On the subject of Philadelphia Phillies announcers, sometimes they stumble on saying something close to brilliant without even knowing it. Such was the case for television play-by-play guy Tom McCarthy on Friday night.
Starting pitcher Cliff Lee, after several solid innings, gave way to the Phillies’ bullpen with a 3-2 lead. The Phillies yielded three runs after that, including a three-run eighth inning that included five-straight hits. The Phillies eventually lost to the Washington Nationals, 5-3, and after that, McCarthy blurted on live TV: “It was a damaging inning for the Phillies’ bullpen.”
Err, McCarthy was being diplomatic. He could have said it was a “typical” inning for the Phillies’ bullpen and he would have been even more right.
The bullpen has been so bad for the Phillies that there needs to be a different approach. Lee exited after a 3-2 lead against the Nationals. Against the Colorado Rockies earlier this season, Kyle Kendrick exited after a 3-1 lead and, like Lee, ended up losing the game.
Here’s a somewhat radical remedy: Why not keep the starters in the game and not even give the bullpen a chance to implode? It’s just a thought, because both Kendrick in his start and Lee in his were sailing along without a problem; why mess with success? It worked in the old days for starters like Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal and Bob Gibson.
If Kendrick and Lee and any other starter who is doing the job gets into trouble, then that is the time to relieve them, not before. This is some old-school baseball and against the current book, but it is just the kind of out-of-the-box solution the Phillies need right now.