Phillies Mailbag: Bullpen, “Unwritten Rules, and Playoff Hopes
We are back once again with our Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions about the Phillies and talk about them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill each Tuesday. Send your questions at any time to @FrankKlose on Twitter.
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Is Parker now considered one of the ‘reliable’ arms? Alvarez. Neris and Morgan for me. Parker has looked good so far. How much longer before Ranger is ready?
The Phillies bullpen has most certainly benefited from Blake Parker making the club. I was somewhat surprised he did not make the Opening Day roster, given who did. Parker is not going to be a top back-end arm, but I think we saw last night where he will do a really good job.
Granted, he entered with one inherited runner and that runner did score. But Parker gave the Phillies two full innings' worth of work on a day that the club really needed it, after Eflin departed after just four innings. Parker allowed no further damage and that allowed the Phillies offense to get going. It was enough for Parker to earn a win.
Yes, so far Jose Alvarez (giving up his first run last night), Hector Neris (though a couple tough outings) and Adam Morgan has been pretty good most of the time, though he's the type of guy you need to play match-ups. With Tommy Hunter doing well most of the time, the bullpen is starting to feel like it's coming together.
However, Deolis Guerra entered the ninth with the Phillies up 13-5 and the Phillies had to get their closer up and throwing. That's not good. Reggie McClain should be back today and the Phillies could get a boost from Ranger Suarez and maybe even David Robertson soon.
Suarez pitched at the alternate site at Coca-Cola Park on Sunday. Reports were good, and the club could see him soon. Robertson might be in September (not far away!) if his velocity could recover.
And, there is a trade deadline coming up in under two weeks. It will be hard, but maybe the Phillies can acquire an arm.
Do you think there would be this much backlash if Harper took Edwin Diaz deep up by 7, on a 3-0 pitch, with the bases loaded in the top of the 8th?
What Anthony is referring to is a recent game between the San Diego Padres and the Texas Rangers. With the bases loaded and two outs up 7, Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a 3-0 pitch thrown by former Phillies reliever Juan Nicaso over the fence for a grand slam. This led to backlash from Rangers manager Chris Woodward and others, including NBC Sports Philadelphia commentator Ruben Amaro, Jr.
I feel there probably would be some backlash if one of the Phillies, particularly their star Bryce Harper, did such a thing. But let's be honest, is a seven-run lead really safe anymore?
What if Tatis got out? And the following inning the Rangers hit a grand slam of their own? Then it's a three-run game and within reach that quickly. In today's game of shaky bullpens and a three-batter rule that allows the damage to keep coming, no lead is safe.
Case in point: Tuesday night the Phillies went to the bottom of the ninth inning up eight runs. Their closer ended up warming up. The game could have gotten away.
I feel that if a seven-run lead is too great for a major league baseball team to try, then award a victory automatically to the team with a seven-run lead. Sound silly? Then so should be anyone complaining about players continuing to play the game and not quitting.
Are the Phillies’s playoff hopes on the line during this long road trip given some of the opponents and so few games left?
I wrote a few weeks ago that the National League East would be very much up for grabs. It might not have felt that way after losing three in a row to the Baltimore Orioles, but after last night's victory over the Boston Red Sox, it sure feels more than ever like the Phillies are in the running.
The Phillies are .500 at 9-9. But that puts them just 1.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East.
While the Phillies played the Braves, we saw some of the brilliance of the likes of Ronald Acuna, Jr. and Freddie Freeman. We also saw some of the holes. The Braves pitching is currently a mess with injuries (will Cole Hamels ever throw a pitch for the Braves?) and inconsistency (Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb).
Acuna is on the injured list with no timetable to return.
The Nationals have Stephen Strasburg on the injured list. The offense no longer have Anthony Rendon, and they must rely on former Phillies Howie Kendrick, Asdrubal Cabrera and spring-invitee Josh Harrison for a little too much. They are by no means a poor team, but there are some holes there, too.
So the opportunity is there for the Phillies. If the Phillies can get their bullpen smoothed out even more, the Phillies will be able to hang with the rest of them. The way Aaron Nola and Zach Wheeler have pitched, they can keep up with most teams. The one big challenge will be the three doubleheaders in six days.