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.