4 overreactions from the Phillies’ disappointing opening weekend against the Braves

What transpired over the weekend that has us overreacting this early in the season?

Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper / Rich Schultz/GettyImages
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The Phillies bullpen isn’t as good as they think it is

According to MLB.com, the Phillies entered the 2024 season with perhaps the best bullpen in all of baseball, with a 4.8 fWAR. In 2023, their relievers actually registered a 6.8 fWAR, ranking them third in the entire league. They are predicted to build upon the success from last year and be even better with the current core. With what was perhaps the weakest link in their bullpen late last season in Craig Kimbrel gone, it supposedly left one less question mark in their bullpen this year.

However, if what we saw during this series against the Braves is any indication of what their bullpen will be like in 2024, then we are definitely in for a long season. In just 11 2/3 innings, the Phillies relief corps gave up a whopping 15 earned runs on 19 hits, including spoiling a superb start by team ace Zack Wheeler in the very first game of the season.

We all know the Braves offense is one of the best, if not the best, in the league. But the way they turned the so-called No. 1 ranked bullpen in the league into batting practice was quite worrisome. Maybe the Phillies do miss the veteran presence of Kimbrel more than they expected. After all, he was one of the key players who kept the bullpen in check when they struggled in the early parts of 2023.

Some may say, “Well, they’re missing Orion Kerkering, so it will be a lot better when he gets back.” It would seem harsh to put the pressure on the rookie to help rescue the Phillies, not to mention that he doesn’t even have a proven track record just yet. But in reality, one player can actually only do so much.

For the Phillies’ bullpen to have any sustainable long-term success, it must be done as a collective effort, like they did on Sunday. In that case, everyone will need to get a lot better very soon before it's too late.