Last Night Showed Glimpse of Bullpen Potential

Domonic Brown grabbed the spotlight early during last night’s series finale against the Mets, hitting a three-run home run into the second deck in right field, capping off a five-run first inning against starter Jeremy Hefner. Chase Utley also contributed a two-run home run as the Phillies went on to win 7-3 — the third time in four games the Phillies have scored at least seven runs.

It wasn’t the offense last night that was refreshing though; it was the bullpen. A source of despair throughout the home opening series against the Kansas City Royals, the Phillies got to see what an efficient 7-8-9 shift looks like for the first time this season. After Kyle Kendrick held the Mets to two runs over six innings, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams, and Jonathan Papelbon held the Mets at bay to walk away with the series lead, the lone blemish being a Lucas Duda solo home run off of Adams.

Despite the disappointing performances to open the season, the bullpen is more than capable of being a source of comfort for the Phillies as the season progresses. Lefties Bastardo and Jeremy Horst along with right-hander Phillippe Aumont represent youthful upside with lots of strikeouts, while Adams and Papelbon have two of the better resumes among relievers in baseball.

As the Phillies gave up leads or otherwise put games further out of their reach with bullpen grease fires recently, there was some talk of a bullpen shakeup:

What they can’t do is let a handful of spare-part relievers continue to work themselves into dubious shape while the season slow-drips away.

That doesn’t mean you pack all of these guys in a crate and ship them to North Korea. But it does mean the clock is ticking. The Phillies sent relievers Michael Stutes, Justin De Fratus, Jake Diekman, and Joe Savery to the minors. Ruben Amaro Jr. needs to keep a shuttle running between Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley until somebody proves he can handle these jobs.

It’s not even close to panic time with a bullpen with so much upside.

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4 comments

  1. TomG

    April 11, 2013 07:51 AM

    I agree about the bullpen, although I would say I’d rather see Stutes, De Fratus, Diekman or Savery – any of them – before I ever saw Durbin on the mound for the Phillies again. The bomb to Duda not withstanding, even Adams looked good last night.

    A couple unrelated things:

    Watching the Mets feed last night, I got to hear some of Hernandez’s critiques of Howard at first. He thinks just in general that Howard is still lumbering and favoring his injured leg, which seems to be true. All the Mets guys were remarking that from the time of Valdespin’s leadoff bunt. But also, Hernandez pointed out that Howard was actually doing his stretch with his right foot on the base. Not every time, but a couple, at least, including the play on which Young bounced a throw to first and Howard had to dig it out. KH speculated he’s trying to protect that bad gam.

    Apropos of nothing, I’d also like to offer the phrased-in-the-form-of-a-rhetorical-question observation: Has anybody in the history of major league baseball ever thrown to second from his knees as well as Kratz? I mean, he hosed a guy who’s so fast he had three infield hits just last night, and none of the plays at first were even close.

    O, one other thing – did the Philly feed show Pap asking the umpire to call the game after two outs because of rain? That was pretty funny. He made this cutting across his neck motion to the HP ump, who then just said, apparently, get back on the mound and pitch. And then Pap put Valdespin away, which was a nice ending all around.

  2. Jonny5

    April 11, 2013 08:09 AM

    I like the bullpen. I just don’t like when in a close game Chad Durbin is trotted out meanwhile better pitchers sit in the pen and in AAA. I don’t get it.

  3. Kevin

    April 11, 2013 11:16 PM

    Not real happy about Durbin, but strongly agree with BB. Saber-rattling about shuffling guys around every time someone has a few bad outings can only lead to bad things. There isn’t a pitcher available who isn’t going to have some rough stretches and the Phillies’ team ERA isn’t going to end up over 6. Just show faith in the guys you have and let them play ball.

  4. JM

    April 12, 2013 08:17 AM

    Durbin has never been a high leverage guy. He isn’t a shut down pitcher, and never was. He’s a guy you put in when your starter can’t get out of the 4th inning. Let him work long relief, and he will be fine. I think Stutes and Diekman will be up sometime in the future. I love Diekman’s stuff…

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