Marlins right-hander David Phelps entered Monday’s loss to the Nationals with a lead to protect, but by the time he exited, the lead was gone.
Phelps struggled in his first outing of the regular season and remained in the game after allowing a home run to Bryce Harper. After the game, Phelps told reporters manager Don Mattingly said if he could have Phelps pitch for multiple innings, he was going to do it.
But that plan didn’t work very well.
Miami hoped to build what it deemed a “super bullpen” and seemingly did so, but Monday, we learned the fairly obvious: It isn’t going to be perfect.
Sure, Mattingly had other arms to turn to in that instance, and it’s notable he didn’t turn to other relievers earlier with Tuesday’s off day. Still, the bullpen will have plenty of other opportunities.
Miami’s season opener made clear what could go wrong when starters are unable to pitch into the six or seventh innings of games. There is such significant pressure on the relievers that when one struggles, the severity of the situation could get magnified.
It would be premature to overreact after Opening Day, but it’s clear the “super bullpen” the Marlins have put together will take time to become consistent. And while that’s OK, it cost Miami the game Monday, when Edinson Volquez lasted just five innings.