Craig Kimbrel, a former All-Star, found himself on the wrong end of two consecutive losses, casting doubt on the Phillies’ bullpen in a crucial playoff series. In Game 3 of the NLCS, Kimbrel’s erratic performance led to a walk-off single. The following game, he surrendered three runs in the eighth, marking the first playoff save blown in his career. A pinch-hitter, Alek Thomas, delivered a game-tying two-run shot.
The Phillies were on the verge of taking a commanding series lead but are now locked in a tie. Their bullpen faces limitations due to the heavy use of key pitchers, including Kimbrel and Orion Kerkering, on back-to-back days. The upcoming game will test their remaining resources.
J.T. Realmuto, the Phillies’ catcher, attributed the bullpen’s recent struggles to falling behind in counts and allowing baserunners. The loud crowd and charged atmosphere played a role in pressuring the pitchers.
Questions loom about who will close out games for the Phillies in the remainder of the postseason. Jose Alvarado, the fireman in high-leverage situations, cannot be reserved solely for the ninth inning. While Kimbrel expressed his determination to bounce back, the team seeks solutions to regain their bullpen’s former strength.
Game 5 rests on Zack Wheeler’s shoulders, a pitcher capable of delivering top-tier performances. The Phillies will rely on him to secure a pivotal win.
“For me, every game in the postseason is a must-win,” Realmuto emphasized. “We wouldn’t want anyone else on the mound tomorrow. Wheels is our guy.”