Kincade & Salciunas: Weekdays 6am – 10am

Kincade & Salciunas: Weekdays 6am – 10am

Kincade & Salciunas: Weekdays 6am – 10am

The Philadelphia Phillies enter the 2024 MLB season loaded with talent. The back end of the bullpen looks like a key strength for a World Series contender, as Phillies relievers Jose Alvarado, Seranthony Dominguez, and Gregory Soto will lead the way.

Will the loaded pool of talent give Rob Thomson the options to maneuver his way through a tight postseason when a few outs in the late innings can mean the difference between a Wild Card Series exit and a parade down Broad Street?

Phillies in 2024

The Phillies have advanced to the NLCS in consecutive seasons. Red October has taken baseball by storm in consecutive postseasons, but the World Series trophy hasn’t returned to Philadelphia. Thomson earned himself the confidence of the fan base after a remarkable turnaround after taking his first job as an MLB manager in 2022.

The romanticization of the miracle ride to the World Series in 2022 is over, however. Thomson now faces the pressure of an intense fan base demanding success after a collapse in the NLCS in 2023. The intensity will heighten at Citizens Bank Park this summer.

Phillies Bullpen in 2024

The Phillies haven’t designated a go-to closer in recent seasons. Craig Kimbrel looked like he might secure the role in 2023. He faded down the stretch and walked in free agency this offseason, however.

Jeff Hoffman spoke on 97.5 The Fanatic about a successful dynamic that’s becoming more and more common in the modern MLB era.

“We have a lot of talent, whether it’s the young kid Orion (Kerkering) or Alvy (Jose Alvarado), or Ser (Seranthony Dominguez) or (Gregory) Soto, we have so many guys with closing experience, so many guys with experience pitching at the back end. I think that’s going to be a really, really big strength for us not having to necessarily dictate ‘This guy is our 9th inning guy. This guy is our 8th inning guy.’ I think we have so many different weapons that we can use in those situations.” –Jeff Hoffman

How will the roster shake out on Opening Day? Will Alvarado seize the spot as the go-to guy? Will Dominguez and Soto bounce back? Can Hoffman dominate like he did in 2023?


  • Left-Handed Relivers

  • Jose Alvarado

    Philadelphia fans will talk forever about letting Ryne Sandber or Ferguson Jenkins get away too soon. They should celebrate that the Phillies stole Jose Alvarado away from the Tampa Bay Rays.

    The Venezuelan fireballer has improved drastically since a trade before the 2021 season. He’s developed into a force at the back end of the bullpen.

    Alvarado has developed a power sinker that reaches three digits on the radar gun frequently. His absence in the middle of the 2023 season told you even more about his presence.

    Rob Thomson overworked Gregory Soto as the primary left-handed reliever. The Phillies quickly realized how much they needed Alvarado.

    Alvarado’s strikeouts per nine (SO/9) jumped to 14.3 in 2022 and 13.9 in 2022. He allowed only one earned run in eight postseason appearances in 2023 with holds in five of Philadelphia’s first six victories.

    Thomson will trust the powerful lefty in high-leverage spots in 2024 even if the Phillies skipper doesn’t want to designate one closer.

    Jose Alvarado, Philadelphia Phillies Bullpen

  • Gregory Soto

    Soto finished his first season in Philadelphia with an ERA over a full run higher than the combined numbers that earned him All-Star selections the previous two seasons.

    His appearances and innings pitched in 2023 comparably mirrored his numbers with the Detroit Tigers in 2021 and 2022. However, the Dominican fireballer didn’t settle into a consistent role. Midseason injuries to Alvarado and Dominguez forced Thomson to use Soto more than he ideally would’ve liked.

    “There’s reasoning for him (Soto) not looking good last year. I am a firm believe that he was beat up.” -Ricky Bottalico

    Soto made only five postseason appearances. Six of the nine outs he recorded came during the 9th inning of games already well out of reach.

    MLB relief pitchers experience ebbs and flows as much as any other position in sports. Although Soto posted underwhelming numbers in 2023, he still has the arm to return to form as a key piece at the back end of the bullpen.

    He has swing-and-miss potential from the mound. His strikeout to walk ratio (SO/W) even jumped from 1.76 in 2022 to 2.95 in 2023, indicating better command as a more experienced reliever and the ability to maintain his strikeout pitches.

    The Phillies acquired significantly higher upside by sending Matt Vierling and Nick Maton to Detroit for Soto. They saw flashes of it in 2023, but Soto left some meat on the bone. He’ll look to ramp to another level in 2024.

    Gregory Soto, Philadelphia Phillies Bullpen

  • Matt Strahm

    Strahm blossomed with one of his best major league seasons in 2023. He did a serviceable job in six early-season starts before the rotation came together.

    After Ranger Suarez returned, he provided Thomson with an option for multiple innings in relief. The organization values his role, although he likely won’t challenge Alvarado and Soto as the primary left-handed options out of the bullpen.

    Look for Strahm to earn a roster spot out of Spring Training. He could increase his value with spot starts if the Phillies face injuries or heavy usage in double headers and similar situations.

    “Being in baseball, you know fake hoo-rah versus real hoo-rah, and you could see it with the ’22 team that those guys were living on every at-bat whether they were in the dugout or in the box themselves. It’s just a unique chemistry that we have… It’s an awesome clubhouse. Dave’s done an unbelievable job assembling this team, and there’s no bad apples in there.” –Matt Strahm on 97.5 The Fanatic

    Matt Strahm, Philadelphia Phillies Bullpen

  • Right-Handed Relivers

  • Seranthony Dominguez

    Dominguez returned from Tommy John surgery with a vengeance in 2022. The homegrown product became the primary righty during the miracle run to the World Series. His numbers dipped drastically in 2023.

    • 2022: 3.00 ERA, 9 saves, 1.14 WHIP, 10.8 SO/9
    • 2023: 3.78 ERA, 2 saves, 1.40 WHIP, 8.6 SO/9

    The inevitable ebbs and flows of MLB relievers could benefit Dominguez, like his countryman Soto, in 2024. Opposing hitters batted .291 off him on balls in play in 2023 after just a .269 average in 2022. The stat tends to even out year-to-year as fortune changes.

    Look for a talented reliever to return with motivation after slipping out of favor by the end of 2023. He allowed only one (unearned) run in six postseason appearances, and he’s one of the best options Thomson has in the late innings this season.

    Seranthony Dominguez, Philadelphia Phillies Bullpen

  • Jeff Hoffman

    If the Phillies expect natural rebound seasons from Dominguez and Soto in 2024, they must also consider that Jeff Hoffman drastically exceeded his career averages in 2023. He entered the season with a 1.59 career WHIP in 134 MLB games. He posted a 0.92 WHIP in 54 games in red pinstripes.

    Does a fantastic statistical improvement discredit him moving forward? No. He certainly earned himself a spot in the bullpen in 2024. However, opposing batters hit .232 off him on balls in play last season. The MLB average has landed between .290 and .300 in six straight seasons. Hoffman will have to ramp it up to continue his resurgence and fight the possibility of natural regression.

    He spoke about the clubhouse comradery and the hunger to recreate the magic of two deep runs into Red October. 


    The Phillies brought the journeyman righty back on a one-year deal worth $2.2 million. They’ll expect him to play an important middle relief role. He has the right attitude and full control in proving last season’s dominance was no fluke.

    Jeff Hoffman, Philadelphia Phillies Bullpen

  • Orion Kerkering

    Kerkering emerged as the secret weapon out of the pen in the postseason, but the (soon to be) 23-year-old might not begin 2024 on the active roster. He battled flu symptoms through Spring Training, however. Rob Thomson is concerned about Kerkering’s workload early in the season.

    When he works back to 100%, the Phillies will gain a raw reliever with a tremendously high ceiling. Kerkering threw scoreless innings in his first four postseason appearances, capped off with a clean ninth inning of a triumphant Game 2 victory in the NLCS. He came back to Earth with shake outings in two of his final three appearances (at the same time as the rest of the team).

    The Phillies have recognized the electric stuff of their young righty. They’ll push to make him part of the long-term foundation at the back end of the bullpen.

    Orion Kerkering, Philadelphia Phillies Bullpen

  • Yunior Marte

    The numbers didn’t look impressive. Yunior Marte posted a 5.03 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP in 40 relief appearances. However, six earned runs in his first two relief appearances inflated those overall numbers. He also flashed excellent stuff with a fastball in the mid-to-high 90s to push the Phillies to prolong his stay with the big club.

    Time is up for a player that didn’t make his major league debut until age 27. It’s now or never for that talent to produce better results.

    Yunior Marte, Philadelphia Phillies Bullpen

  • Connor Brogdon

    Thomson and Dombrowski have spoken optimistically about the chances of Connor Brogdon bouncing back at the major league level in 2024. The 28-year-old has reached a crossroad in his career.

    The long-armed righty once drew comparisons to former bullpen stalwart Ryan Madson. He worked his way into a key postseason role in 2022 with only two earned runs allowed in seven appearances on the way to a National League pennant.

    However, he allowed six earned runs in 3⅓ innings in a midseason slump in 2023 that pushed his demotion to AAA for the remainder of the season. Brogdon lost his spot in the Phillies bullpen, but he has a chance to earn it back on merit.

    Major league bullpens don’t stick with the same seven or eight arms for 162 games. He might not suit up on Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park, but don’t count out Brogdon just yet.

    Connor Brogdon, Philadelphia Phillies Bullpen

  • Luis Ortiz

    The Phillies could give Luis Ortiz a shot on the big league roster to begin 2024, especially if Orion Kerkering misses the beginning of the season. Ortiz pitched short stints for the Orioles and the Giants before making a career high 14 appearances with the Phillies last season. 

    The 28-year-old is a former 1st-round pick of the Texas Rangers. He’ll likely make a few trips back and forth from Lehigh Valley to Philadelphia in 2024.

    Luis Ortiz, Philadelphia Phillies

  • Depth Bullpen/Starting Pitchers

    Injuries, poor performance, or overall wear and tear can force managers to use close to 10 starting pitchers over 162 games. The Phillies have depth behind their five-man rotation, and a lot of these arms will look for bullpen innings as they wait for their chance.

    Rob Thomson mentioned Kolby Allerd, Spencer Turnbull, Nick Nelson, and David Buchanon on the first day of Spring Training. Dylan Covey will also return from injury, possibly by Opening Day on March 28.

    Nick Nelson, Philadelphia Phillies

  • 97.5 The Fanatic

    Watch Kincade & Salciunas on the 97.5 The Fanatic YouTube page for discussion about the latest breaking sports news in Philadelphia.



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