Phillies: Bullpen’s Plan B for 2020
Phillies Sign Two Veterans to Minor League Deals

Phillies Roundtable

It’s been a rollercoaster of a season for the Phillies so far but they currently find themselves in a playoff spot with just a few weeks remaining in the regular season. As they head into a very important stretch, the Sports Talk Philly team and I take moment to assess how this season has gone as well as where it is headed. Below is a

roundtable discussion that will help us get a better picture of this Phillies team.

Besides the obvious (the bullpen), what do you think is most concerning issue with the 2020 Phillies?

Brandon Musso

The offense seems to go in and out of hotstreaks, as most teams do throughout a season. However, when the Phillies' offense is cold, it is ice cold. There seems to have been multiple times throughout the season where they have made a rookie pitcher look like Cy Young himself. Of course, this is concerning but starting pitching is a bigger issue facing this team right now. Nola and Wheeler have been a great 1-2 punch for this rotation so far this season. However, with Wheeler now dealing with a finger nail injury and Spencer Howard likely down for the season, the Phillies are putting an awful lot of weight on the shoulders of Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, and Vince Velasquez. All three have been inconsistent this year making their reliability a huge concern for final stretch of the season.

Paul Bowman

This is a bit of a toss-up for me. I might go with the frequent ice-cold streaks that nearly every batter in the lineup seems to be prone to, leaving wholes each night. Injuries to Spencer Howard, Rhys Hoskins, JT Realmuto and Zach Wheeler with Jose Alvarez being marked out for the season is also concerning, but I wouldn't classify it as a "team issue" because its not something that can be avoided. Instead, my biggest concern at this point is the manager. I would argue that Girardi’s micro-managing of the bullpen has made the team worse. Examples like pulling one of your best relievers on the season, who has two outs, because the bases are loaded, to put in a reliever with a WHIP well over two; what were we expecting would happen? His handling of young players has also been poor in situations like Ramon Rosso being put in an impossible situation from the get-go where he still hasn’t recovered, giving Adam Haseley as few chances to play and develop as possible and keeping JoJo Romero, the team’s top reliever, in the bullpen for weeks or using him to face one batter at a time. It’s amazing he lets Alec Bohm play each day.

Matt Szczypiorski

The biggest issue with the 2020 Phillies has been inconsistency. Sure, baseball is a sport where players have hot and cold streaks all the time, but it seems like this team has taken that to the extreme. Two of the Phillies main bats have been the biggest culprits for this issue: Rhys Hoskins, who started cold and is now hotter than fish grease, and Bryce Harper who has done the opposite. The guys that hit 2 and 3 in the lineup not playing well at the same time hurt this team last year and it has hurt them this year. 

Jake Finnerty

With the season coming to a close very soon, the Phillies may be looking at a playoff push as it stands right now. That being said, other than the bullpen, the offensive production from Bryce Harper as of late has me concerned. Bryce started off extremely hot this year, and then we hit late August/early September and it just seems like he fell off. Rhys Hoskins was only at one home run and 5 RBIs when Bryce had hit his seventh homer of the season. Since then, Rhys is second on the team (behind Realmuto [11]) in home runs (10). Where does Bryce Harper stand? He’s only hit one home run in that period of time. A shortened season doesn’t leave much time for error and cold streaks. I hope to see Bryce produce some more, especially if they want to be considered a playoff caliber team.


Much has been said about resigning JT Realmuto but Didi Gregorius will also be a free agent after the season. What are your thoughts on resigning him? 

Brandon Musso

Didi's bat has been a huge help for this lineup and I would love to see him back next year. However, this is entirely dependent on the length and the money of the contract. The Phillies have a lot of holes to fill this offseason, bullpen and starting pitching being at the top of the list. Its hard to imagine the Phillies being willing to go over the luxury tax threshold to sign multiple pitchers, Realmuto AND Didi. With multiple prospects, including Bryson Stott likely to see some time in the future, the contract for Didi would ideally be a short 2-3 year deal and cheap enough to keep the Phillies within the luxury tax threshold.

Paul Bowman

Realmuto is, of course, a must-sign player. The team will also need to look at adding some pitchers in a starter or swingman and some relievers. The team should be willing to go into the luxury tax at this point as it really can’t be pushed off much longer, so money isn’t too big a deal, but Gregorius has been about what we expected at the plate and pretty well below expectations in the field. It certainly depends on what they’re asking, but Scott Kingery will be back next season and the team has quite a few middle-infield prospects that they anticipate making their way to the majors in the coming seasons, including Bryson Stott, who will likely be the team’s top prospect next season. Other departing players, like Alvarez, Parker, Gosselin, Bruce, Hunter and Robertson, are all work looks, too. Overall, it would be nice to have him back and have him want to be here, but there are a few other free agents that should be prioritized over him in addition to JT if he’s just looking for the most money.

Matt Szczypiorski

I think re-signing Didi is a move the Phillies have to make. He has been easily one of the best parts of a good offense and a clutch hitter with guys on base. I think that re-signing him on a 2 or 3-year deal worth about $15-18 million would be well worth the value for the Phils and Gregorius. Who else would the Phillies play at short? Bryson Stott isn’t ready and Didi is significantly better offensively and defensively than both Segura and Kingery. 

Jake Finnerty

Much of the conversation about the Phillies signing players in the offseason has been spearheaded by JT Realmuto. While I completely agree with the need to grab Realmuto, I do not think we should forget about or ignore the fact that Didi is also going to be a FA. Didi Gregorius has been one of the most productive hitters on the Phillies offense this year batting .284 with 7 HR and 29 RBIs. There’s been multiple instances where Didi has come up big in times of need in close games. I think that if the Phillies are able to snag him with a good deal, go for it, but I believe the priority is Realmuto, and they need to make sure he is secured first.

What would you have done differently in the Phillies approach to bolstering the bullpen? 

Brandon Musso

The bullpen was clearly one of the biggest weaknesses that was largely ignored during the offseason. I clamored all offseason for the Phillies to even just sign one of the top relievers that were available free agents. They decided to stand by and watch all the relievers go off the board, a good bunch of them to division rivals. So to answer the question, my approach would have been waking up to the fact that the bullpen wasn't good going into the season and signing a few to fix that. As far as the trades they made at the deadline, I would have went out and gotten an elite arm that you know you can count on. What the Phillies got was a bunch of mediocre pitchers that haven't contributed to the team really at all.

Paul Bowman

I would have stood more pat and looked at outside free agent additions. The alternate site makes the latter more difficult, but Blake Parker is here because of that and Jared Hughes (now with the Mets) was also a solid addition for nothing last season. I would prefer to see the team give shots to players like Addison Russ or Jeff Singer to see if they can develop something rather than trade away prospects for 30 games of a couple guys who laugh at the idea of getting their WHIP under two. It would develop a couple young arms and the team wouldn’t lose anymore games than they already are putting out the trio who had given up 18 earned runs in their first 21.1 innings  since joining the team, not to mention all of the earned runs they’ve allowed for others after Girardi puts them in to “clean up” (including two against JoJo and three against Hunter in the days preceding my writing this up). Trading Pivetta was the right move, but not if you have to move prospects to get rid of him. Looking to move him for a player like Phelps, who is older with some current value and control, would make sense. Moves for the sake of moves were a waste.

Matt Szczypiorski

Let’s start this off by saying that hindsight is always 20-20. At the time of these deals, Phillies fans were screaming for the team to make a deal for some guys to put in the bullpen. The Phils did just that, and while none of them have shown that they were worth the acquisitions, what was the alternative option? Fans would have been much more mad if the front office continued to do nothing. At least they did something.

Jake Finnerty

The Phillies bullpen has earned quite a reputation for being the absolute worst in the league for the past couple of years now. This year, more than ever, the Phillies may finally be a legitimate threat in the playoffs, but how can you do that with such a bad bullpen? The decision to send away some of our younger guys for some more bullpen arms, in my opinion, was a smart one. I believe the organization needed to at least attempt to make the bullpen better to give us a slight bit of a shot in the playoffs. Whether or not it will turn out for the best in the long run, I cannot say, but I believe it was a good decision.


Did the Phillies do enough at the trade deadline? 

Brandon Musso

Predicting who is going to get injured is impossible, but it is easy to predict that there will be injuries, especially this year. Expecting your entire starting pitching staff to remain healthy throughout a season is nothing but wishful thinking. The Phillies should have been smarter in thinking that adding some depth to the rotation would have been helpful, particularly with all the double headers. They needed to add a starting pitcher, a buy low candidate that could help add depth and possibly start in a double header.

Paul Bowman

Frankly, I think the team did too much. I don’t care how “low” the prospects they traded were, they had some potential. The Phillies acquired four relievers by the deadline and three of them were not appealing at all. The team would have been better off riding with Hunter, Neris, Romero, Parker and other young options. Not only would they be no worse off if the young options didn’t work out, but they could have future pieces if they do (see JoJo Romero) and would be paying less salary. Not to mention is seems like the team went from “Ranger Suarez is actually a capable starter” to “Suarez isn’t able to get a single out from the bullpen” real quick. What is the team waiting for with Victor Arano? Phelps was the only addition that had any value outside of the “we must make moves to appease fans” mindset and I think that and maybe one other truly valuable reliever would have been all the team really needed to do and we don't even know what was traded for him at this point.

Matt Szczypiorski

Sure, the Phillies could have done more. But at what cost? The Phillies farm system is depleted as it is, and if they wanted to add some depth to their starting rotation with a good starter, they likely would have had to give up a big piece. The offense has been fine, there was no need to upgrade there. Furthermore, the rotation has not been the main issue in terms of pitching on this team. It’s the guys sitting beyond the center field fence.

Jake Finnerty

Like I previously said, I liked the moves to get extra help in the bullpen, however, I would’ve liked them to get a little more. At the deadline, the Phillies had gotten three relievers, all three of which are just “so-so.” If you want to make a team that will actually win a World Series (which I don’t think is the goal for this particular season, but it would be nice), I think you need to get some better relief pitching for your team to trust in. Even with the addition of the three new pitchers, the bullpen is still blowing leads left and right. In the playoffs, that won't slide and I think they could’ve done something more to improve that.


Are the 2020 Phillies contenders or pretenders?

Brandon Musso

This team is not a contender. After an embarrassing trip to Miami, losing 5 of 7 to the Marlins, its hard to be confident this team can compete in the postseason. The offense may be able to carry them to hang on and grab a playoff spot but there is not a deep run in them. The depth in the starting rotation and bullpen is not there. It was just announced that there will be no off days in the postseason between games until the World Series. That means the Phillies would have to use a full five man rotation throughout the entirety of the playoff run. Is the entire rotation and bullpen really built to compete with the top teams in the MLB? I don't think so.

Paul Bowman

The Phillies are certainly good enough to make the playoffs. Are they healthy enough and will they compete there are the questions and it can only be answered by the team. They have the starters to compete in Nola, Wheeler (assuming he isn't injured) and Eflin. They would need consistency from three or more of McCutchen, Harper, Realmuto, Hoskins and Bohm, and not just in a single inning. They would need to catch an upswing version of Hunter and Neris and some combination of Victor Arano, Phelps, Suarez or Velazquez to pair with Romero and Parker. It’s possible, but getting to that state is a critical journey over the final stretch of the season.

Matt Szczypiorski

I think the 2020 Phillies are certainly good enough to make the postseason. In an extended postseason, they are certainly one of the teams in the top half of the National League. As of the time of me typing these words, the Phils currently sit at the #6 seed. With the schedule being slightly in the Phillies favor down the stretch, the Phillies should be able to hold onto one of the five wild card spots available. Now that I’ve said this, expect the Phillies to make me look like an idiot and collapse worse than they did in 1964.

Jake Finnerty

Ultimately, every team’s goal is to make the playoffs and contend for a championship. When I look at the Phillies, I think of true contenders. Sure, they can be rough around the edges with an extremely average bullpen, but their offense can PRODUCE. With heavy hitters like Bryce Harper (if he comes out of this weird slump), JT Realmuto, and Didi Gregorius along with some younger, up and coming guys like Alec Bohm and Roman Quinn, I think their team is well rounded. They have decent starters with Wheeler and Nola being the two primary stars in the rotation. This team can go toe to toe with any other in the National League, and I think they can be potential contenders this year. 

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