Brogdon's rough spring debut puts him in a tight spot in Phillies' fierce bullpen battle

The Phillies bullpen is one of the few areas in which there is competition this spring. Connor Brogdon had a rough spring debut but bounced back in his second appearance.
Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Connor Brogdon had a rough spring training debut but bounced back in his second game
Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Connor Brogdon had a rough spring training debut but bounced back in his second game / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 Philadelphia Phillies do not have many open competitions for the Opening Day roster this spring. There are a few noticeable areas in which players are competing for a spot. Two of which are the final bench player and the final bullpen pitcher or two.

Certain relievers are all but guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster. José Alvarado, Seranthony Domínguez, Matt Strahm, Jeff Hoffman, and Gregory Soto will all likely be in Philadelphia on March 28. Orion Kerkering will likely be on the roster, however, he will have to earn it in spring training.

That leaves two spots — assuming the club carries eight relievers — to be won in March. Dylan Covey, Connor Brogdon, Michael Mercado, Max Castillo, and Kolby Allard will have the chance to prove themselves this spring.

Brogdon walks into trouble after poor first appearance

Brogdon has had his share of major league appearances. He put up solid numbers for the Phillies in 2021 and 2022. Pitching in 57 2/3 innings in 2021, the right-hander posted a 3.43 ERA. In 2022, he pitched 47 innings with a 3.27 ERA and averaged just over a strikeout per inning.

This season he is projected to see time in both the big leagues and minor leagues, but he will be given the opportunity to leave Clearwater with the MLB club.

Brogdon made his 2024 spring debut on Monday, and it did not go as he would have hoped. In 2/3 of an inning, the reliever issued three walks and surrendered one earned run. After the game, manager Rob Thomson discussed his pitcher's initial outing.

"He’s still building arm strength," Thomson said, per's Todd Zolecki. "He threw a couple good changeups, a couple good cutters, but we can’t walk people. You’ve got to get ahead, stay ahead and put people away. He knows that. He’ll get better.”

Thomson is correct. Pitchers are still building arm strength at this time of year. One poor outing will not decimate Brogdon's chance of making the team, but issuing too many walks as a habit could put him in some trouble.

Luckily for Brogdon, he will get more chances.

Brogdon turns things around on Thursday

Brogdon's second spring outing was much better than his first. On Thursday, he pitched a full inning without issuing a walk while striking out one batter. He did allow one hit; however, it only took him 13 pitches to get out of the inning, and 10 of those pitches were for strikes.

The 29-year-old reliever was much happier with his second appearance. He went in with a game plan and was able to execute.

"I just told myself that I wasn't going to walk anybody," Brogdon said about his appearance, per NBC Sports Philadelphia's Corey Seidman. "That was rule number one after walking three guys last time. Executed that goal all right. Feel like I could have made some better pitches, but I didn't walk anybody, so accomplished that goal."

Making that adjustment after poor command in his first spring training game was a big improvement for Brogdon. The right-hander is out of minor league options, so if he doesn't make the Opening Day roster, he would have to clear waivers to remain in the Phillies' farm system. Given his track record, it is likely that another team would put in a claim on the reliever.

If Brogdon can pound the zone and throw strikes, the Phillies know what type of pitcher he can be. He will still have plenty of chances this spring, as he should be one of the finalists to get a final spot in the Phillies' bullpen. It will be up to him to capitalize and force the club's hand in giving him a roster spot.