Earlier this morning, Bill Baer wrote about his concerns that Ken Giles‘ 38-pitch outing last night was a sign the Phillies will continue to abuse the arms of their high leverage relievers despite the departure of manager Ryne Sandberg. I agree whole-heartedly that the management of Justin De Fratus and Jake Diekman this season has been alarming at best and gross negligence at worst. That said, I’m not willing to lump last night into this trend of abuse. In fact, leaving Giles in may very well have been the right decision by interim manager Pete Mackanin.
Entering last night’s game, De Fratus had five relief outings this season of 40+ pitches and Diekman had two such appearances. If these heavy workloads were the result of marathon extra innings games, they might be excusable, but all of these outings occurred before the 9th inning. The outcry regarding this usage is that Sandberg took two arms that have the potential to be high leverage bullpen arms and forced them into long reliever roles that ought to be reserved for middle relievers who once carried starter workloads, namely Dustin McGowan and Jeanmar Gomez. This is irresponsible bullpen management that could very conceivably have negative short-term and/or long-term on the careers of Diekman and De Fratus. But this is not what happened last night.