Courtesy of Cheryl Pursell
Former Liberty Hawks pitcher Connor Brogdon impressed the brass with the Phildelphia Phillies by not allowing a run in September over 8 2/3 innings with 14 strikeout.
The Philadelphia Phillies had all the chips fall their way on the final day of the Major League Baseball season Sunday, but the Phillies didn’t do their job and they, including former Liberty pitcher Connor Brogdon, are headed home and out of the postseason.
Despite the disappointing finish to the season, which ended in a 5-0 loss to the American League’s East Division champions, the Tampa Bay Rays, Brogdon opened some eyes by closing out the weekend with two scoreless outings.
Heading into Sunday’s final game, the Phillies needed the San Diego Padres to beat the San Francisco Giants, which they did 5-4 and the St. Louis Cardinals to beat the Milwaukee Brewers, which they did 5-2. However, Philadelphia needed to win and didn’t even manage a run while getting swept by the Rays.
However, Brogdon opened some eyes over the final week. With the game tied on Friday at four, Phillies manager Joe Girardi inserted Brogdon to keep the team in the game in seventh inning. Brogdon struck out the side on 14 pitches and sent the Phillies with the game still tied. However, the Phillies’ historically bad bullpen, which recorded a 7.71 ERA, blew the lead with two runs in the next inning.
On Saturday, Girardi turned to Brogdon in the eighth with a runner on base trailing by a run. Brogdon, again, struck out the side, this time on 15 pitches to get out of the inning unscathed. In addition, Brogdon’s fastball reached 98 mph and his change-up was devastating at 86.
Brogdon tuned into a reliable piece in an otherwise shaky bullpen. He didn’t allow run over six September appearances and allowed just one hit. He walked two and they came in the same appearance and struck out 14. He had a .037 batting average against.
Overall, he was 1-0 with a 3.97 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 11.1 innings pitched. He allowed five runs on three home runs. However, he finished with a .128 batting average against and some high praise.
The local Philadelphia television station gave Brogdon its bounce back award. NBC Sports in Philadelphia wrote an article about Brogdon’s success in September.
“With all that went wrong, they at least found a building block in Connor Brogdon, a 6-6 right-handed reliever who has dominated major-league hitters all month,” Corey Seidman wrote on the station’s website. “He’s struck out the side in both games of the Rays series. His fastball has sat 97-98 mph after averaging 95 in his first taste of the bigs, two rocky outings in August. Tellingly, Phillies manager Joe Girardi has turned to Brogdon in crucial situations on back-to-back nights with the season on the line. Brogdon pitched the seventh inning of a tie game Friday and the ninth inning of a game the Phillies trailed by one run Saturday. He was one of their only trustworthy relievers down the stretch, maybe their only.”
Seidman also wrote that Brogdon could be a key factor in the Phillies’ bullpen next season.
“In the two games at Tropicana Field, the Rays swung at 15 pitches from Brogdon and whiffed at 10,” he said. “Three of his strikeouts came on changeups, three on four-seam fastballs. There was a 10 to 12 mph difference in the velocity of those two pitches in Tampa, a meaningful number for the disruption of a hitter’s timing. Brogdon will factor into this bullpen’s future in a big way. He could open next season in the mix for work in the seventh or eighth inning.”
Even Girardi had some encouraging words to say about Brogdon.
“He’s taken some big steps this year,” Girardi said Bob Brookover’s column in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Monday. “He struggled his first time out and he had one other outing where he struggled a little bit with the command of his cutter, but, for the most part, he has been pretty good since he’s come back.”
Despite the disappointing finish to the season, there are some bright spot for the Phillies and Madera baseball fans are glad Brogdon is one of them.