Approaching the halfway point of the season, it’s very evident Phillies skipper Gabe Kapler is unlike anyone ever seen before in Philadelphia, especially when it comes bullpen use.
Since the Phillies own a winning record heading to the 72nd game, let’s focus on past Phillies teams that accomplished playoff success.
The 1980 World Champion Phils featured Tug McGraw in closing situations. The 1983 National League Champs used Al Holland. Mitch Williams shut the door 43 times in 1993. Brad Lidge was perfect in 2008, before struggling immensely in 2009, which you can argue played a factor in the Phils losing at least one of the Fall Classic games to the Yankees.
Currently, Kapler does things differently, deploying his most effective reliever, Seranthony Dominguez, in all sorts of situations.
It’s Bullpen Twister. Kapler might as well roll out the famous, large board place mat, take a spin, and navigate pitchers to the specific dots to see if they’re flexible enough to handle his managing style without crumbling to the ground.
Dominguez is sometimes being used in the seventh, occasionally versus the bottom of lineup. It could be a multiple inning appearance, which may not include the ninth. There was one recent instance where he entered the ninth go get out a teammates jam.
There isn’t a set role. It could be at any point in the game. Kapler and his staff want the fireball throwing right handed pitcher in the most high leverage situations. Meantime, certain victories are a little too close for comfort, and some losses maybe were avoidable is Dominguez was used like a traditional closer.
May 28th at the Dodgers, Kapler used Dominguez in the sixth to get out of a Vince Velasquez jam. Luis Garcia and Adam Morgan imploded in the eighth, with the help of poor defense. June 6th at the Cubs, Kapler tried to get a six out save from the young 23-year-old Dominguez, but pulled him in the ninth after letting a couple base runners on. Morgan gave up a walk off grand slam. June 10th against the Brewers, Dominguez threw 41 pitches in the seventh and eighth innings, before Garcia allowing a couple runners to be in scoring position clinging to a one run lead in the ninth. Phillies held on. June 16th at Milwaukee, Dominguez faced the bottom of the Brewers lineup in the eighth, before unreliable Hector Neris gave a rare, dominant performance in the ninth. June 17th at the Brewers, Dominguez tossed 35 pitches between the seventh and eighth, again, starting with the bottom of Milwaukee’s order. June 18th against the Cardinals Dominguez wasn’t available in a bullpen implosion which the Phils overcame by rallying in extras. June 19th versus St. Louis, Dominguez lost the game in the ninth.
It’s safe to say the start of the talented rookie’s career is quite unique.
Kapler remains true to his form, though. His philosophy isn’t changing despite several questions. He maintains a positive angle for relievers who do struggle when Dominguez isn’t in the game when many think he should be. Whether the Phillies are on the wrong end of a laugher, survive a near collapse or cruise to victory, you’re going to get the same Gabe.
The Phils 42-year-old rookie skipper, who makes you feel incredibly out of shape, walks with confidence in clock work fashion. His posture is always outstanding. He features a mixture of smiling and intensity. He’s not your “Average Joe.”
Some may find it infectious. Others may find it annoying, especially if Kapler’s complementary remarks don’t correlate with what the fans are seeing with their own eyes. But, it doesn’t appear it’s going to change. It’s as much admirable as it’s debatable.
This will continue driving many Philadelphia fans bonkers, but if the Phils remain in the hunt, and sneak their way into a postseason game this year, it will be near impossible not to credit Kapler’s unique style for leading this team to at least game number 163.
In fairness, it says something that a stretch of losing seven out of eight didn’t bury this team. They bounced back, and they did so with Kapler standing tall on the dugout steps.
The Eagles made Chip Kelly look bad again, and rightfully so
The best story to come out of the Eagles’ ring ceremony was that of former employee Carol Cullen, who was the Eagles’ Executive Assistant to the Head Coach for decades, dating back to the Marion Campbell era.
Cullen, according to ESPN’s Tim McManus, was surprisingly let go by Kelly heading to his second season because he felt there was no need for the position.
What Kelly failed to realize during his ill fated tenure was the Eagles are about family.
The Birds did good by Cullen, invited her to the private ceremony and gave her a ring.
That’s why they’re champions without Kelly, who flamed our quicker than a candle in the NFL.
Oh, and there’s this:
— Nick Piccone (@nickpiccone) June 20, 2018
Stay away from Kawhi, at all costs
Kawhi Leonard reportedly wants out of San Antonio, where all they do is win with legendary head coach Gregg Popovich. He wants to be traded to the Lakers, where they haven’t won lately, and feature LaVar Ball roaming around cheering for his son, Lonzo.
Leonard played only nine games last year, an odd saga for someone who was Finals MVP.
He may not go bowling dance, but this smells like Andrew Bynum 2.0. Would you want the Sixers medical staff to deal with that?
Before I forget…
• Phil Michelson drove most golf enthusiasts crazy Saturday when he hit a moving ball, picking up a two-stroke penalty. Some felt that warranted a disqualification or withdrawal, even though “Lefty” was no where in contention. I found it the most entertaining part of the tournament. My response to Mickelson’s “antics” is… so what?
• Brewers relief pitcher Adrian Houser vomited not only once, but twice against the Phillies. Kapler’s lineup is clearly finding new, progressive ways to beat pitchers. #BeBold.
• Joel Embiid told TMZ that all girls should “Taste The Process.” What in the world could he possibly mean?
• It appears people not only need to beware of the Phillie Phanatic knocking into them with his big belly or giant schnoz, but also his toys that usually bring joy instead of trips to the emergency room. Phillies fan Kathy McVay was the recipient of an unfortunate injury earlier this week, when the Phanatic’s hot dog gun fired one of those little buggers right into her face, leading to an apology by the Phillies. These hot dogs are no joke as they’re wrapped in duct tape. I’m not surprised McVay needed to go to the hospital. She developed a small hematoma in her eye. Fortunately, she appears to be in solid spirits, as well as a good sport about the situation. I think the next time McVay sees the Phanatic, the fury green fella should make it up to her with a nice, long smooch right on the spot of the significant boo-boo. Get well, Kathy.