Before Friday’s 7-2 loss against the San Francisco Giants, Charlie Manuel said that bolstering the bullpen was his No. 1 wish for the trade deadline.
And then during the game the Phillies manager showed what little confidence he has in his relievers.
The Phillies trailed 2-1 in the sixth with the bases loaded and one out. Starter Vance Worley was tiring, but Manuel left the right-hander in the game. And Worley served up a no-doubt-about-it grand slam to shortstop Brandon Crawford.
Worley would throw a career-high 119 pitches.
Afterwards, Manuel and Worley both said they felt the pitcher had enough left in the tank to get batters out.
Manuel also said that it would have been a difficult situation to bring young relievers such as Michael Schwimer and Jeremy Horst into a bases loaded, one-out situation.
Yet that is what a bullpen is for, to replace a tiring starter.
To his credit Worley wouldn’t take the bait when asked if he felt he was being squeezed by home plate umpire Laz Diaz in the sixth inning.
“No,” he answered. “I guess I was just missing around the plate.”
Worley didn’t make the statement with conviction, but he still took the blame for throwing sinkers that didn’t sink.
Who knows if the bullpen would have fared any better in that situation, but they couldn’t have been worse.
And we also know that the manager was gun-shy about using his relievers.
Who can blame him?
Entering the game the Phillies bullpen ERA was 4.87, the second worst in Major League Baseball.
The bullpen has been far from the only problem. Yet the bullpen, especially with the recent struggles of closer Jonathan Papelbon, has not been carrying its collective weight.
When the manager doesn’t signal for help when his starter is noticeably wearing down, it shows a lack of confidence in a unit that hasn’t inspired any for quite some time.