If the Phillies are to push their way into the postseason, they’ll have to do it without one of their key relievers as an oblique injury will keep Archie Bradley out for the remainder of the regular season.
Bradley, who is one of Joe Girardi’s preferred high-leverage relievers, felt discomfort in his side after pitching on Thursday night. A similar injury put him on the injured list earlier this season for five weeks but Bradley hopes to return next month if the Phillies reach the postseason.
“It’s the toughest thing as a player to go in and talk about something being wrong because you want to play and you don’t want something to be wrong,” Bradley said Saturday afternoon. “But when you feel something you have to be honest. And so I went in, got looked at this morning and there’s definitely some stuff going on. It didn’t feel as bad, but it was like, man, this reminded me a lot of what I felt earlier this year.”
Without Bradley, Girardi’s high-leverage options appear to be closer Ian Kennedy, Hector Neris, and José Alvarado. Sam Coonrod, another option, is dealing with a thumb injury that the team hopes he can pitch through and Connor Brogdon is on the injured list until at least Tuesday.
Cam Bedrosian struggled Friday in a big spot and Bailey Falter has never pitched on back-to-back days. Ramón Rosso, a seldom-used low-leverage reliever, could be asked to pitch late innings. With a week left in the season, the options are slimming
Bradley finished the season with a 4.34 ERA and 7.1 strikeouts per nine innings, both of which were the worst marks of his career since moving in 2017 to the bullpen. But he seemed to be finding a groove as seven of his last eight appearances were scoreless.
“I’m not afraid to speak honestly. Not only us making the playoffs, but I’m a free agent at the end of the year. All that plays into my head,” Bradley said. “But I was very close to not saying something and trying to pitch through it. But then it’s like, ‘Man, what if I hurt it worse, what if really one, two, or three days could be the rest I needed?’ And then obviously getting it looked at it was worse than I think we all thought it was. If there was any chance of me being able to pitch through it I would definitely be doing that. It’s just not really an option at this point right now and so the plan is do everything we can to rest it and heal it and try to be ready to pitch in the playoffs.”
Oblique injuries tend to linger so it’s probably optimistic to count on Bradley for the postseason. If the Phillies win the division, their first game would be Oct. 8, less than two weeks after Bradley was placed on the injured list. Bradley does plan on travelling with the team for the final six games in Atlanta and Miami.
“I bring energy. There’s a lot I do inside the clubhouse that helps us get ready to play,” Bradley said. “I’m not dead. I’m hurt, you know? Don’t get me wrong, I’m bummed, I’m pissed, but at the same time the Phillies have to go beat the Pirates today. And so I’m going to continue my rehab but also continue to be the leader of this team. Not the leader, but a leader on this team and continue to push these guys. We still have a chance to go win. That’s the only way I pitch again this year is if we go win. I want that for both of us.”
The Phillies will need to add relief pitching again this offseason and Bradley, 29, said he is open to returning next season.
“I would love to come back here. I loved it here. I loved everything about it. I loved the guys,” Bradley said. “I think when you look at it from a professional standpoint, the core group of guys is here. You look at the rotation coming back next year. The core position players are here. I still consider myself a high-leverage reliever that has more to prove and better days to pitch ahead of him. Not that I pitched bad. I know I am capable of being better.”
“I hope we do make the playoffs. But I felt like this group of guys came together this year. We started something. You don’t get a chance very often to look at the next couple of years and think you can really truly compete. You look at the groups of the Utleys and Rollins and Howards. I think we have a group like that here. If we can keep some guys together and maybe bring me back, it would be really cool.”
The Phillies placed Matt Moore on the 60-day injured list to make room for Kyle Dohy on the 40-man roster. ... Matt Vierling started in center and batted leadoff as Odubel Herrera was held out by a sore right ankle. ... Adonis Medina is the leading candidate to start Sunday’s bullpen game against Pirates right-hander Max Kranick, who is from Lackawanna County.