So, Where’s Brad Lincoln?

I promise the bullpen-management posts won’t be so frequent going forward, but this issue is a bit perplexing.

During the off-season, GM Ruben Amaro traded back-up catcher Erik Kratz and Minor League pitcher Rob Rasmussen (acquired from the Dodgers in the Michael Young trade) to the Toronto Blue Jays for reliever Brad Lincoln. The Jays had acquired Lincoln in July 2012 for Travis Snider, but Lincoln struggled with command in his 60 1/3 innings in Toronto, walking 11.4 percent of batters.

The acquisition was one of the few in recent history that indicated the Phillies were buying low as opposed to buying high. Lincoln cost the team next to nothing — back-up catchers and minor league Quad-A type pitchers are as fungible as they come — but he still has the upside to evolve into a future set-up man or closer with a few minor alterations.

The Phillies are five games into the regular season and Lincoln has yet to make an appearance. Last season, all seven Phillies relievers made their season debut by the second game:

Pitcher 2013 Debut
Chad Durbin Game 1
Jeremy Horst Game 1
Phillippe Aumont Game 1
Raul Valdes Game 2
Antonio Bastardo Game 2
Mike Adams Game 2
Jonathan Papelbon Game 2

In 2012, all of the Phillies’ relievers made their season debuts by the fourth game.

Pitcher 2012 Debut
Jonathan Papelbon Game 1
Kyle Kendrick Game 2
Chad Qualls Game 2
Michael Stutes Game 2
Antonio Bastardo Game 2
David Herndon Game 3
Joe Savery Game 4

The same in 2011:

Pitcher 2011 Debut
J.C. Romero Game 1
David Herndon Game 1
Ryan Madson Game 1
Danys Baez Game 1
Jose Contreras Game 2
Kyle Kendrick Game 3
Antonio Bastardo Game 4

It’s not that there haven’t been opportunities to use Lincoln, either. As pointed out here recently, there were several spots during the series in Texas against the Rangers. Additionally, manager Ryne Sandberg had Jake Diekman, who has pitched in four out of the team’s first five games, pitch to three consecutive right-handed hitters in the bottom of the eighth inning with a 2-0 lead on Saturday. That would have been a perfect time to allow Lincoln to get into the game.

Unless A.J. Burnett tosses a complete game shut-out against the Cubs on Sunday afternoon, we should see Lincoln at some point. It doesn’t make sense to include him on the 25-man roster and then not use him once during the first two series of the season. If we don’t see him, then something is fishy.

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4 comments

  1. hk

    April 06, 2014 08:23 AM

    In the small sample size of 5 games, the Phillies relievers have thrown the 6th fewest innings (13 1/3) in MLB, so I’m okay with Sandberg not using Lincoln yet if he doesn’t trust him as much as he trusts others. Obviously, Diekmann won’t pitch in 80% of the games going forward and the need to use more of the pen will lead to opportunities to use Lincoln.

      • Alby

        April 06, 2014 09:48 AM

        I read it as Lincoln is the mop-up long man, and the Phils have (perhaps surprisingly) not been blown out in any game, and have only briefly been behind in any game — the two losses were on-the-road walk-offs. Bullpen management with the lead is different from management when behind

  2. Dan K.

    April 06, 2014 04:43 PM

    There you go.

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