Another Failed Phillies Season Shows Who’s At Fault

It’s unfathomable the Phillies won’t make the postseason this year.

It’s unfathomable because the Phillies are laden with talent. It’s unfathomable because the Phillies hired manager Joe Girardi who knows how to push a team into October. It’s unfathomable because the Phillies have a massive budget that’s purchased a slew of expensive players.

But, most of all, it’s unfathomable because 16 out 30 teams — more than half the dang league! — will reach the 2020 postseason after MLB expanded the playoffs for a surreal pandemic year that saw a 60-game sprint of a regular season.

No matter the year — no matter the schedule length — no matter the manager — the Phillies keep failing. After a lifeless 5-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday, the Phils finished off their ninth consecutive non-winning season. They have the longest postseason drought in the National League and second-longest in baseball, dating back to 2011.

It’s not just failure. It’s the way the Phillies fail — by fading down the stretch — again and again.

For the third consecutive season, the Phillies have collapsed late in the season after looking destined for the playoffs. The 2018 and ‘19 collapses cost manager Gabe Kapler his job. So the team nabbed Girardi to prevent another late-season crumble — and a crumble is exactly what happened, as the Phillies lost 7 out of their final 8 games.

So what did Philly learn? It wasn’t Kapler’s fault after all.

It’s not Girardi’s fault either.

It’s the architect of the team who can be blamed. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak assembled a historically disastrous bullpen — one that had an ERA over 7 and 14 blown saves.

Klentak attempted to patch and plug the ‘pen in August, trading for four relievers — Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree, David Phelps and David Hale — who combined for a mind-boggling 8.56 ERA.

Heading into the season, Klentak knew the bullpen had massive flaws, including an anxiety-inducing closer, Hector Neris, who probably shouldn’t be closing on a team that thinks of itself as a contender

But Klentak hoped against what he should know — that a bad bullpen in The Age of Bullpenning equals a bad baseball team. And that’s what the Phillies were, finishing 4 games under .500, looking up at a Marlins team, which reached the postseason after losing 105 games last year.

The casualty of another non-winning year may be Klentak, who was hired as GM five years ago and has yet to build a winner in Philly.

Girardi addressed Klentak’s future with the team after Sunday’s loss. “I love working with Matt,” Girardi said. “And I look forward to working with him next year and trying to get this thing running next year.”

But getting this thing running could be without Klentak, who built a bullpen that may have caused his demise.

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