Brandon Kintzler and changing the mentality of a broken bullpen
Spring Training is underway in Clearwater, Florida for the Philadelphia Phillies. After an offseason that started off so poorly, the Phillies have been able to retool their ball club that now have fans and media members alike much more optimistic about the team’s chances to be playoff contenders heading into the 2021 season.
JT Realmuto and Didi Gregorius were re-signed. Veteran pitching arms were brought in to create competition in the back-half of the starting rotation. The historically bad bullpen from last year has been retooled with low-risk, high-reward bullpen arms. Brad Miller is back in a Phillies uniform and there’s hope that Rhys Hoskins will start the season healthy and that there will be a return of “Jetpax SZN” once again.
The main question about this Phillies team still remains. Have the Phillies done enough to become contenders this year? It’s tough to answer that in late February, but we are already seeing the mentality of the bullpen, which was historically bad last year, change for the better thanks to new addition Brandon Kintzler.
Kintzler agreed to a minor-league deal with the Phillies during the offseason, turning down a major-leauge deal from his previous team, the Miami Marlins, in order for a chance to earn a spot in the Phillies bullpen on a minor-league deal with incentives to make more money if he is able to make the major-league roster.
Kintzler gets $3M from Phillies plus $1M incentives (500K games, 500K games finished). He turned down $2 million from the Marlins, which is extremely smart given the fact that the Phillies bullpen is a mess. Bryce Harper, a former teammate of Kintzler while on the Nationals, pushed for this deal to happen. We should be happy that Harper did so, because Kintzler is bringing a whole new mentality to the bullpen this year that will make you want to run through a brick wall.
Kintzler is coming off his two best seasons of his career. He converted 13 of his 17 save chances while posting a 2.55 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 81.1 innings across 86 relief appearances for the Cubs and most recently, the Miami Marlins. He was an all-star in 2017 and led Marlins with 12 saves last year.
During an interview this past week, here’s what Kintzler had to say about the Phillies bullpen heading into the 2021 season. When asked the question, how do you change the mentality of a dreadful bullpen, Kintzler looked to consult a team official before answering. “Are we allowed to cuss in this” Kintzler asked the team official, before deciding to answer the question anyways.
“My mentality,” he said, “is basically just, ‘Fuck you. You’re not fucking beating me today. You’re not going to beat us today. As soon as we get the lead, we’re going to come out, we’re going to shove it up your ass. And if a guy gets in trouble, then the next guy needs to fucking shove it up your ass.’ When I went to Miami, that’s just what I preached and preached and preached. … You know, we weren’t the most talented team, but we worked together. We had to play together. I think I’ve been on winning teams four years in a row and I’ve kind of learned what makes teams win. It’s playing together. But you absolutely have to suffocate the team when you get the lead.”
Kintzler continued saying that everyone on the Marlins knew that the Phillies bullpen was broken and they could feel it when the teams faced each other. His mentality of “enough is enough” and “this shit ends now” is exactly the type of energy this Phillies bullpen needs heading into the season.
“They kept coming, but they would take the lead and they would just give it right back. There was no, ‘Enough is enough. This shit’s fucking over.’ And that’s the mentality I try to bring as well. As somebody who has survived in this game, I have to have some kind of mental edge on you when I come in the game. And it’s just like, Fuck you.”
The bullpen will feature several new arms this year, highlighted by free agent signing Archie Bradley. Tony Watson, Kintzler, and Vince Velasquez, will likely be joining Bradley, Hector Neris, Connor Brogdon, and Jojo Romero in the bullpen on Opening Day. In the early days of Spring Training, the Phillies desperately needed a veteran reliever to come in and be the voice of change for the bullpen. Early signs would indicate they have their man with Brandon Kintzler. Only time will tell if it actually has an impact when the Phillies take the field on Opening Day.
Relievers: Archie Bradley, Héctor Neris, José Alvarado, Connor Brogdon, JoJo Romero, Brandon Kintzler, Tony Watson and Vince Velasquez
Archie Bradley, Hector Neris, and Jose Alvarado will lead a completely rebuilt bullpen for the Phillies in 2021. Connor Brogdon and Jojo Romero will hope to build off their strong appearances from last year, newcomers Brandon Kintzler, Tony Watson, will land jobs in the bullpen, and Vince Velasquez will also find a spot after failing to make the starting rotation.
Another reliever to keep an eye on would be Hector Rondon, who struggled last year but signed with the Phillies this offseason. Rondon had a 3.06 ERA from 2014-2019 with the Cubs and Astros.
Predicted Opening Day Lineup:
- Andrew McCutchen
- Rhys Hoskins
- Bryce Harper
- JT Realmuto
- Didi Gregorius
- Alec Bohm
- Jean Segura
- Scott Kingery
- Aaron Nola
Mandatory Credit: Sarah Stier | Getty Images