The Philadelphia Phillies dropped a 3-0 heartbreaker on Wednesday night at Citi Field. The host New York Mets won it on a two-out, pinch-hit, three-run home run from Brandon Nimmo off Phillies reliever Mark Leiter Jr to gain a split of the four-game series between the division rivals.
For some Phillies fans, this might seem like just another in a string of games blown by the bullpen. The relief corps has been much maligned this season. Some of the individual pitchers have certainly deserved the criticism at times.
What those same fans may not have noticed is that the Phillies bullpen has been extremely effective since the calendar turned to July. Frankly, games like last night’s are going to happen to almost every team over the course of a long 162-game season. However, a look at the statistics shows that the Phillies bullpen may be turning into a strength.
Here are the numbers put up by the various Phillies relief pitchers, beginning with games of July 1:
As you can tell from Leiter’s figures, this was the bullpen performance up until the time he stepped on to the mound last night. Prior to that appearance, Phillies relief pitchers had a cumulative 1.06 ERA during the month of July.
In fact, it looked as if Leiter was going to continue that excellence when the inning began. He retired the first two Mets batters to start the frame.
After a two-out double by Amed Rosario, the Phillies right-hander got to 3-2 on Jose Reyes. But the veteran Mets hitter layed off a low-and-away changeup, drawing a free pass to set-up Nimmo’s walkoff heroics.
Yes, if you want to get technical, as well as to generalize, “the bullpen blew it” last night. But the Phillies relief pitchers have actually been helping this team as the dog days of summer have begun.
Even though the offense has managed just four or fewer runs in eight of the 10 games this month, the club has gone 7-3. That improved work from the bullpen has been an important factor.