Ordinarily, blowing a three-run lead in the eighth inning and getting walked off in the ninth — in a mid-September game in the midst of a playoff race, no less — would qualify as a punch to a team’s collective solar plexus.
But the Phillies must be numb to that feeling by now.
The worst bullpen in baseball (more on that later) struck again Thursday night in Miami. Tommy Hunter coughed up a 6-3 lead, then Brandon Workman gave up a game-winning RBI single to Jorge Alfaro. The Marlins emerged with a 7-6 victory in the first of seven games in five days between the teams.
Oh, and Phillies co-ace Zack Wheeler cut his fingernail while putting on his pants and won’t pitch until Monday at the earliest.
Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?
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Alec Bohm, Rookie of the Year?
Let’s take a quick break from the bullpen’s latest meltdown to ask a serious question: Is Alec Bohm the best rookie in the National League?
Surely, the Phillies third baseman keeps strengthening his case.
Bohm recorded two hits and drove in another run Thursday night in Miami, his 25th game since getting called up on Aug. 13. He has at least one hit in 16 games and reached base safely in 19 games. He has driven in 14 runs in his last 18 games and collected 16 RBIs overall.
Jake Arrieta has praised Bohm for his mature plate approach. Bryce Harper said he has the look of a future MVP. Down to his last strike Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox, Bohm delivered a walk-off, two-run single that might have surprised everyone except his teammates.
“We kind of actually called it,” pitcher Zach Eflin said. “We knew if Bohmer was getting up, he was going to get the job done. You look at him and he looks like he’s been playing ball up here for 10 years."
Indeed, Bohm is gaining a reputation for coming through in clutch situations. He’s 12-for-25 (.480) with five walks with runners in scoring position and 18-for-46 (.391) with seven walks with men on base. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he’s the first Phillies rookie since at least 1920 to have a walk-off RBI in back-to-back home games.
“He’s a hitter,” manager Joe Girardi said recently. “I’ve said all along, I think this kid’s really going to hit and he’s also going to hit for power because I think his approach is great. He is not a guy that just looks to leave the ballpark; he drives the ball gap to gap. And as you mature as a man, those gap-to-gap become homers. This kid really knows how to hit, and it’s going to continue.”
So, where does Bohm rank alongside other NL rookies?
Entering play Thursday night, Bohm was second in doubles (five) and RBIs (15), fourth in hits (25), and fifth in plate appearances (96). Among rookies with at least 75 plate appearances, Bohm ranked third in on-base percentage (.344) and fourth in batting average (.291) and slugging (.419).
His chief competition in the Rookie of the Year voting figures to come from San Diego Padres second baseman Jake Cronenworth (.323/.379/.551 entering play Thursday).
Two pitchers are also making bids for the award. Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Dustin May has a 2.88 ERA in 40 2/3 innings over eight starts, while former Phillies top prospect Sixto Sanchez has a 1.80 ERA in 25 innings over four starts. Sanchez’s biggest drawback is that he didn’t make his debut until Aug. 22.
The Phillies haven’t had a Rookie of the Year since Ryan Howard in 2005. Rhys Hoskins finished fourth in the balloting in 2017, despite not making his debut until Aug. 10 and playing only 50 games, by virtue of hitting 18 homers and slugging .618.
“You can’t make this up,” Joe Girardi said of the injury to Wheeler. Matt Breen has more details here.
In case you couldn’t bear to watch, Matt sets the scene after the Miami meltdown, including a conversation in the dugout between Girardi and J.T. Realmuto about what went wrong this time.
On the injury front, the Phillies expect that Jay Bruce (left quad) will play again before the end of the regular season; reliever Jose Alvarez (testicular contusion), probably not until the playoffs.
Tonight: Aaron Nola starts the first game of a doubleheader in Miami, 5:10 p.m.
Tomorrow: Spencer Howard faces the Marlins, 6:10 p.m.
Sunday: Phillies and Marlins play two (more), 1:10 p.m.
Monday: Finale of seven-game, five-day series in Miami, 4:10 p.m.
Tuesday: Phillies return home to face the Mets, 7:05 p.m.
Stat of the day
How dreadful has the Phillies bullpen been this season? Consider this: Since Aug. 21 — when David Hale, Workman and Heath Hembree were acquired in a pair of trades — the bullpen’s overall ERA is 6.59, one full run lower than it was before the deals.
Amazing, isn’t it?
Hale, Workman, Hembree and David Phelps, who was obtained in another trade 10 days after the others, were supposed to bring stability to the reliever corps. Instead, here are their numbers with the Phillies:
Workman: 1-2, 4.35 ERA, two blown saves in 10 games
Hembree: 9.53 ERA, five homers allowed in seven games
Phelps: 19.29 ERA, three homers allowed in four games
Hale: 6.75 ERA, one strikeout in four innings over two games
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter @ScottLauber.
Answer: Thanks for the question, @BogartD6, and the kind words. (You’re doing just fine with Twitter, by the way!)
One thing I’ve learned in 15 years of covering baseball is never to say “never” about anything until the team does. Odubel Herrera is still in the organization, albeit not on the 40-man roster or in the 60-man player pool, and the Phillies have not yet said, publicly or privately, that he will never play for them again. I, therefore, am loath to do so.
That said, if the Phillies didn’t add Herrera to the player pool this week — with Roman Quinn (concussion) and Scott Kingery (back spasms) sidelined and Girardi’s reluctance to play Adam Haseley against left-handed pitching — I’m not sure when they will.