The LOOGY — the left-handed, one out guy — is becoming an increasingly vital role in the modern bullpen. Mangers are relying more and more on lefty specialists to enter the game in high-leverage situations and retire a Brian McCann or a Joey Votto: the opposing team’s crucial left-handed hitter in the middle of the lineup. While the Phillies haven’t been the most disciplined in platoon match-ups in past years, they have utilized LOOGYs: J.C. Romero and Scott Eyre were the most prominent.
Going into Spring Training 2012, the Phillies brought with them a host of lefty relievers vying for that LOOGY spot: Dontrelle Willis, Joe Savery, Jake Diekman, Raul Valdes, David Purcey, Jeremy Horst, and Pat Misch. Through nine and two-thirds innings so far, the septet has a combined ERA of 5.58 with a K/BB of exactly 1:1 (eight strikeouts and eight walks). Valdes has been the only one looking sharp so far, with only one base runner allowed and two strikeouts in his two innings of work.
In Wednesday’s affair with the Houston Astros, Willis struggled with control, allowing four runs on three hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning. After the game, he referred to his performance as “horseshit”. Pat Misch wasn’t much better, allowing four runs on five hits and one walk in two innings. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any colorful words to describe his performance, which consisted of unimpressive slop.
As the Phillies are only a week into spring training, there is no need to be alarmed — pitchers are notoriously slow starters, and the sample sizes are incredibly small, so much so as to be worthless. However, this is a situation worth keeping an eye on for it is one of the few roster battles going on in Clearwater. The successful Phillies teams of the past illustrated how critical a LOOGY can be to a team’s post-season success, and they will be hoping for one of the seven to shine through by the time April rolls around. If that happens, the next step is getting Charlie Manuel to adhere them to a strict platoon basis, a chore in and of itself.