Photo: Arturo Pardavilla III/Wikimedia Commons/Fair Use
The Phillies bullpen will always be a polarizing topic and for good reason. Corey Knebel and Jeurys Familia helped blow a two-run lead on Sunday against the Dodgers.
There’s also the infamous Thursday night where James Norwood was a disaster against the Mets leading to a clearly not-ready Knebel, eventually blowing a six-run ninth-inning lead.
However, there are a couple of clear themes the bullpen is going to have under President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski’s watch and not all of them are bad.
Here are three important themes we can identify about how the Dombrowski is going to structure the bullpen.
Velocity is Everything
Dombrowski has made it very clear through his actions that he loves power pitching. Even if he will trade for Ian Kennedy and sign Brad Hand every once in a while, most of his acquisitions have been to acquire power pitching.
In December of 2020, Dombrowski traded for José Alvarado, one of the hardest-throwing lefties in the sport.
To begin 2021 he acquires Sam Coonrod, another upper 90s arm. This off-season he added Jeurys Familia, Nick Nelson, and James Norwood who all throw more than 95 miles per hour.
Phillies as an entire pen rank fourth in fastball velocity, only behind known power pitching teams like the Yankees, White Sox, and Royals.
While they have sprinkled in a few guys with less velocity, Dombrowski wants to give his bullpen as much upside as possible.
Since they haven’t shown a willingness to pay big money for a top closer, they will have to try and mold one themselves. Acquiring pitchers with velocity and hoping they mold into strike throwers isn’t a bad strategy at all.
If none of the names I mentioned work out, he and the front office is probably going to try and find more high-velocity replacements.