Matt Klentak preached throughout the offseason that the Phillies wanted to upgrade the starting rotation prior to the 2016 season, adding some more depth to avoid having to call up certain unqualified arms. If Monday is any indication, the addition of Jeremy Hellickson could be fruitful. However, Hellickson won't win many games if what happened after he left his outing Monday becomes a common occurrence. It very well could happen all too often.
For seven innings, the Phillies looked decent. An eighth inning bullpen meltdown erased any good feelings that may have existed as the Reds picked up a 6-2 Opening Day win.
You can't fault Hellickson, who went six innings allowing just three hits and an unearned run (on a dropped ball at first by Ryan Howard). He didn't walk anyone and struck out six batters. When he left the game, Hellickson was the proud owner of a 2-1 lead, thanks to a second inning two-run homer off the bat of Freddy Galvis.
Freddy brings the power!
That would end up being the lone offense of the day for the Phillies.
Raisel Iglesias, one of the young arms the Reds are counting on to impress in 2016, did just that in his 6 2/3 innings of work. Iglesias allowed two earned runs on six hits, did not walk a batter, and struck out seven.
There was some intrigue (if you want to call it that) as to who Pete Mackanin would call upon if the game was close in the late innings. A few weeks ago, Andrew Bailey even seemed to have an inside track to be the team's closer. He ended up not making the roster. That's the type of season this bullpen may have.
Hellickson was taken out after six innings despite having thrown just 79 pitches. He likely could have gone at least another inning, but Mackanin was also looking for some offense in the 7th inning, resulting in the pinch-hit attempt for Emmanuel Burriss.
After using Jeanmar Gomez for a scoreless seventh inning, it was David Hernandez, whom many believed would be the team's closer heading into the season, trying his hand in the 8th. It did not go well.
A leadoff walk to Adam Duvall kicked off the frame, and it was downhill from there. Hernandez allowed a high-chopper double out of the reach of Darin Ruf, followed by a walk to speedster Billy Hamilton, then proceeded to depart with the bases loaded and not a single out to his ledger.
After a sac fly to tie the game, Joey Votto netted the crushing blow, a two-run single to center to put the Reds up 4-2. It was a meager end in the Phillies' attempt to control Votto, who to that point, had been 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Jay Bruce slapped another two-run single to center field to put the game out of reach. It was an 8th inning that felt like it took about 3 hours to finish. Somehow, it was probably less than that.
The Phillies may have upgraded their rotation heading into the season. The bullpen, by comparison, likely won't be very good in 2016. This is probably just a taste of just how bad things could get.
And go figure. One of the positives the Phillies had a couple of years ago was the bullpen. Jonathan Papelbon, Jake Diekman, Antonio Bastardo and Justin De Fratus were reliable to varying degrees, and of course Ken Giles came on later in the season to the tune of a 1.18 ERA, and kept on rolling in 2015.
Earlier Monday, the Astros announced that Luke Gregerson would be the team's closer, not Giles. Hey, Houston, uh, we'll take him back if you aren't going to use him to do the thing you said you were going to use him to do. Thanks.