The Philadelphia Phillies have suffered eight blown saves in the last nine games and a Major League-worst 22 this season.
And they haven’t even reached the All-Star break.
Heading into the 2021 season, the bullpen was expected to be improved.
It hasn’t happened.
Still, the Phillies will be looking for their second straight win when they host the San Diego Padres on Saturday. Brad Miller hit a walk-off pinch-hit double in the bottom of the 10th inning Friday for a 4-3 victory. Miller’s hit masked a blown save by Ranger Suarez in the ninth.
“There’s no doubt the fight everybody has here on this team,” Miller said on a postgame interview on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Unless the bullpen can start closing games, the Phillies will be left out of the playoffs again. They haven’t reached the postseason since 2011.
“Obviously, this is a performance-based business,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “And you have to perform or changes are made. And that’s for everyone. It includes me, too. If the team doesn’t perform to the standards, I’m the one that’s in charge and I’m the one that is responsible. It’s the business we live in.”
Didi Gregorius provided a spark by returning from the injured list to launch a solo home run.
Now the Phillies must hope that Zach Eflin can pitch deep into Saturday’s game with all the issues in the bullpen. Eflin (2-6, 4.20 ERA) will be making his 16th start. For Eflin’s career against the Padres, he’s 0-1 with a 4.66 ERA in two starts.
“I believe we can win, but we have to start doing it,” Girardi said. “That’s the bottom line.”
The Padres suffered a difficult 5-4 loss Thursday on the road against the Cincinnati Reds and showed some resilience by rallying for three runs in the ninth before falling in extra innings Friday.
Now they’ll hope to avoid a rare third straight defeat on Saturday.
“It will be a challenge,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said of how they’ll prepare all weekend. “We will lighten the pregame work. It’s a team we haven’t seen. If we do much, it will be meetings and probably hitting in the cage.”
Fernando Tatis Jr. doubled twice and drove in a run and continued to show why he was named an All-Star Game starter. Tatis will be the first San Diego player to start via the fan vote since Tony Gwynn in 1999.
“It feels great. It’s a dream come true,” Tatis said. “It’s something that you dream about. … You can feel the love from the fans. They keep showing their love, showing their support. It’s a huge step for me, but at the same time it’s a huge step for the organization.”
Even with a National League-best 26 home runs, Tatis is far from satisfied with his progress.
“I’m still 22. I’m still learning. I feel like every year I keep getting better,” Tatis said. “I have to keep improving my defense. Also hitting, there are a few things I need to improve. At the same time, we are being smart about it. Make it simple, enjoy the game, work hard. I feel like everything will take care of the rest.”
Yu Darvish (7-2, 2.44 ERA) will take the mound for his 17th start. Darvish is 1-0 with a miniscule 1.42 ERA in four career starts against the Phillies.
–Field Level Media