We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag.  Each week we take your questions on the team, and answer them on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill.  Send your question at any time to @FrankKlose on Twitter.

To be this close to first place and the Wild Card with 13 games left, how can you not look at the blown saves and wonder what could have been.
~John

This seems like a permanent, recurring theme with the Phillies: the bullpen blows lead after lead.  With 32 blown saves, the Phillies are quickly approaching the major league record of 34.  The Phillies have come back to win a good amount of them, and some of them occurred in the same game.

The player with the most blown saves would be Hector Neris, with seven. That is fifth in the National League.   Of course, Neris has been one of the more reliable relievers in baseball in the second half.  The only blown save he has notched since June was a hard-luck one on September 5 in which he inherited two runners and actually limited the damage.

But more than the closer blowing saves, many of these were leads that middle relief could not hold onto.  Connor Brogdon has four blown saves.  Ranger Suarez has three, as do Ian Kennedy (as a Phillie), Sam Coonrod, Archie Bradley, and Jose Alvarado.   Brandon Kintzler and Enyel De Los Santos each had two.  David Hale and Neftali Feliz each had one.

We all know that when a late-inning reliever gives up the lead it is a blown save.  There are two other factors here that we often do not see.

First, is that the starting pitching often leaves the Phillies bullpen overexposed.   If a starter cannot go deep into a game, that is more opportunity for the bullpen to blow the lead.  So all of the four-inning starts by Vince Velasquez, three-inning starts by Spencer Howard, and whatever Matt Moore and Chase Anderson gave the Phillies matters, as does Aaron Nola’s recent stretch of not getting out of the fifth inning.

The stretch of bullpen games does not help, either.

Second is that the offense has given the pitching staff a tight line to hold.  A blown save is of course the inability to hold a one-, two-, or three-run lead.  The less wiggle room the offense gives the Phillies, the less likely it is the relief corps will hold on.

So really this is a three-prong problem.

What are the odds the Phillies try to sell high on Jean Segura going into his walk year?
~Rich

I think that the Phillies would not necessarily be looking to “sell high” on Segura.  Segura is certainly having his best year as a Phillie, but has generally been seen as a quality player.  I would not count out the Phillies trading Segura, but I do not think they’ll feel like they have to move him, either.

The Phillies likely will be retooling their roster.  As we saw with the front office, Dave Dombrowski has shown a willingness to be bold in order to get the Phillies into a winning organization.  The same way many front office positions were changed, I would expect to see the same on the roster.

It could be a matter of opportunity.  Maybe the Phillies have the chance to get something in return for Segura that they like as part of the long-term solution, and they make the move.  Or, they could decide that their best opportunity to win in 2021 is with Segura.

The Phillies have some real decisions to make in the infield, with the sudden, rapid decline of Didi Gregorius, and with the inconsistent defense of Alec Bohm.  Their top offensive prospect, Bryson Stott, could eventually occupy second base.

But as we saw with Scott Kingery and Bohm and others, there is more to it than penciling your prospects into starting positions.

So if you’re looking for “odds” on Segura, I would put it as “possible”, as almost anything will be on the table this offseason.

Starting pitching: who are the top free agents. CF LF & 3B options? Great teams, have starting pitching, C, CF, and a lights out closer? Thoughts?
~Van

The Phillies will have a lot of work to do this offseason.  I think they’ll have to do more than just simply shop the free agent aisles, though.  There comes a point where a team like the Phillies cannot simply just spend money.   They will have some money coming off the books (Andrew McCutchen, Odubel Herrera, Velasquez, Moore, Anderson, Neris, Bradley) but there is much to do.

Starting pitchers that will be free agents include some older pitchers, that might carry some risk.  Max Scherzer is a free agent that will not require draft pick compensation.  A team might throw a lot of money at him on a short-term deal.  Marcus Stroman will be a free agent, but would be a risky six-year deal, if he gets who he wants.  Robby Ray is having a fantastic season and will be a free agent at 30.

But the market is filled with older, useful players such as Michael Pineda, Jose Quintana, and Alex Cobb.  I think the opportunity exists to get a nice starter to fill out the rotation.  I also like the idea of Tyler Anderson, whom the Phillies almost traded for at the deadline.

There are no “lights out” closers on this free agent market.  Nor are there many free agent options that might be a good fit for the Phillies, sans Kris Bryant, who might cost a good amount of money.

I can see the Phillies trying to fill left field internally and seeing what they can do about infield defense.  A player like Bryant, who can play multiple positions, would be useful.  Maybe the Phillies pick up someone like Cody Bellinger in a trade; he can play around the diamond.

But at the end of the day, Dombrowski seems to know how to find good value in under-the-radar players, like he did with Kyle Gibson.  I think we might be surprised who comes to Philadelphia, but they might be the right pieces.

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