Phillies Bullpen Has Promising Potential for 2023 Playoffs

Phillies Nationals
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Michael Lorenzen celebrates after pitching a no-hitter during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Thursday night, the Phillies bullpen returned to form against the New York Mets.

While the Mets are not a playoff darling, nor a feared lineup, they are still a team with a lot of offensive talent.

The Philadelphia Phillies bullpen was able to shut down Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, Brandon Nimmo, and the rest of the New York lineup in relief last night.

Coming off a really rough couple of weeks, I think the Phillies bullpen is finally starting to heat back up. The timing could not have been any better, especially with the playoffs right around the corner.

Who is the Phillies’ Closer?

It seems like Rob Thomson has started to shift towards a two-closer committee for the Phillies ‘pen.

Craig Kimbrel has held the role of closer for the bulk of the season, but lately, Jose Alvarado has been taking the ball in save situations.

Thomson has shown in the past he favors matchups over the traditional closer roles. While Kimbrel has typcically pitched in high-leverage situations, Topper has not been afraid to employ Craig in different innings.

For example, if the heart of the order is due up in the 8th, Rob will use Craig to get those outs, and delegate the save opportunity in the 9th to others, including Jose Alvarado.

The goal isn’t to get a player a save but to try and win the game. As long as all members of the Phillies bullpen buy into that process, it really comes down to their perfomance on the field.

Can the Bullpen Shine in the Playoffs?

In 2008, the back end of the Phillies bullpen was dynamic.

The “Bridge to Lidge” consisted of J.C. Romero and Ryan Madson, who typically cover the 7th and 8th innings before Brad would take the ball in the 9th.

Phillies Craig Kimbrel
Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel, delivers in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, May 26, 2023, in Atlanta. Kimbrel celebrated his 400th career save. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Before the 2023 season began, the Phillies felt that had built another bridge, full of players who were all capable of closing games. Craig Kimbrel and Gregory Soto joined Jose Alvarado and Seranthony Dominguez as a fearsome foursome in the Phillies bullpen.

Craig Kimbrel was named an All-Star this season. Jose Alvarado has spent a lot of time on the Injured List this season, but he has been dynamic when he has played. Seranthony Dominguez has struggled greatly compared to 2022 and Gregory Soto has been good, not great.

Bullpen Structure

Despite being a good unit this season, the playoffs are a completely different beast when it comes to the bullpen.

You tend to heavily rely on your top arms more often, and like a bench in the NBA playoffs, your bullpen tends to shrink.

For the Phillies, their ‘pen will be heavily relied on. With the club’s starting pitching being questionable, strong relief can be the glue that holds together another World Series run.

Listed Below is the group of players I expect to see in the Phillies bullpen for the playoffs:

Jose AlvaradoL
Craig KimbrelR
Jeff HoffmanR
Gregory SotoL
Seranthony DominguezR
Matt StrahmL
Yunior MarteR
Cristopher SanchezL
Michael LorenzenR

Michael Lorenzen and Cristopher Sanchez will likely be joining the bullpen once the playoffs begin. Both have experience coming into games in a relief role, where I think Rob Thomson will use them.

Jose Alvarado, Craig Kimbrel, Jeff Hoffman, Matt Strahm, and Gregory Soto have easily earned their spots based on their play this season.

The final two spots in my opinion will go to Seranthony Dominguez and Yunior Marte.

Seranthony has fallen from the guy we saw in 2022 but hopefully a late season resurgence can return him to form. Yunior Marte has been up and down with the big league club this season but I think he has the best “stuff” when compared to other options. Both are unlikely to see much time in my opinion.

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)