After a disastrous loss, Phillies’ bullpen is due for a shakeup

The Phillies’ kryptonite reared its head again, as the bullpen blew another game last night to the Marlins, 11-9.

Zach Eflin was lifted after six innings and only 80 pitches. His velocity was down the previous few innings and was pulled with some discomfort in his knee. While that is concerning, Destiny Lugardo of Phillies Nation reports that Eflin is feeling better today. Eflin is still scheduled to make his next start on Sunday.

In a four-run game, you should be able to bring in a reliever making $6MM and feel comfortable. However, it has been anything but comfortable when Jeurys Familia toes the rubber. The righty came in and the Marlins proceeded to go single, walk, lineout, and HR off of him. What’s worse is that the HR came from Jacob Stallings, the ninth hitter who came in with only one long ball.

Seranthony Dominguez came in to replace him, and subsequently gave up a solo shot to Jazz Chisholm. That was the first HR he has given up this year, and it couldn’t have come at worse time.

The Phillies were able to fight back once again, when Rhys Hoskins continued his big night with a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth. As we have seen recently, a one run lead for Corey Knebel was going to be walking on a tightrope.

The inning started off with an error that probably should have been a hit. Knebel followed that error with two straight walks and a single to tie the game 9-9. Andrew Bellatti relieved him and was able to get the first out on a weak flyout. The next batter, Jesus Aguilar, popped a pitch up near the Phillies’ dugout, but it went in and out of JT Realmuto’s glove.

The next pitch, Aguilar stuck his bat out and lined a double just out of the outstretched arms of Nick Castellanos. That double was the nail in the coffin, as the Phillies couldn’t come back for a third time.

After that devastating of a loss, fans knew changes were coming. The first change came out this morning, as manager Rob Thomson announced he would be moving Knebel from the closer’s role. The team will take a bullpen by committee approach for the foreseeable future.

However, that won’t be the only upcoming change made.

After being moved twice, the last day teams can carry 14 pitchers is June 19th. The Phillies currently have 14 pitchers on the roster, meaning more changes on the way. The aforementioned Bellatti, Familia, and recently added Michael Kelly’s days are numbered. Additionally, injured reinforcements are getting closer and closer to returning.

Ryan Sherriff has looked really good on his rehab stint. He pitched an inning in Reading yesterday, striking out two. He is probably the closest to helping the Phillies’ bullpen. In other words, he should be nearing an MLB return in the next couple of weeks.

Additionally, Kent Emanuel, JoJo Romero, and Sam Coonrod are on or soon to begin rehab assignments. Emanuel is more than likely going to Triple A, as he is more of a multi-inning reliever. Romero is probably in the same boat as Emanuel, plus you want him building strength coming off Tommy John. However, once Coonrod is good to go, he is going to be an important part of the Phillies’ bullpen.

So, with Sheriff and Coonrod, the Phillies are looking at adding at least two fresh arms to the ‘pen. That is only considering the players returning from injury. The Phillies still have 22-year-old Francisco Morales on the 40-man roster. He has transitioned to a full-time bullpen role this year and is close to making an impact.

Also, former No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel is having a career renaissance after three years away from the game. In 24.1 innings, Appel is pitching to a 1.82 ERA with a WHIP hovering around one. Fans, including myself, have been clamoring for Appel to get a chance, and I am sure he will at some point.

During the winning streak, the bullpen pitched really well, and it was really relaxing. However, reality hit us hard last night. If the Phillies’ have any chance to get back in the postseason for the first time since 2011, they need more. They do have more coming, but will it be enough?

Time will tell.

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