The Philadelphia Phillies are 9-2 since firing Joe Girardi two weeks ago, though the bullpen remains far from reliable. On Wednesday, interim manager Rob Thomson said veteran righty Corey Knebel has been removed from the closer’s role following Tuesday night’s meltdown against the Marlins, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia. The Phillies will go closer by committee for now.
Philadelphia’s bullpen blew a four-run lead in the seventh and a one-run lead in the ninth en route to a 11-9 loss to the Miami Marlins on Tuesday (box score). Knebel, who has been dealing with a nagging shoulder issue, did not retire any of the four batters he faced in the ninth inning, and threw only four of his 16 pitches for strikes. He was charged with three unearned runs and took the loss.
“(My) body felt good today. My arm felt good. I just couldn’t throw strikes,” Knebel told MLB.com after the game. “I went and looked at it. I thought everything mechanical-wise looked good. It just didn’t go over the plate. I’m frustrated. Of course, you’d like to go out there and win that game. Have a clean one. But it doesn’t always work out like that. So that’s on me. I didn’t throw a strike. I just have to throw strikes. That’s it.”
Signed to a one-year deal worth $10 million over the winter, the 30-year-old Knebel has a 3.24 ERA and is 11 for 15 in save chances, though he’s walked 13 batters and struck out only nine in his last 13 games and 11 2/3 innings. The Phillies have two veterans with closing experience in the bullpen — Jeurys Familia and Brad Hand — though neither has been lock down this season.
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Philadelphia’s best reliever has been Seranthony Domínguez and it’s not particularly close either, though he did allow the game-tying home run in the seventh inning Tuesday. Domínguez owns a 1.88 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with 32 strikeouts in 24 innings. This is his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, and the club may not want to work him too hard so soon after returning.
The 9-2 post-Girardi run has moved the Phillies to within 4 1/2 games of the third and final NL wild card spot. They’re chasing the red-hot Atlanta Braves, winners of 13 straight, though there’s 100 games to play and the Braves and Phillies still have 15 head-to-head games remaining. Plenty of time to make up ground, not that it will be easy.