The Phillies can only run from their porous bullpen for so long.
Because eventually, leaky relief will rear its ugly head and dash any hopes the club had at rekindling the 2007-11 magic.
History shows that a bad bullpen typically means no postseason.
After the Phils' relief corps blew its sixth game — tied for second-most in baseball this season — in a disheartening 5-3 loss to the Nationals on Friday, the team’s bullpen ERA spiked to an NL-worst 5.07.
If the trend continues, the chances of Ryne Sandberg’s crew making the playoffs — or even contending — are faint.
From 1995 — the first complete season when both the NL and AL were divided into three divisions with four teams from each league qualifying for the postseason — to 2013, only seven clubs out of 78 total National League playoff-qualifying teams (5.5 percent) have made the postseason with a bullpen ERA ranked in the bottom five of the NL.
Of those seven teams, only one made it past the NLDS (Cardinals – 2000) before losing in the NLCS.
The seven teams and respective bullpen marks:
• Rockies (2009, 92-70) won wild card with fourth-worst NL ERA (4.53)
• Phillies (2007, 89-73) won NL East with fourth-worst NL ERA (4.50)
• Braves (2005, 90-72) won NL East with fifth-worst NL ERA (4.74)
• Diamondbacks (2002, 98-64) won NL West with third-worst NL ERA (4.60)
• Cardinals (2000, 95-67) won NL Central with fifth-worst NL ERA (4.84)
• Cubs (1998, 90-73) won wild card with fourth-worst NL ERA (4.40)
• Giants (1997, 90-72) won NL West with fourth-worst NL ERA (4.75)
• Rockies (1995, 77-67) won wild card with second-worst NL ERA (4.64)
This season, the Marlins own the NL’s fifth-worst bullpen with an ERA of 3.80 — substantially better than the Phils.
Yes, it is early, but Phillies relievers have shown no signs of patching up gaping holes. The bats could mash and the starters could dominate, but until the bullpen proves it can do its job, the Phils are as far from the postseason as anybody.