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A Putrid Bullpen Does Not Mean Future Futility

We offer a snorkel amidst the waterfall of runs the club has allowed this week.

There's been at least one pleasant surprise among the rubble
There's been at least one pleasant surprise among the rubble
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies bullpen has been bad - like, historically bad - down the stretch. Their ERA in September is over 8.00, and five separate pitchers have ERAs over 10.00 for the month. Jeanmar Gomez has imploded as a closer and Hector Neris has struggled to find his control, gutting the once-solid part of the bullpen. We knew they weren't calling up good pitchers in September, but the idea was that the depth would help keep the Phillies afloat through some regression and limited workloads for the top pitchers in the bullpen.

The other part of all of this was that, with all of the new pitchers, somebody would hopefully stand out as a keeper. The great news is that appears to have happened. The Phillies called up a bunch of 40-man retreads, but one of the retreads was a player making his debut in Joely Rodriguez. Rodriguez looks like a guy who could be a long-term asset for the Phillies. He is up from 91-93 he sat as a starter and has been 94-96, touching all the way up to 98 out of the bullpen. He does not have pinpoint command, and hasn't been overwhelming in missing bats, but he has generated weak contact on the balls put into play, and the Phillies have been starved for a quality lefty arm since sending Jake Diekman to Texas.

The rest of the group has been...horrible. Michael Mariot looked briefly competent, but he is walking a batter per inning and doesn't feature overwhelming stuff. The rest of the group have had very little positives to speak of, as pitchers like Severino Gonzalez and Colton Murray imploded even more. This, thankfully, is where the good news comes in: They could all be gone without any problem. We are all well aware of the 40-man roster crunch facing the Phillies this winter, and right now the bullpen could feature the biggest casualties.

So, where does this leave us, and why is this not all bad? Because you only need seven relievers. Right now, the Phillies look like they might have four, depending on how Jeanmar's arbitration looks to be going. Gomez has imploded, but he is still a competent middle reliever for a team. Add that to Neris, Edubray Ramos, and Rodriguez, and there is something to build from. The Phillies will need to add an arm in free agency, but with a market flooded with high-end relievers, there is room to find bargain reclamation projects in the mold of David Hernandez, who could factor into that 7th/8th inning role. Add in your normal supply of non-roster invites for the sixth spot and a competition among the surviving jobless starters, and you have a bullpen that could be a bit improved on the 2016 version. The Phillies abundance of minor league pitchers could also factor in arms like Victor Arano if he comes on strong, and a player like Jimmy Cordero if he recovers from injury.

Either way, the dreck that is currently populating the Phillies bullpen won't be here for long. It is a disappointment in that none of them could carve out a long-term role for themselves. But the Phillies did find themselves a lefty reliever this September, and that, truly, is something worth cheering for.