What we learned in first glimpse of a revamped Phillies bullpen

MLB: AUG 23 Phillies at Braves
ATLANTA, GA – AUGUST 23: Tommy Hunter #96 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws during the MLB game between the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies on August 23, 2020 at Truist Park in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire)

While they lost the first 2 games of the series, the Phillies ended on an extremely positive note. For the first time in what feels like an eternity, the Phillies bullpen held onto a lead. It took a great relay from Didi Gregorius and a perfect tag from Andrew Knapp to protect the 5-4 lead and allow the Phillies to hold on to the victory, but nonetheless it counts the same in the win column.

Bats catch fire

Rhys Hoskins, Didi Gregorius, and Alec Bohm each homered and Andrew McCutchen had an RBI single to bring in the 5 runs that the Phillies were able to put up. Hoskins’ bat seems to have woken up as he is hitting .300 with 2 home runs over the past 7 games. While it is clear that Alec Bohm has a long way to go in the field, it is also clear that his bat is ready as he is hitting .344 in his 32 at-bats so far this season. Along with the HR, Bohm had 2 singles and a walk in the game. This also was his first career home run and it was a 446-foot no-doubter to deep centerfield.

A new-look bullpen

This was the first look at the new bullpen help and it was a somewhat promising start. Heath Hembree pitched 1.2 scoreless innings and came in having to work out of a jam with 2 runners in scoring position.

Tommy Hunter (who somehow has become known as the “8th inning specialist”) looked as good as he has all season and pitched a scoreless inning with 2 strikeouts. Brandon Workman was (and has been) a little less impressive. He managed to get the save but gave up 2 hits and 1 walk in the 9th. If it had not been for the great relay and play at-the-plate, there would probably be a much more angry tune to this whole series. It is certainly exciting to have another closer option other than Hector Neris. However, this outing was not a vote of confidence for Workman being able to secure this role moving forward.

Zach Eflin pitched 5 and a third innings allowing 3 runs and 6 hits in the game on Sunday. The previous game Zack Wheeler pitched a 7 inning gem, allowing just 2 runs while racking up 8 strike-outs. Unfortunately, this effort was soured by the bullpen once again. This was the debut of Brandon Workman and it did not quite go according to plan. He came in the game at a tough spot as the bases were loaded with one out. Workman allowed a two-run double which gave the Braves a 5-4 lead.

Gotta ‘work’ hard for it

While Bryce Harper was able to drive in a run and tie it up in the 9th, the Braves ended up on top after a walk-off single from Adam Duvall. This game handed Workman his first loss and did not set a high bar. Game 1 of the series did not fight with our emotions in the same way. After scoring in the 1st inning, it was all down-hill from there for the Phillies. Aaron Nola only went 2.2 innings giving up 4 runs by way of 2 homers. The Phillies allowed 7 more runs in the 5th inning and ended up falling 11-2 in the game.

Onwards and upwards

The win in the final game of the series is certainly the exclamation point for the Phillies. The team seemed to put a good amount of weight on this win. When asked about it after the game Andrew Knapp told reporters, “It’s one of these wins you can look at the end of the season and say, ‘Man, that turned our season around.”

The Phillies certainly need to build off this with the season’s end already looming.

After entering the year with the second-worst odds to win the East (ahead of only Miami), the Phillies now have the second-best chance according to oddsmakers. That said, at roughly +375, the Phils are allotted just a 21% probability, while the favored Braves at -116 have nearly a 54% chance. These odds will vary depending on the sportsbook available in your area, you can lookup your state for sites to be more informed prior to betting. Unless their league-worst bullpen – which to date has an astronomical 8.11 ERA – improves significantly, it will be difficult for the Phillies to string wins together in a condensed season

Their record now sits at 10-14 with several crucial games ahead of them. The bullpen problem is one that will not just disappear. But it has been nice to at least see some new faces getting a chance. The MLB trade deadline is just around the corner on August 31st. In the meantime, the Phillies must have full focus on the upcoming games if they want to hold on to hopes of playoff baseball.

Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire