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Underneath the Ivy: Analyzing the Phillies New-Look Bullpen

In 2012, the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen was expected to be the anchor of the team. With the signings of Jonathan Papelbon and Chad Qualls, and the return of the budding Antonio Bastardo, the bullpen looked like it could help the Phillies win game after game. Instead, they blew 19 saves in 61 opportunities. They lost 27 games in 49 opportunities. They let up a total of 58 homeruns throughout the season. With a bullpen that atrocious, it was really no surprise that the Phillies floundered in 2012.

This year, the pen looks to be better for the Phillies, having signed Mike Adams and Chad Durbin.

Chad Durbin is a name Phillies fans are familiar with. He was with the Phillies from the World Series run in 2008 through 2010. Durbin has a career ERA of 4.95, but his best year came in Philadelphia in 2008. He had a 2.71 ERA in 71 games for the Phils in 2008, and get this: He only allowed 5 home runs that year. Durbin is coming off a good year in which he pitched in 76 games with a 3.10 ERA for a stellar Atlanta Braves bullpen. Can he come back and help lead the Phils to the promised land again? I think so.

The Phillies want Mike Adams to hold down the fort in the pen in 2013.

Adams has been one of the best setup men in the big leagues in recent years (2008 – 2.48 ERA, 2009 – 0.73 ERA, 2010 – 1.76 ERA, 2011- 1.47 ERA), but struggled a little more last year (3.27 ERA). Another thing that the Phillies can look forward to: in his 8 years in the league, he has only let up an impressive total of 27 homers. He also boasts a 66% strike percentage throughout his career. He has settled in to an average of 15 walks per season over the last 4 seasons. The Phillies as a team had a 3.39 strikeout to walk ratio and Adams has a career 3.41 strikeout to walk ratio. Those numbers seem to fit well together.

In the fall Adams, had surgery to remove a rib to alleviate the pain he was having in his pitching arm, which could have easily caused his down year. A strong eighth-inning guy to hand the ball over to Papelbon . . . sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

Antonio Bastardo has been a household name for the Phillies the past few years. After debuting as a starting pitcher in June of 2009 against the San Diego Padres, he was moved to the bullpen. After a rocky start in 2009 and 2010, Bastardo came into his own during the 2011 season. He posted a 6-1 record with a 2.64 ERA.  In 2012, Bastardo was supposed to be the “go-to guy”. He ended up being the “go-home guy”. Last season he posted a 4.33 ERA, but he did have one bright spot: his strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio was outstanding at 14.0. In 2013, the Phillies are hoping that Bastardo will learn from Adams and reinvent himself as the reliever he was in 2011.

Closer Jonathan Papelbon was the only rock that the Phillies had in the bullpen last year. In his first year with the Phillies, Papelbon posted a 2.44 ERA while pitching in the most games in a season for his career. He recorded 38 saves in 42 chances. After Brad Lidge’s 47 for 47 season in 2008, the fans have wanted a closer that can live up to that every year. Papelbon can be that guy. There’s a very good chance that he could do it this year. With one of the game’s best setup men in front of him and a promising Bastardo to help out, Papelbon should not have as much weight on his shoulders this year. That could help relax him and turn those 4 blown saves last year into 4 more saves this year.

The budding Phillippe Aumont could also prove to be a great reliever this year. Towards the end of the season, the young Aumont was one of the only bright spots in a dismal bullpen, giving up only 1 run in his final nine appearances. With Michael Stutes and Michael Schwimer coming back as well, the bullpen looks as if they can restore themselves to greatness in a year that they might just have to be the saviors of the team.

The Phils are just lucky that the greatest reliever of all-time, David Herndon, will now be the headache of the New York Yankees.

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Categories: Editorial, Phillies

Author:Dan Borine

Die-hard Philly sports fan... yes, that includes the Sixers (somewhat).

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