Matt Klentak scribbled a list of names Wednesday afternoon and folded the sheet of paper into his back pocket just in case he had trouble remembering the acquisitions the Phillies made since the end of the offseason -- which the general manager previously labeled as “exceptionally excellent.”
He wrote down names such as Jay Bruce and Brad Miller; Drew Smyly and Jason Vargas; Blake Parker and Mike Morin; Logan Morrison and an infielder named Jose Pirela; and Corey Dickerson and Dan Straily, who were added just hours earlier.
Wednesday, Klentak said before a 5-1 loss to the Giants at Citizens Bank Park, was more than just baseball’s trade deadline. Instead, the general manager said, it was the “culmination of two months of roster building.”
But it took just a few more hours to see the holes that were not filled by Klentak’s sheet of paper.
The Phillies made a slew of additions over the last two months, but they still left their two biggest deficiencies -- the bullpen and starting rotation -- rather thin. And it was those two units -- which they tried over the last two months to patch together -- that did the Phillies in Wednesday night.
“We explored all that,” Kletak said of making bigger additions. “And obviously we got what we got.”
Vince Velasquez and Adam Morgan combined for five runs in the sixth inning to dig a hole that proved too deep once the Phillies finally rallied.
Velasquez started the sixth with a walk and a two-run homer by Buster Posey. Pulled back and forth between the rotation and bullpen, Velasquez pitched five strong innings before running into trouble in the sixth. He was reminded that five innings is usually the limit for a Phillies starter not named Aaron Nola.
“We asked him to go out there and elevate his fastball and he went out there and elevated his fastball,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We asked him to not pick at the bottom of the zone and he did exactly what we were looking for and gave us five strong innings of work and he wasn’t able to get through the sixth for us.”
Morgan relieved and allowed a homer on his second pitch and a two-run homer on his 12th. Morgan has had a fine season, but he was pushed into an inopportune situation.
Pablo Sandoval, who greeted him with that first homer, feasts on left-handed pitching. Yet the Phillies bullpen does not have many other options for that spot besides the left-handed Morgan.
“We had Morgan as our number one option out of the 'pen going into the game based on their lineup construction. We had a game plan to go quickly to Morgan in leverage situations even earlier in the game like we did knowing that we had some left behind him,” Kapler said.
“I don’t think Mo had his best stuff. I didn’t think the ball was coming out the way it normally does. That’s something I’d like to talk to him about before I determine if that was the case or not. That’s what it looked like from the dugout.”
In a flash, the Phillies were down five runs. And that was enough to make their rally in the seventh carry little threat. The Phillies had runners on second and third with no outs, but they were already down five.
The lineup struggled against Giants starter Jeff Samardzija, who used his cutter to allow just three hits in six scoreless innings. And it did not seem to matter much that they were finally putting something together against the bullpen.
Bryce Harper walked and J.T. Realmuto doubled before Adam Haseley scored Harper with a groundout. The rally ended with just one run after Maikel Franco popped up. The Phillies were still down four. And that was too much.
Wednesday night was not the first time that the rotation and bullpen have struggled this season, but it is the first time this season that they have struggled without the thought that reinforcements could be on the way. The trade deadline is over. Two months of roster building have ended.
The Phillies answered their struggling rotation by signing Smyly, trading a double-A catcher for Vargas, and buying Straily so they can stash him in triple A.
The bullpen -- missing the three big-ticket relievers the team signed the last two winters -- has been taxed by injuries. So the Phillies signed Morin and Parker after Minnesota jettisoned them. They’ll hope Nick Pivetta and Zach Eflin -- the latter pitched the ninth inning -- can transition to relievers after being bumped from the rotation.
No more help is on the way. The Phillies have what they have.
“I’ve said time and time again, we like the group of guys that we have in here,” Rhys Hoskins said. “We’re confident in this bunch. We just have to get rolling. That’s all it is.”