The Philadelphia Phillies have struggled to find relief in the ninth inning this season. Maybe they should try a position player instead.
As the Philadelphia Phillies have stumbled out of the gate in 2020, their bullpen has been a major reason why. The Phillies sit at 10-14, dead last in the NL East, a disappointing start to a season that had playoff aspirations. The bullpen is a major reason why, as Philadelphia relievers have combined for an 8.00 ERA, the worst in baseball by nearly two full runs.
Those issues are particularly evident in the ninth inning. Phillies’ closers have been so bad that they have been dramatically outperformed by position players pitching.
Those numbers for the Phillies? That happens to include Neil Walker‘s stint as a reliever, when he allowed a walk while recording two outs on August 13.
To their credit, the Phillies have attempted to fix their bullpen woes. Hector Neris was bumped from the closer role, and has posted a dreadful 11.12 ERA, allowing ten hits and five walks in 5.2 innings. Brandon Workman came over in a trade with the Red Sox, but he has not exactly been the savior of the Phillies bullpen – in his 2.2 innings, he has allowed two runs on six hits and two walks, numbers that would have been worse had Andrew Knapp not gotten away with blocking the plate on Sunday.
Those bullpen woes have played a direct part in the Phillies’ record as well. Seven losses have been hung on their relievers, and the Phillies have blown six out of nine save attempts this season.
At this point, nothing short of a complete overhaul of the bullpen will make a difference. The problem is that the Phillies have until Monday to make that happen. With so many teams in the playoff hunt, and in need of bullpen help, the Phillies might not be able to get enough pieces to make a difference.
If not, maybe they can try Neil Walker again. After all, position players pitching have been much better than the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen this season.