Originally posted on Philly Sports World  |  Last updated 5/10/12

The Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon to a very rich contract in the offseason, but have not been able to proerly use their new closer because the rest of the bullpen has been ineffective.

The Philadelphia Phillies are 14-18 through the first 32 games of this season and they look more like the Phillies of the late ’90s than the team that has been baseball’s best the past couple of years.

Another bullpen implosion cost the Phillies a game last night, but more importantly allowed the New York Mets to sweep the Phillies in Philly for the the first time since 2006.

The Phillies have starting pitching. Cliff Lee was sharp in 6 innings that were limited by pitch count due to his oblique injury. He gave up 2 runs on 5 hits and struck out 6. Lee was not the issue. He left the game officially with a 4-2 lead.

Then the fun began.

Kyle Kendrick, who had been starting in Lee’s place came in for the 7th. Kendrick allowed 6 of the 9 batters he face to reach base, and 5 of them scored. Jose Contreras didn’t fare much better as he gave up two more runs, one earned. Brian Sanches finished it off for the Phillies giving up another run on a home run.

The Phillies bullpen is the worst in baseball. A few weeks ago there were concerns over the offense being able to produce runs. Now the focus has got to be the ineffective bullpen. Jonathan Papelbon coughed up a 3-run home run in the first game of the series with the score tied and Chad Qualls was unable to limit damage for Joe Blanton when he allowed inherited runners to score in game 2 of the series.

The star closer, whom the Phillies spent $50 million on has converted all 9 of his save opportunities. The problem has been trying to get him consistent work in save situations when the rest of the bullpen is as leaky as the Titanic after it hit the iceberg.

In an ironic twist of fate, the Phillies have actually been hitting the ball and scoring runs. Maybe not with the proficiency that they used to, but enough to win games. When you score 13 runs and lose a game, something is as my father used to say, “bad wrong.”

The Phillies lavished Papelbon with that huge contract, but can’t even use him properly. They cheaped out the rest of the way on the bullpen, and now it’s proving to be fatal. Rather than bolstering this aging lineup with another bat at the trade deadline, Ruben Amaro Jr. may have to acquire a bullpen arm that can actually pitch. Unless of course, he can get all of his starters to throw 8 innings.

This is getting ugly, friends… And there is not one thing that Ryan Howard and Chase Utley can do about this whopper of a problem.

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