After rough start, Phillies bullpen performing like we all expected before the season

The Phillies bullpen has come back to life after allowing 19 runs in the first four games of the season.
Philadelphia Phillies reliever Jeff Hoffman
Philadelphia Phillies reliever Jeff Hoffman / Rich Schultz/GettyImages
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After entering the season as the projected best bullpen in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies relief corps scuffled early on. However, since April 1, the bullpen has been lights out.

Many Phillies fans have not seen their team put together a dominant group of relief pitchers. However, for the last couple of seasons, the front office has managed to strengthen an area that had been a weakness for the club since its glory days in the 2007-2011 era.

With lofty expectations heading into the new campaign, the Phillies bullpen floundered during the opening series against the Atlanta Braves. Over the course of 16 2/3 innings from Opening Day through April 1, the club's supposed strong point allowed 19 runs — 18 of which were earned.

After a long offseason, the fallout from the bullpen's struggles caused some concern. The main scapegoat was Connor Brogdon, who had been integral to the bullpen during the 2022 World Series run. Over three outings this year, the right-hander allowed six earned runs in two total innings logged. The 2017 tenth-rounder was designated for assignment and traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers after his rough start.

Since Brogdon's blow-up in the first game against the Cincinnati Reds, the club's relief pitchers have been dominant and have shown why they were ranked so high in some preseason lists.

Phillies bullpen showing why it was highly touted

Heading into the 2024 campaign, the Phillies had a set core of relievers expected to deliver. José Alvarado, Jeff Hoffman, and Matt Strahm all had great 2023 seasons. Seranthony Domínguez and Gregory Soto had great stuff but needed to be better for the upcoming season. Almost all of the key pieces have been lights out since the series against the Reds.

Domínguez struggled early on but has since pitched two scoreless innings. Strahm also allowed two runs in his first outing but has held opponents scoreless since. Alvarado has not allowed a run since Opening Day, Hoffman has been a force to be reckoned with in his four shutout appearances, and Soto has followed suit and has not allowed a run yet.

Others have also made meaningful contributions. Yunior Marte has been stellar in relief and has been used in some higher-leverage situations than he may be accustomed to. In five appearances, he has not allowed a run and has held opponents to a 0.59 batting average.

Ricardo Pinto recorded a four-inning save for the club in his second stint with the organization after an interesting call-up experience.

Since the first of the month, the Phillies bullpen has posted a 2.45 ERA while striking out 25 batters in 22 innings, and that includes Brogdon's meltdown. Take out his extra-innings debacle against the Reds, and the bullpen's numbers look even stingier since the beginning of April: 1.27 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings.

While the season is very young, and this is an extremely small sample size, the relievers for this club are demonstrating why they were so highly touted entering the new season. Having pitchers like Soto and Marte improving and Hoffman and Alvarado picking up where they left off has certainly helped early on.

It's a long season, and anything can happen. Bullpens are pivotal to a team's success, and the Phillies have a potentially great relief group. Continued bullpen success will be a vital part of the 2024 season, as it should be a strength for this Phillies club.

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