2013 Phillies Report Card: Chad Durbin

As a birthday present to me this year, Ruben Amaro decided to sign Chad Durbin.

This was just under a week removed from the everlasting Delmon Young signing, capping off a week of deals that amounted to relatively little baseball money but relatively lots of anguish and gray-hairing. Durbin was inked to a one-year deal plus a club option, and was guaranteed $1.1 million with his $850k salary in ’13 and $250k buyout in ’14, plus games played incentives he never had a prayer of collecting.

Durbin had posted a decent ERA with mediocre peripherals in 2012, and in a vacuum, maybe the deal wasn’t so bad. But there were principles and circumstances surrounding this deal that made it an antagonist from the get-go.

Entering the season, the Phillies were nothing if not flush with young, reliever-profile pitchers on or capable of being on the 40-man roster, and looked to be able to fill their bullpen needs from within. Instead, Durbin was picked up, and that eventually cost Justin De Fratus a chance to break with the big league club after the spring.

Alright, so that’s not a huge deal. And besides, Durbin was probably only going to be used in lower-leverage situations, yeah? Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo and the newly-signed Mike Adams were all certain to have later-inning prerogative. Heck, even Phillippe Aumont had people thinking he was on the cusp of turning into a formidable relief presence. It looked like there were better options, and so all we were to expect of Durbin was mop-up duty.

But, naturally, things just don’t work that simply. Amaro’s multi-year contract fetish couldn’t be suppressed enough to forgo the unnecessary second-year option, and Durbin didn’t even need half of the first season to show just how unnecessary it was. Eight times in his second go-round with the Phillies did Durbin enter a game with the score tied or the Phillies within two runs (only once did he enter with a lead, and it was six runs). He allowed five of his own runs in addition to seven of 11 inherited runners. He allowed runs in five of his seven May appearances. He finished his season with a 1.063 OPS allowed. He was bad, and he was jettisoned.

I originally gave Durbin a D-, but after going through it all and feeling about as disenchanted as someone going stag on prom night, I’ve got to fall back to the pack with a big, fat F. Thanks for 2008, Chad.

Bill Michael Eric Ryan


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  1. Andrew Cleveland Alexander

    October 09, 2013 08:20 AM

    In (weak) defense of Amaro, it’s not like the kids in the bullpen were exactly stellar, either. Even Diekman was sucking at LHV early in the season. It’s like the model of the universe suggested by the movie Sliding Doors: even if he didn’t get on the Durbin train, the Phillies still would have ended up at Crapville Station.

  2. BradInDC

    October 09, 2013 08:26 AM

    Crapville Station. Well played, ACA.

  3. Andrew Cleveland Alexander

    October 09, 2013 09:04 AM

    I do wonder how having Sandberg as manager will affect the composition of the bullpen. He had a lot of these guys in Lehigh Valley, and is presumably more familiar with the farm system than Manuel, who often seemed like he had no idea who the team’s prospects were. Maybe Ryno will know how to use these guys a little better? It certainly seemed like the bullpen gelled a bit after he took over, though it was a small sample size.

  4. SteveH

    October 09, 2013 09:48 AM

    @ everyone

    I have a general question for everyone, readers and writers. Was this or was this not one of the most garbage full teams the Phillies have had in the past say, 20 years? I feel like some of the 100 loss teams didn’t have a much trash on them as this team did. Let me know what you guys think.

  5. bubba0101

    October 09, 2013 10:40 AM

    Is there a grade lower than F?

  6. Andrew Cleveland Alexander

    October 09, 2013 10:51 AM


    Two words: Amaury Telemaco

  7. Chris S.

    October 09, 2013 10:57 AM


    Those 100 loss teams also didn’t have talent like Lee, Hamels, Brown, Utley, and Rollins. Heck you could even throw Howard and Revere in the mix for the talented players list. The gap between the best players and worst players was extreme with this team.

  8. Bob

    October 09, 2013 11:56 AM

    Didn’t the Bravos use Durbin the previous year as a situational righty only brought in to face one or two batters?

  9. hk

    October 09, 2013 12:24 PM


    * In 2012, 35% of the PA’s against Durbin were by LH-hitters.

    * In 2013, 36% of the PA’s against Durbin were by LH-hitters.

    * In his career, 46% of the PA’s against Durbin were by LH-hitters.

    It looks like the Phils tried to copy the Braves’ approach and reduce his exposure to LH-hitters. Unfortunately, whether it was luck, better defense, randomness or some combination of those factors, his ERA with the Braves was much better.

  10. GB

    October 09, 2013 12:59 PM

    All these bad signings were the result again of the Phils self-delusion they could compete this year and that re-tooling was not necessary…

    Some will say signing Durbin, DYoung, MYoung, Adams etc. were all stop-gap moves to buy time for the farm hands, yadda, yadda, yadda…

    Then why were Durbin & Adams give more than 1 yr deals? Why was DYoung kept in the field/lineup way past the point it was obvious he stunk and the team was going nowhere? Why was MYoung held onto past the trade deadline (and continued to play) when again it was obvious he blew at 3B and the team was dead in the water?

    No, the Phils FO truly thought they had a shot this year even after admitting last season was the final try with this core…and they continue to retain the core(!?)and the talk continues to be about how they will compete next season. How? This team is deeply flawed. They need to trade off the vets they can for value and make 2014 the transition year to a new run…

  11. LTG

    October 09, 2013 01:47 PM

    More words:

    Ricky Otero, Desi Relaford, Kevin Sefcik, Kevin Jordan, Michael Mimbs, Cliff Politte

  12. Bob

    October 09, 2013 10:43 PM

    Thanks for the info, HK. Looking at his IP vs. appearances, he had 61 IP for the Braves in 76 appearances, whereas he had 16 IP in 16 appearances for the Phils. That could show that he was used only in specific situations. I thought it was righty-righty, but I was wrong.

    Also, looks like he gave up 2.3 hr/9 vs. 1.3 when he was on Braves. Maybe having him pitch in Citizens Bank was a bad call.

  13. hk

    October 10, 2013 06:02 AM

    In the small sample size of 16 innings, he had career highs in BB%, HR/FB% and BABIP. His xFIP in those 16 IP was practically the same as it was for Atlanta in 2012. As I mentioned, I think some combination of defense, randomness and luck are responsible for the difference between his 2012 and 2013 ERA’s rather than where he pitched (his home and road numbers are pretty comparable) or which handed batters he faced (his vs. L and vs. R numbers are also pretty close).

    The bottom line is that the team signed a pitcher with career ERA and FIP in the 5.00 range, who was coming off a 3.10 ERA / 4.78 FIP season and expected better results than most who read this site expected.

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