As we sit here excitedly scouring for Phillies news as we inch closer and closer to Spring Training, it’s time to take a look at what has now become one of the Phillies strong suits…. The Bullpen. For years, our Phillies have failed miserably to put together a bullpen that can be trusted. We basically have been without a shutdown closer since Papelbon… sure we had some success (I guess we can call it that) with Hector Neris, but before last year, Philadelphia was known for not having a proven lock down closer to turn to in a pivotal spot. Dombrowski made some moves last year to piece together a bullpen of arms that were looking for a bounce back such as Knebel, Familia, and Brad Hand, spending $22 million on what he hoped would be strength to bring us into contention in the NL East. As we know, Knebel struggled before losing the season to injury & Familia was so horrific, he was actually DFA’d in early August. Hand’s numbers on the surface ended up being serviceable, but he wasn’t a dependable arm at times due to lacking an out pitch. But now…. It’s time to be excited Philadelphia. We truly have 4 Closing options for Rob Thompson to work with, allowing him the opportunity to mix and match as well as preserve some guys as we look to make another deep run.
Dombrowski did a terrific job of adding arms to the bullpen this year. As we examine the depth chart, our bullpen is shaping up to look like a stable featuring Gregory Soto, Craig Kimbrel, Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Alvarado, and Matt Strahm. I expect the rest of the bullpen to be filled out by Bailey Falter, Connor Brogdon, Andrew Bellatti, Nick Nelson, Cristopher Sanchez and possibly a few non-40man roster invites when injuries occur. But, how will Rob Thompson play out the main guys is the question we find ourselves asking. Kimbrel and Soto, two huge additions made this offseason, have been proven closers before joining the team this offseason. Alvarado and Dominguez formed a lethal 1-2 punch, interchanging the closer spot in the post season which allowed Thompson to utilize the Lefty/Righty splits. Thompson will now have 4 dominant pitchers to rely on between the 7th, 8th, & 9th inning to lock down wins, something that we need to do to stay competitive with Atlanta and New York as well as allows the starters some extra rest heading into the late innings, after finishing 2nd in the NL in pitches by starters in 2022.
The best part about these 4 proven arms is the fact that Philadelphia now has 3 power arms averaging pumping heat with Dominguez averaging 97 on his fastball, Soto averaging 98mph on his sinker, and Alvarado averaging 98.5. Pairing this with Kimbrel’s 14.4 career K/9, we are in for a season full of high K’s high energy, and a rocking stadium after that final out in the 9th inning. Philly Rob has the bullpen pieces, it’s time to get excited Philadelphia.