Phillies need to make drastic changes in their bullpen—time to bring up the youth

Cut me off when you’ve heard this before.

The Phillies bullpen is absolute garbage.

I am imagining that most of the people reading this would cut me off right there, but it seems that, for as bad as this bullpen was last year, we could be topping that right now. The pen has pitched to a 9.18 ERA in 16.2 innings, which reflects the last place position the Phillies are currently in. They have given up more earned runs (17) than they have innings pitched. The more worrisome numbers to me is that they have given up 25 hits and 7 walks, good for a 1.975 WHIP. Surrendering almost 2 base runners an inning isn’t close to good enough, especially when the opponent’s battting average against the entire bullpen is .338.

When looking at the pitchers that make up this pen, it’s not pretty. Trevor Kelly, Deolis Guerra, and Reggie McClain were all claimed off of waivers this offseason. Tommy Hunter has lost about 4 mph off his fastball since his injury. Austin Davis doesn’t have an out pitch. Nick Pivetta still gets shelled and doesn’t seem to fully embrace the bullpen role. Ramon Rosso was thrown in a big spot early and wasn’t ready for it. The only competent arms we have in the bullpen are Jose Alvarez, Adam Morgan, and Hector Neris.

Unfortunately, you can’t have a three man bullpen pitch everyday. Being in season, there’s not much the Phillies can do at the moment. Due to a lack of additions to the ‘pen this offseason, the Phils dug themselves a pretty nasty hole. The eventual call up of Spencer Howard and Vince Velazquez moving to the bullpen will definitely help, but it won’t be enough.

My solution: Call up the kids

I get it. Having a lot of youth pitching out of the bullpen is scary. In my opinion, to keep rolling out 30 year old journeymen who are clearly AAAA pitchers is just as scary. It doesn’t make much sense to give a pitcher of that ilk more chances than kids you scouted, drafted, and developed through YOUR system.

Connor Brogdon, Damon Jones, Addison Russ, Zach Warren, Kyle Dohy, and Connor Seabold are all players in satellite camp who have put up some really good numbers in the minors. I thought Brogdon was a lock to make the opening day rosters out of camp, and probably should have been. I believe the Phillies want to keep developing Jones as a starter, but his curveball would be devastating out of the bullpen. Russ doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but has performed at every level he’s been at. Warren and Dohy are two interesting lefties with high K numbers. Seabold is also a quality pitcher who really made a turn last year in the second half. Also, he has a great first name.

The fact that all of these pitchers have to be added to the 40-man roster or be subject to being selected in the Rule 5 Draft make this much easier. At some point between now and December, the Phillies will have to add them to the roster, so why not do add a few now and see what you can get out of them? There‘s no harm in seeing what these kids can do. I have a hard time believing it will be any worse than what Phillies fans have watched through the first six games.

The ignorance of the front office to not address this weakness was dumbfounding. We watched last year, as owner John Middleton proclaimed that he “will get that trophy back, or die trying.” That same guy avoided going into the luxury tax this year.

It sure looks like its coming back to bite him.

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