I believed that after struggling so badly through the first few weeks of the season, the Phillies’ bullpen would start to improve. I’ll concede that this isn’t the most talented group of relievers ever assembled, but I didn’t think they were historically bad. So it stood to reason that they’d start to pitch at least a little better at some point.
I was wrong. The Phillies relievers have somehow gotten even worse, and were the main culprits in the Phillies blowing two leads - one of them seven runs! - in the process of being swept in a doubleheader by the Blue Jays.
In the first game, the Phillies jumped out to a 2-0 lead. That lasted until the fourth when the Jays got a run back against Spencer Howard. Girardi hasn’t shown much patience with the rookie starter since his call up, and once again had a quick hook. The relievers would have to make that one-run lead hold up over the final 3.1 innings, and unsurprisingly, they were not up to the task.
They might have pulled it off had Jose Alvarez - one of the few relatively reliable options in the bullpen - not had his testicles presumably destroyed by a line drive.
Oh my Jose Alvarez right in the....— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) August 20, 2020
Carted off the field
I don’t know how Alvarez was able to field that ball and make that play. Most men would have just curled up and died.
With Alvarez rendered unavailable for the remainder of the day (and probably a lot longer) , the job of protecting the one-run lead fell to Tommy Hunter. Predictably he failed, giving up a game-tying double to Cavan Biggio in the sixth.
I don’t think it mattered who Girardi called on to pitch the seventh. I believe that any one of them would have lost the game at that point. Girardi settled upon Ramon Rosso, and sure enough, with help from Roman Quinn’s error, Rosso gave up the winning run.
The Phillies looked poised to salvage the second game of the doubleheader when they scored seven runs in the first inning. However, their starting pitcher for the game was Vince Velasquez which meant that this as tenuous as a seven-run lead can get.
Sure enough, Velasquez walked the first batter he faced en route to giving two runs back in the first. He settled down afterwards which meant that people started saying nice things about him.
Vince Velasquez just struck out the side in order in the 5th inning. He has 7 K’s on the day.— Alex Carr (@AlexCarrMLB) August 20, 2020
His only mistake today: a home run to Teoscar Hernandez in the first inning.
Since then, he’s been shutdown.
Please stop doing this, people: Stop saying nice things about Vince Velasquez when he shows these brief flashes, because we know it isn’t going to end well. Lucy is always going to pull the football away, and Velasquez is always going to be the guy who can’t put it together.
Look at this recap from almost exactly one year ago! Look at it! Vince Velasquez was handed a seven-run lead and blew it! At the time, people said that was one of the worst losses they can remember. Well, they only lost one game that day, and as far as I know, none of the players damaged their testicles. So all things considered, that was probably a better day for the Phillies than today was.
Anyway, Velasquez started the sixth with a 7-2 lead. Three pitchers, two home runs, two errors, and one wild pitch later, the Phillies trailed 9-7.
The Phillies offense apparently remembered that they are allowed to score after the third inning, and rallied in the top of the seventh. They scored a run and had the tying runner on third, but were unable to complete the comeback. That’s probably for the best as it saved us from watching the Phillies blow it yet again.
The Phillies will look to put this ugliness behind them as they travel to Atlanta for a weekend series. Fortunately, Aaron Nola will be on the mound on Friday, and he can generally be depended on to pitch deep into games. Because if the Phillies want any chance to win a game, they need to make sure the bullpen is involved as little as possible.