Last season was a mixed bag for the Phillies. After an eventful offseason in which they acquired an unprecedented three all-stars in one offseason- including superstar slugger and MLB cornerstone Bryce Harper- the Phillies began the season with incredibly high hopes.
The Phillies, benefitting from the fruits of $403M worth of offseason investments, were surging out of the gate. On the back of an explosive offense, the team quickly took control of the NL East and remained atop the division well into May.
Unfortunately, like virtually every other offense, the Phillies’ bats would run hot and cold, exposing their biggest weakness- starting pitching. Without the ample run support provided early in the season, the Phillies rotation failed to consistently string wins together and the team’s title hopes quickly imploded alongside their performance.
In truth, things don’t figure to be much better for the rotation in 2020. Sure, the addition of Zack Wheeler is an impactful one and could positively alter the team outlook this season. However, even if newly-acquired hurler does make strides towards being the ace the team paid him to be, that would really only give the Phillies two reliable rotation arms- the other being Aaron Nola, of course.
One thing that could help mitigate the team’s rotation issues that they didn’t have last season, however, is a dominant bullpen.
When things were going south for the Phils’ starters last season, the bullpen was oftentimes too deep in their own struggles to aid them. In 2019, they allowed the 13th most runs of any bullpen in the league and offered very little in the way of consistency.
In their defense, though, a large reason why they didn’t perform very consistently is that they hardly had a consistent cast taking the mound. After marquee free-agent signees Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter, and David Robertson were knocked out for the year with varying arm injuries, the team relied on a makeshift, alternating slew of pitchers to try to fill the void.
Predictably, this strategy didn’t amount to much success and the Phillies fell from the pinnacle of the division to the cellar as a result.
Under new management, the Phillies are cautiously optimistic that their pitching will be one of their strengths this season. In order for that to occur, the bullpen will almost assuredly have to be on the top of their game.
Let’s examine five things that would likely need to happen in order for the Phillies bullpen to prosper in 2020.
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