The Philadelphia Phillies are more than halfway through the 2020 season, and their bullpen struggles have failed to subside.
On Monday, the Phillies entered the fifth inning with a 6-0 lead. After the seventh, the Mets were leading 7-6. On Tuesday, they led 4-3 after five innings, but trailed 6-5 after the sixth.
Its 7.24 ERA on the season ranks last among all MLB bullpens. They are allowing nearly two baserunners per inning with a 1.89 WHIP, and have allowed more than two home runs per nine innings. It has continued to be the worst unit in baseball, despite Matt Klentak’s additions before the trade deadline.
Here are three numbers to remember about the Phillies bullpen following a tough week against the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox:
10.80 – ERA Against The New York Mets And Boston Red Sox This Week
The bullpen’s struggles appeared to lessen during the team’s stretch of 10 wins in 11 games. In that stretch, they pitched to a 3.55 ERA and were good enough to keep the Phillies in games.
But, they have faltered since. In 16 2/3 innings against the Mets and Red Sox, they allowed six home runs and 20 earned runs. They blew the leads in games on Monday and the first game on Tuesday, and surrendered the tie in the second game on Tuesday.
Tommy Hunter, Blake Parker and JoJo Romero have all pitched well for the Phillies this season, but they all gave up runs on Monday and Tuesday. It was a bad stretch for the Phillies bullpen, and they will need to improve if they hope to catch the first-place Atlanta Braves.
-0.9 – Combined fWAR Of David Hale, David Phelps, Brandon Workman And Heath Hembree As Phillies
Matt Klentak acted proactively, acquiring three relievers more than a week ahead of this year’s trade deadline and adding one more just ahead of the deadline.
But Hale, Phelps, Workman and Hembree have all struggled since arriving in Philadelphia. Despite being the first one acquired, Hale has the fewest appearances, only pitching in two games.
Phelps, who allowed big home runs in games on Monday and Tuesday, had allowed four earned runs all season in 13 innings pitched with the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2 1/3 innings as a Phillie, he has allowed five earned runs.
Workman blew a save in his first game as a Phillie, and nearly did it again the following night. He has been serviceable, but has still allowed over two baserunners per inning. That is not a characteristic any team wants in its designated closer.
And Hembree, who was lights out in his first appearance with the team, has struggled greatly since. He has allowed five home runs in 5 2/3 innings pitched as a Phillie.
Nine – Losses In Games With 2+ Run Leads
The struggles of the Phillies bullpen is the biggest factor that has kept them from becoming one of the best teams in the National League. They have even blown four separate leads of 4+ runs, including the six-run lead against the Mets on Labor Day.
And while the Phillies have lost nine games in which they had leads of two or more, they have only overcome such a deficit in three games.
That is, in large part, due to the bullpen. In games in which the Phillies are already trailing, the relievers have failed to keep it close enough for the prolific lineup to come back.
The Phillies are a team with some clear strengths, specifically in the lineup and at the top of the rotation. But until the bullpen can hold its own, they will struggle to be more than a fringe postseason contender.
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