Is the bullpen shattering the Phillies confidence?
One has to wonder how much the Phillies bullpen struggles are demoralizing the team.
The Phillies suffered their sixth blown save in Friday's 5-3 loss to the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.
With the six blown saves, the Phillies are tied for the second most in the Major Leagues.
Mike Adams deserves credit for facing the media scrutiny afterwards, answering all the questions, but with an 8.41 ERA one has to wonder how much longer he will be pitching in the eighth inning, or any inning at all.
Adams allowed three runs without recording an out in the eighth inning, turning a 3-2 lead into the Phillies eighth loss in the last 10 games to the Nationals.
Who would have thought at this point that closer Jonathan Papelbon would be the least of the Phillies concerns?
With a 2.38 ERA and eight saves in nine chances, Papelbon is one pitcher who has inspired confidence to this point.
Getting to Papelbon has been the problem.
So one has to wonder how much the relievers are pressing.
"It is always disappointing when you go out there and don't do the job," Adams said. "Especially with the inconsistency of the bullpen – it is a little more heightened."
Adams says the relievers haven't been talking among themselves about the struggles, but that doesn't mean it hasn't entered their thought process. And Adams and the rest of the bullpen understand how important a consistent bullpen is.
"If we don't do our job, we're not going to be successful as a team," Adams said. "You go out there and try not to think about the past and put it behind you, attack hitters and do it the right way."
Manager Ryne Sandberg has done a good job of not expressing outward frustration with his bullpen. What is said behind closed doors is anybody's guess.
"We've shown good stuff at various times, we just need the consistency," Sandberg said. "We need consistency out of the bullpen."
And while the bullpen's problems were magnified, the offense shouldn't be let off the hook.
After scoring three unearned first inning runs on Marlon Byrd's three-run home run, the Phillies were blanked the rest of the way.
The Phillies were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
So the Phillies need to hit better in the clutch, pitch better in the late innings and more importantly have the confidence that both can be accomplished on a regular basis.