates to the Philadelphia Phillies, heading into their second season under Joe Girardi. Among those reasons is that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski helped retool a bullpen that, during the shortened 2020 season, posted the second-worst combined earned run average in Major League Baseball over the past 90 years.

The 2009 World Series-winning manager recently joined Phillies broadcaster Kevin Frandsen’s Pine Tar for Breakfast podcast and expressed excitement about the club’s new-look bullpen. He called out the following six relievers, in particular, that he is excited for — the first being their No. 30-ranked prospect, Connor Brogdon.

6. Connor Brogdon

Drafted in the 10th round of the 2017 draft, the 26-year-old Brogdon quickly rose through the system in 2019 — jumping from High-A all the way to the Triple-A level. Through 51 appearances and 17 games finished combined that year, he went 6-2 with a 2.61 ERA, 0.921 WHIP, and a 106-to-24 strikeouts-to-walks ratio spanning 76 innings.

While the right-hander did not start this past season in the big-league bullpen, the Phillies first called upon him during their 14th of 60 overall games. He immediately faced adversity, allowing three hits, three runs, one walk, and a pair of home runs through 1 1/3 innings in the eighth and ninth innings of an eventual 11-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. Brogdon next appeared five games later, and tossed a scoreless eighth inning to finish the game opposite the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. A day later — in the second half of a twin bill doubleheader opposite the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo, Brogdon surrendered a walk, home run, and two earned runs in the eventual 9-8 loss. He recorded just one out, and was optioned to the alternate training site in Lehigh Valley soon after.

Brogdon returned in mid-September, and finished the season with six straight scoreless outings — combining for 8 2/3 innings pitched, while striking out 14 and walking just two.

Girardi said Brogdon was “trying to get his feet wet” in 2020, and that he could get his pitches up to 97/98 miles per hour. “He really started to shine the second time he came up in the last three weeks of the season,” he added. “I’m excited about him.”