This Isn’t Looking Good… Or Is It?

Your 2009 Philadelphia Phillies bullpen, ERA’s in September:

  • Brad Lidge: 9.34 in 8.2 IP
  • Sergio Escalona: 7.38 in 3.2 IP
  • Tyler Walker: 6.51 in 9.2 IP

This isn’t looking good. Or is it?

  • Ryan Madson: 3.49 in 10.1 IP
  • Chad Durbin: 2.13 in 12.2 IP
  • Clay Condrey: 0.00 in 3.2 IP

Of course, Brett Myers, Scott Eyre and J.C. Romero are recovering from injuries with Chan Ho Park on the shelf, and Kyle Kendrick and Jamie Moyer out in the ‘pen as mop-up specialists. A year separated from sporting one of the most formidable, most organized, least-worrisome bullpens in baseball, the tables have turned and many Phillies fans are on the verge of needing A.A. for ninth innings what with all of the disarray.

Yet, even with that disarray, the Phillies are still middle-of-the-pack in most categories when it comes to the bullpen:

  • IP: 461, 19th out of 30 MLB teams
  • K/9 rate: 7.7, 15th
  • BB/9 rate: 4.12, 8th
  • K/BB rate: 1.86, 19th
  • HR allowed: 46, 22nd
  • WHIP: 1.388, 17th
  • BABIP: .291, 19th

It still looks decent with WXRL:

  • Madson: 2.25
  • Park: 2.08
  • Durbin: 0.89
  • Condrey: 0.39
  • Walker: 0.28
  • Escalona: 0.11

That’s right: the above six relievers — familiar faces here in September — have combined to contribute about six wins to the team. The only Phillies reliever with a WXRL in the negatives that is still on the roster is Lidge. Andrew Carpenter, Rodrigo Lopez, and Jack Taschner haven’t seen MLB action in a while.

Comparing this year to last year:

  • Phillies’ starters, 2009: 4.20 ERA with a .775 opponent OPS
  • Phillies’ relievers, 2009: 3.98 ERA with a .715 opponent OPS
  • Phillies’ starters, 2008: 4.23 ERA with a .756 opponent OPS
  • Phillies’ relievers, 2008: 3.22 ERA with a .703 opponent OPS

If we take Brad Lidge out of the equation, the ’09 bullpen ERA drops to 3.50.

Simply put, the bullpen isn’t nor will be as bad as it has shown or seemed to be in the last week or so. Brad Lidge has been the only consistently poor performer. The success of the Phillies’ bullpen in the post-season will largely rest on the successful comebacks of Myers, Eyre, and Romero as well as the remaining contributors staying with the status quo.

Teams have hiccups many times throughout the season. Sometimes the Phillies go through stretches where they don’t hit, or where their starters are absolutely terrible. The bullpen, as enigmatic as it has been, is also prone to such hiccups. It is simply part of the game and not a true reflection of the ‘pen’s true talent level, which is somewhere around average (above-average if we remove Lidge from the equation) — not bad but not great either.