On the contrast, the bullpen is a work in progress.
Unlike the starting rotation, which is filled with hall-of-fame potential between Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cliff Lee, the bullpen is filled with walk-happy hurlers.
Aside from Brad Lidge, the bullpen doesn’t have a “big-name” pitcher. Last season, the bullpen ranked 18th in the league in overall ERA (4.02) and was the worst bullpen among the N.L. East. Surprisingly, the Washington Nationals ranked fifth in bullpen ERA (3.33). Then again, their starting pitcher was not very good, and the only way they had any chance of winning a game was if their bullpen could keep the deficit reasonable.
J.C. Romero (29) and Chad Durbin (27), coming out of the bullpen, were one-and-two in walks. Luckily, both are no longer on the team as their contracts expired; however, Durbin could possibly re-sign with the club seeing that their bullpen options are limited.
Next season, the bullpen should have an easy job because of the incredible starting rotation that Ruben Amaro Jr. has invested in.
Over their careers, the “Big Phour” have consistently gone six or more innings in each start.
Innings per Start
Their combined innings pitched per start translates to 7.01 innings. If they can keep that going into 2011 (and I see no reason they wouldn’t), the bullpen will only be expected to go three innings, at minimum.
That’s not even accounting for the possibility of a complete game, which we know is a normal occurrence for Halladay.
Complete Games per Season (since 2006)
Of course, they’re not going to go all nine innings every time they pitch, but there’s always the possibility they can go nine, or at least eight innings.
But, the Phillies still need to find relievers to fill up their ‘pen, specifically a lefty to replace Romero.
That’s where the young guns come into play.
Antonio Bastardo, a left-handed reliever, appears to have a good shot at cracking the opening day roster in 2011. In 25 bullpen appearances in 2010, Bastardo, 25, compiled a 2-0 record with a 4.34 ERA. He was the only pitcher with at least 25 or more appearances to allow only one home run.
In addition to Bastardo, the Phillies could turn to Mike Zagurski, another left-handed reliever. Zagurski, a 27-year old New England native, appeared in eight games last season, finishing with a dreadful 10.29 ERA in seven innings of work. However, he did fare better when he came up with club in 2007 after compiling a 1-0 record with a 5.91 ERA and 21 strikeouts.
And then there’s the 26-year old Venezuelan, Sergio Escalona. The lefty went 1-0 w