Archie Bradley sat down for a Zoom call with reporters after his first outing of spring training and expressed a concern that befits the times.

“Am I off-center?” he said.

It was a fair question. The Phillies unveiled their new-look bullpen Friday in Clearwater, Fla., and first impressions never mattered more. This was only the sixth exhibition game – against a traveling contingent of the no-name Pittsburgh Pirates, no less – but after the damage inflicted by the worst bullpen in baseball last year, the six-reliever parade to the mound felt oddly significant, at least as March 5 story lines go.

Bradley went first, followed by Héctor Neris, José Alvarado, Connor Brogdon, Sam Coonrod, and finally JoJo Romero. Each took an inning, one seemingly throwing harder than the pitcher before him. And when they were through, they had held the Pirates to two hits and two walks, struck out eight, and provided evidence to back the Phillies’ hope that this year will be better than last.

Or, as Bryce Harper put it, “You see that they’re big leaguers. You know?”

It wasn’t meant as faint praise. On the contrary, Harper has lauded president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski for the bullpen rebuild, which included signing Bradley as a free agent, trading for Alvarado and Coonrod, and adding veterans Brandon Kintzler, Tony Watson and Héctor Rondón on minor-league contracts.

But the bar was set so low last year by a mishmash of journeymen and not-ready-for-prime-time youngsters who produced a 7.06 ERA and more blown saves (14) than converted ones (11) that the Phillies almost couldn’t help but improve. The question now, it seems, is how much better will this bullpen be?

Check back for the answer. But a few conclusions could be drawn from Friday’s big reveal. No matter what happens, this group will feature more velocity, variety, and personality.

» READ MORE: Phillies 3, Pirates 0: Bryce Harper homers on first swing of spring training

Adding velocity was important to Girardi. Last season, the average fastball velocity of Phillies relievers was 93.0 mph, 24th in the majors, with none topping 95.8 mph. Unsurprisingly, they combined for a 22.9% strikeout rate, tied for 21st. Late in games, when they needed swings and misses, they were unable to rear back and overpower hitters.

And now?

“There’s some octane down there,” pitching coach Caleb Cotham said before spring training.

Even in that context, Alvarado’s spring debut was breathtaking.

The big lefty threw nine pitches, four of which registered at least 99 mph. His sinker touched 100 mph twice, a mark reached by only two Phillies pitchers (Seranthony Dominguez seven times; Luis Garcia once) in the last five years. Alvarado’s slider came in at a cool 92.7 mph.

“Imagine that,” Girardi said. “Those were fastballs years and years ago.”

Or even last year.

Brogdon was the Phillies’ hardest-throwing reliever then. But his 95-mph fastball to open the seventh inning must’ve seemed like a cool breeze between Alvarado’s triple-digit heat and Coonrod’s 98.8 and 98.3 mph sinkers in the eighth.

“You can have high velocity and not throw strikes and then it doesn’t do you any good,” Girardi said. “You can not have high velocity and be very successful. But the high velocity gives you the opportunity to not have such pinpoint control. I thought it was something that we lacked last year.”

The Phillies aren’t relying solely on velocity. Bradley throws a curveball, Neris a splitter, and Kintzler a sinker. Brogdon’s high three-quarters arm slot gives him a different look. From the left side, Romero throws a slider and Watson a changeup. All good bullpens have diversity.

They also have an attitude. Some bullpens develop theirs organically over time, but Bradley is attempting to speed up the process. The 28-year-old with the bushy beard is loud, outgoing, and “a good force for a lot of young guys,” according to Cotham. Three weeks into camp, he’s already trying to bring some swagger.

“I would say here we have to create it,” he said. “We’re kind of starting it now. From the struggles last year, myself, Kintzler, Watson, some of these older guys, Neris, we’re really trying to step up and create a culture of what our bullpen is going to become. We’re trying to create that identity, who we are, the way we’re going to attack, the way we’re going to talk and stay together.

“To create that identity, you have to have names, and there’s names here on the back of guys’ jerseys, names that guys recognize, and it’s like, ‘Oh, this guy can really pitch.’ Now it’s like, how do we make this thing work? The one thing we’re doing is creating an attitude of the way we’re going to pitch out of the pen.”

» READ MORE: Why veteran reliever Brandon Kintzler bet on himself that he could win a job

It’s going to take time. Friday was definitely a start.

“I’m pretty encouraged,” Girardi said. “I know it’s only one day. But there’s some big stuff down there. It’s nice to see.”