Before we get into this, I am aware that The Phillies are in first place. I am not calling for Kapler’s firing as many are doing on Twitter. I am simply saying he has to do a better job of managing his team. The Phillies can’t give games away.
Last night the Phillies took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth. The fact is Kapler has no dedicated closer. The bullpen had FOUR of their best relievers on the shelf. That doesn’t include those on the injured list. Kapler turned to Juan Nicasio, who had the tough task of facing the heart of the Cubs potent lineup and he didn’t get it done.
The need for a Closer
The question now is why doesn’t Kapler have a dedicated closer? With the injuries to Dave Robertson and Tommy Hunter, should Matt Klentak go after Craig Kimbrell? The closer role is not something to be overlooked. Just look at the last 10 World Series Champions and both of the Phillies Championship teams. They all had dedicated closers.
Ricky Bottalico went off in the post game coverage on NBC Sports Philadelphia:
“In Gabe’s world it is all about the rest of the season,” said Bottalico. “This is why I always say good teams have a good closer. I still need the idea of having a named closer. Somebody that can go out there EVERYDAY! Every time you need a save!” He then went on to say that due to the way Kapler handles the bullpen, he doesn’t have the components to finish out tough games, games which they need.
It is time to stop messing around with the closer by committee role. So far, Hector Neris has been the best option at the closer position. Kapler must let him be the closer and stop throwing him in non-save situations, or multiple innings when not needed. Maybe it is time to see what Nick Pivetta or Vince Velasquez can do out of the bullpen.
Where was Pat Neshek?
The previous game, Neshek did not pitch in the game. He threw a warm-up session and couldn’t get loose. According to Kapler, the bullpen pitching session counts. I can totally get behind this idea as I understand the limiting of pitches on a pitchers arm throughout. However, what I don’t get behind is Kapler mismanaging the situation.
Kapler decided to send out Seranthony Dominguez for a second inning. Dominguez has not pitched to the same consistency he had last year. Bringing him out was fine, however, Kapler should have had his bullpen ready to go. He got Neshek up too late to help out after Dominguez walked the first two batters. Had Neshek been warming up earlier, perhaps the Phillies aren’t down Dominguez last night. Or maybe Neshek pitches the ninth inning as well, giving Neris a break from having to pitch in a non-save situation. They won the game, but his decisions affected the bullpen for last night’s matchup.
Kapler has to manage to win the current game. If he is consistently looking down the road, they could pitch themselves out of a playoff spot. That being said, the pitchers have to be telling him they are ready and chomping at the bit to go shut down the opposing teams.
What to do with Scotty Jetpax?
Now that Kingery is back, he has to play. The unfortunate timing of his hamstring strain came when he was absolutely on fire. But what is Kapler to do with him?
Cesar Hernandez struggles early in the season are behind him, so those who were calling for Kingery to replace him are irrelevant. So the other two positions he can play is third base and center field.
Maikel Franco has been struggling at the plate. He has since cooled after his blistering start. In May he is batting .194 having gone 16 for 64 with 6 RBI and 10 strikeouts and no home runs. What he lacks in offense, he makes up for in defense.
Odubel Herrera is also struggling, hitting .163 in the month of May going for 49 with 8 RBI, 4 home runs and 15 strikeouts. Herrera is also showing his lapses in judgment in the field. This was evident by the miscommunication between he and Andrew McCutchen. The ball was hit to the gap and both fielders made a play on the ball, the result was that the Cubs took the lead.
Whatever Kapler decides, Kingery has to be an everyday player. He has to have a dedicated position so that he can work on that position and his hitting! We saw Kingery struggle last season when he was moved all over the place. I suggest third base, but if it is centerfield, I am okay with that as long as he is playing every day.
The Phillies are still playing good baseball and lead the N.L. East by 2.5 games. The road ahead is rough and it continues tonight. The battle of the Coles as Cole Irvin gets the start against former Phillies great, Cole Hamels. Let’s go Phillies!