Joe Girardi provides Phillies bullpen update at spring training start

Joe Girardi
Phillies manager Joe Girardi. (Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

New Phillies manager Joe Girardi is expecting a much different-looking Phillies team in 2020 despite management not making a ton of changes.

Philadelphia’s skipper addressed the media on Tuesday morning in Clearwater, FL as spring training is about to get underway where he summarized the offseason that was and all that is expected to be in 2020.

“This is a time of preparation,” Girardi said. “It’s a time of competition, too. But the competition does not start tomorrow. It’s a chance for players to get in shape and prepare to compete.”

General manager Matt Klentak went quiet after a frantic start to the Winter Meetings. He acquired starting pitcher Zack Wheeler and shortstop Didi Gregorius within days of each other but did nothing of note after that despite needs around the roster, especially in the bullpen.

Phillies relievers — who were decimated by injuries — had the 16th-ranked ERA in baseball while allowing the eighth-most home runs and the seventh-worst batting average against.

It was a makeshift group in the later innings considering Seranthony Dominguez, Adam Morgan, David Robinson, Tommy Hunter, and Pat Neshek all spent considerable time on the injured list last season.

In 2020, Girardi is expecting big things from the returning Dominguez and Morgan.

“For me, we’ve added some really good players and I think we’re going to have additions just because of health, guys coming back,” Girardi said. “You have a guy like Seranthony Dominguez that can stay healthy for the whole year. That’s a huge addition, you’re talking about a guy who was a closer and an eighth-inning guy that wasn’t there for a good portion of the season.”

Dominguez went down with an elbow injury in June that held him out for the rest of a 2019 season that saw him slump off a rookie campaign in which he posted a 2.95 ERA with 16 saves and 74 strikeouts in 58 innings of work.

Morgan pitched just 29.2 innings in 2019, posting a 3.94 ERA. He didn’t give up a run in 11-straight outings before a flexor strain became too much to handle in a Jul. 31 outing against the San Francisco Giants.

“Adam Morgan, that’s a huge addition,” Girardi added.

Just don’t expect to see much of them early on in Clearwater.

“We’ll take it slow with them in spring training, too,” Girardi said. “All the reports I’ve gotten over the last two weeks, they’ve been great. With that, I’m happy. But again, spring training is really for starters. They’re the ones who need the six-and-a-half weeks.”

As for Robertson, he lasted just seven games in his first year with the Phillies before injuring his elbow in April, which led to Tommy John surgery in August.

While initial reports stated the former Yankee will miss the entire 2020 season, Girardi suggested otherwise.

“If we get David Robertson back for the second half of the season, that’s a deadline trade that can be a difference-maker,” Girardi said. “He’s doing great if you ask him and our training staff, he’s doing fabulous. But he’s driving them nuts because he wants to get on the mound but he’s not at that point.”

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