Phillies

Phillies' bullpen problems mount as Seranthony Dominguez could face elbow surgery

Phillies' bullpen problems mount as Seranthony Dominguez could face elbow surgery

The Phillies reported back to work on Friday and were greeted by some bad news.

Reliever Seranthony Dominguez’ elbow injury is more serious than initially thought.

Depending on what a second medical opinion finds, he could be out for the remainder of the season and part of next.

General manager Matt Klentak disclosed that Dominguez had “damage” to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Yes, that’s the bad one, the one that if damaged significantly enough requires reconstructive (Tommy John) surgery and more than a year of rehab time.

“Based on the second opinion, we'll come up with a treatment plan and one of the options may be Tommy John surgery, we just don't know,” Klentak said.

It was not immediately known who would provide the second opinion or when it would come.

Dominguez was firing 98-mph fastballs in San Diego on Tuesday night. The next day, he threw 14 pitches and walked off the mound with pain in his elbow. He had an MRI back in Philadelphia on Thursday and the results were distressing.

“Ser’s bummed. We’re bummed,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “It’s a challenging time.”

The Phillies’ bullpen has been hit extremely hard by injuries. Dominguez becomes the seventh reliever currently on the injured list,  joining Tommy Hunter, Adam Morgan, Pat Neshek, David Robertson, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos. Arano is likely out for the season. Hunter and Ramos could be back by the end of the month. Morgan is just starting to throw.

What gives with all of these injuries?

“We're definitely digging into it,” Klentak said. “I wish I had a good answer for you or a direct answer.

“A couple of weeks ago when we were in Chicago, our manager was criticized for being too conservative with the bullpen. I do think, in large part, Kap often operates to try to protect the guys and not to overuse them and overwork them to the point of, in the Chicago series, it became a big topic of conversation. 

"As I look back at the last year and a half of our season and looking at the bullpen, it's hard to say that we've overworked anybody or abused anybody. Kap's been really careful about back-to-backs and not dry-humping guys in the bullpen. Their innings totals and their appearance totals are not that crazy at all, especially relative to the rest of the league. That's the first place you look just to see, is there something we could do differently? We don't see it there. 

“The next place you look is in the training room and these work habits and offseason programs and things like that. We've not been able to identify anything that is markedly different or worse than what we've done in prior years.”

Klentak shifted gears as he continued to talk about a possible cause for the epidemic of injuries that has hit the bullpen.

“This is not a factual assessment, more my own observation,” he said. “As the power in the game continues to escalate, and by power I mean hitters but also what the pitchers need to do to combat the power at the plate, I think it stands to reason that is putting more stress on players’ arms. They’re throwing harder, they’re throwing more breaking balls – this is not the Phillies in particular, but more kind of a league-wide trend — and it’s possible that that is contributing to more injuries.

“We also have to leave open the possibility that it’s some combination of those things, and also maybe a bunch of (stuff) happened to us at once and it was bad luck. I’m not saying that it is bad luck, but it’s certainly possible.

“I can assure you and I can assure Phillies fans that we’re looking into it and if there’s anything we can do to adjust that we will do that. But right now we have not found the exact reason.”

Klentak said the injury to Dominguez was another opportunity for members of the current bullpen to “step up.” Vince Velasquez could find himself pitching in the eighth inning. In the coming weeks, the Phils will get some of their wounded back. And though he would not admit it, Klentak will surely look for bullpen upgrades outside the organization.

One such potential upgrade — All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel — signed with the Cubs the day Dominguez injured his elbow.

The Phillies had some interest in Kimbrel, but not at the three years, $43 million he got from the Cubs.

Would the Phillies have been more aggressive trying to get Kimbrel if Dominguez’ injury had occurred, say, a week earlier?

“Probably not,” Klentak said. “I don't know. We obviously didn't find out (the severity of Dominguez’ injury) until a little while ago.

“I'm not supposed to talk about other teams' players so I'll try to make this more broad than talking about that player. In the last couple years, we've signed several veteran relievers to two-year deals, but multi-year deals nonetheless. Each of them has spent time on the IL. There have been reasons why we signed those guys to try to bolster the bullpen and I'm not saying we'd never do it again, but I do think we need to be mindful of the realities of relief pitcher health, especially multi-year commitments to veteran guys. The track record is not great.”

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Phillies embarrassed by Dodgers and have 2 of the ugliest innings you'll ever see

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Phillies embarrassed by Dodgers and have 2 of the ugliest innings you'll ever see

BOX SCORE

What a completely humiliating loss for the Phillies.

It wasn't just that they were blown out, 16-2, by the visiting Dodgers. It was the way it unfolded and the way it sounded.

The Dodgers, with so many of their fans chanting and cheering throughout the night, scored six runs in the Phillies' ugliest inning of the season, the top of the fourth Monday. 

They went single, RBI double, groundout, RBI single, walk, RBI single, safety squeeze RBI single, sacrifice, RBI single, double steal of 2nd and home.

The Dodgers' catcher, Austin Barnes, laid down the successful squeeze. Cesar Hernandez was shifted all the way toward the second base bag and had no chance to scamper to first in time to receive the throw from Zach Eflin. A few batters later, it was again the catcher Barnes who stole home.

And that wasn't even the worst look of the inning. When Eflin struck out Alex Verdugo for the third out, the Phillies were so out of it that the entire infield appeared to not know it was the third out. Realmuto trickled the ball back to the pitcher, Eflin and his fielders stood around, and then after a few seconds, all realized in unison the inning was over and walked toward the dugout. 

The boos just rained down.

You can't blame Phillies fans at this point. They've been watching bad baseball for six weeks. An offense that can't consistently pick up the big hit, a rotation that can't get six innings deep nearly enough, a bullpen that can't protect leads.

It all bubbled to the surface Monday in an ugly loss, the kind of loss one would hope leads to a team meeting or a tough conversation or something that shows these coaches and players are taking the mounting losses personally.

And it got even worse

The Dodgers later added four homers, two by Cody Bellinger. Bellinger had as many home runs at CBP Monday as Bryce Harper has in his last 17 home games.

And still, it got worse. In the eighth inning, Yacksel Rios was ejected for hitting Justin Turner after Verdugo's homer, Edgar Garcia couldn't get a third out, the Dodgers scored five more runs and the Phillies were forced to insert Roman Quinn to pitch ... with the bases loaded. Quinn did get the inning-ending flyout before allowing two more runs in the ninth.

The Phillies are 48-46. Tomorrow night is Vince Velasquez against Walker Buehler.

Missed opportunities

The Phillies loaded the bases in the first and third innings against Clayton Kershaw and stranded all six runners. Jay Bruce was the main culprit, flying out to end the first and striking out on three pitches with one out and the sacks full in the third.

The Phillies reached base twice via error against Kershaw in the third inning. When you're facing a Hall of Fame pitcher, you have to cash in when you get the chance. The Phillies couldn't. You almost knew before the Dodgers even crossed the plate that this would be costly.

Up next

The Phillies again miss NL All-Star starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, but that just means they get the rest of the Dodgers' strong rotation.

Tuesday night at 7:05 — Vince Velasquez (2-5, 4.63) vs. Walker Buehler (8-1, 3.46)

Wednesday night at 7:05 — Nick Pivetta (4-4, 5.81) vs. Kenta Maeda (7-6, 3.82)

Thursday afternoon at 12:35 — Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.63) vs. Ross Stripling (4-3, 3.65)

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Phillies PhanaVision posted a stat that really did not age well

Phillies PhanaVision posted a stat that really did not age well

Monday night at Citizens Bank Park was not only a low point for the Phillies, but also a low point for whoever decided to highlight this statistic on PhanaVision for NL MVP candidate Cody Bellinger.

Well, that certainly didn’t age well.

Not only did Bellinger grab his first RBI of the season against the Phillies tonight, he slugged a pair of home runs to give him 33 on the season, the most in the Majors.

Sometimes it’s not good to poke the bear, because you might wake it up.

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