Jayson Stark: Phillies Bullpen ‘Payback’ for Joe Girardi

Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

Jayson Stark jokes Phillies bullpen woes are ‘payback’ for Joe Girardi.

Across six seasons, from 2008 to 2013, current Philadelphia Phillies skipper Joe Girardi had Mariano Rivera — arguably one of the best bullpen arms in the history of Major League Baseball — at his disposal while managing the New York Yankees.

Over that stretch, the eventual Hall of Fame closer went 20-16 with a 1.80 ERA, 0.868 WHIP ratio, and 209 saves out of 230 opportunities in regular-season action. This means Rivera had just 21 blown saves.

The Phillies bullpen has combined for 22 blown saves this season alone.

“If every game when you bring in the bullpen you’re going to hang on for dear life, that’s a hard way to make a run,” The Athletic’s Jayson Stark recently said on 97.5 The Fanatic. “I feel like this is kind of Joe Girardi’s payback for managing Mariano [Rivera] all those years. It was so easy then and it’s so hard now.”

Rivera later became the first player in MLB history to be unanimously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, in his first year on the ballot.

What are the chances the Phillies acquire bullpen help this month?

Could Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski acquire some relievers ahead of this month’s trade deadline to help the bullpen?

Bullpen pitchers are out there, according to Stark, and many get traded every July. He cautions, however, that just weeks into the crackdown on Spider Tack, teams are “terrified” to make such trades.

“Everybody is terrified trading for any pitcher right now because you don’t know what they are post-Spider Tack,” Stark said. “So, nobody is going to trade for anybody until they get more info.”

Girardi can’t catch a break.

It seems that no matter who Girardi brings in, it is the wrong guy. Longtime veteran Neftali Feliz showed promise in the Phillies’ minor-league system this year, but once he was brought up to the majors, he struggled greatly — with four hits, four runs, one walk, and a home run allowed in just one inning of combined work. He has since been designated for assignment, cleared waivers, and elected free agency.

“Other teams have hit on guys like Neftali Feliz,” Stark added. “Only the Phillies think they’ve hit, bring the guy in, and he gives up a crushing, game-blowing home run. There’s no real good answer, is there? This is when you sit down at the desk in school and they hand out the multiple-choice test and there are no right answers on the quiz.”

“That’s what it feels like.”

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