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2020 in review: The forgotten of the bullpen

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Leading off the player reviews, we look back at four guys who were part of the roster churn at the back end of the bullpen

MLB: AUG 13 Orioles at Phillies Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The numbers:

Austin Davis: 4 G, 3 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 K, 21.00 ERA (7.19 FIP)
Trevor Kelley: 4 G, 3 13 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 HR, 1 BB, 5 K, 10.80 ERA (8.89 FIP)
Mauricio Llovera: 1 G, 1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 K, 36.00 ERA (7.69 FIP)
Garrett Cleavinger: 1 G, 23 IP, 2 H, 1 HR, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 13.50 ERA (19.69 FIP)

The good:

Um....

Let’s look for some good here, because everyone needs some good news.

Llovera made his major league debut and with a proper minor league season might be able to develop into a something useful for the bullpen during a normal season. Same thing with Cleavinger. Lefties that throw as hard as he does don’t usually get thrown to the curb so easily, even if their debut was a wretch-inducing as his was. Davis got a team to somehow want to add him to their roster AND got that same team to trade something to the Phillies in return. Win!

Kelley?

Get back to me on that one.

The bad:

Where do we start?

The issue isn’t really with these guys being bad - that’s something we already knew. The issue surrounds this team’s continued inability to either draft, develop or acquire pitchers capable of getting big league hitters out with more than just a sinker and a prayer.

The biggest issue we saw this year with the Phillies’ bullpen was a distinct lack of velocity among those pitchers. We all know that today’s game is dominated by pitchers that can throw a baseball over 95 miles per hour. Many teams that made the playoffs this year did so on the backs of younger pitchers that possess this ability and can also mix in some sort of average to better breaking pitch. As the Phillies season teetered on the brink of annihilation, they were forced to hand the ball off to the likes of these four arms. Cleavinger did possess that rare combination of left-handedness and power, but the team obviously did not trust that combination and he only saw time in the one appearance. Davis somehow got repeated viewings on the mound, most if not all of which ended in disaster. Kelley was a sidearm experiment that relied more on trickery than stuff. Llovera might have a future with this team beyond this year, but without the benefit of the minor league season, he wasn’t able to hone his craft to the point he needed to.

It’s an issue that the team has identified when Matt Klentak was fired stepped down and now it will be one of the biggest focuses as they enter the next phase of their organizational review. Without a significant uptick in the ability to develop the kinds of pitchers that today’s game demands, we’ll probably be forced to watch more of the same with this bullpen that we saw this year.

The future:

Somehow, the Phillies got a team to take Davis off of their hands and even got a player in return who might help remedy this issue.

Kelley will easily be sent packing in the coming roster churn, but Llovera and Cleavinger should get another chance in the 2021 season at some point. They really need some seasoning though.