• August 17, 2022

The Phillies Bullpen Has Been Critical To Their Success

A concern about the Phillies before the season was the amount of depth in the bullpen. The team had lost a reliable reliever in Chad Durbin. They were forced to bring a pair of unreliable pitchers (J.C. Romero, Danys Baez) back out of necessity. Jose Contreras and Brad Lidge were each another year older, and it wasn’t clear what the team could expect from the aging veterans.

In Spring Training, the concerns about the bullpen only grew when the team learned that Lidge would have to miss an extended amount of time with elbow and shoulder injuries. It left the Phillies without a true closer, and they were forced to insert Contreras into the role, hurting the overall depth of the bullpen.

The veteran right-hander converted all five of his save opportunities, but was then forced to spend some on the disabled list, forcing Ryan Madson into the closer position and also forcing the Phillies to rely on young relievers Antonio Bastardo and Mike Stutes to pitch the seventh and eighth innings.

The results have been far greater than what the Phillies could have hoped for. Not only have Madson, Bastardo, and Stutes performed well in their respective roles, but they have been nearly flawless.

Bastardo originally wasn’t supposed to be used as anything more than a lefty specialist. He’s made the most of his opportunities, and has earned the trust of manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee to regularly pitch the eighth inning. He’s only given up three runs in 23 innings of work, leaving him with an excellent ERA of 1.17.

Stutes forced his way on to the Phillies’ radar in Spring Training, where he gave up only one run and four hits in 11 innings. The team didn’t have room for him on the roster at the start of the season, but the Oregon native got his chance to shine when Contreras went down. He’s carried over his success from Spring Training, and has only given up three runs in 14.2 innings. The young righty is proving he belongs in the big leagues.

The biggest revelation of the successful bullpen has been Ryan Madson. The 30-year old expressed a desire to be the team’s closer after Lidge went down in Spring Training. However, his failures in his past opportunities caused the Phillies to opt to go with Contreras at the start of the season.

Now that Madson has gotten his chance, he’s flourished in the closer’s role. He hasn’t blown a save in 13 opportunities, and has finally carried over his dominating eighth inning persona to the ninth inning. If he continues to succeed, the Phillies will have found their long-term answer for the position.

The success of the bullpen has been absolutely critical to the success of the team this season. Without the rise of Madson, Bastardo, and Stutes, the Phillies would not be in first place in the National League East today. They’d be in trouble if the young relievers didn’t step up, and if they had to rely on Baez and Romero on a regular basis. The team’s starters may be great, but they obviously can’t be expected to go all nine innings.

With an offense that struggles to score three runs or more on a regular basis, the margin for error by the bullpen in the late innings is very slim. The team has been fortunate that Bastardo and Stutes have been able to step up and become key contributors, and they’ve been even more fortunate that Madson has gotten over his ninth inning struggles. What they now have is a reliable, consistent bullpen that has been an excellent compliment to an elite starting rotation.

Denny Basens

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5 Comments

  • You only have Madson, Bastardo, right now in my book. Stutes is promising, Contrares is 50 & breaking down, Romero doesn’t have his ROIDS anymore, Baez, Herndon & Zugursky should be sunk to the bottom of the deepest trench on Earth. Hopefully Amaro can steal a deal to jolt some life into this AARP ridden lineup, & the starting Pitchers can be more consistent. I can’t believe that they are holding onto 1st. Amazing!

  • Not so fast my friend DDCar
    Phillies LIte are no longer in 1st place in the NL
    The Cardinals are ahead of them (have 1 more win then the Phils) and now they’re 7 other teams within 4 games of this domintant team that was supposed to win 120 Games and have 4 Starters with 20 Win Seasons and a team that was a shoe-in for the World Series… I stick by my original statesment that this 2011 version of the Phils is missing the fire and heart to be a great team… They will have to battle all season long just to make the playoffs with about 92-94 Wins to beat out the Braves and Marlins.. My Money is still on the Braves for 1st Place in NL East, even though I don’t like them and even if the Phils win the NL East, they don’t have enough consistent offense to win it all.. Pitch around Howard and who else is going to make you pay..They can bunch 3-4 Hits together about once per game for about 2 runs worth and that’s about it.. No real long-ball threats anymore and not many runs will be scored.. What a huge disappointment ..

  • the injuries with brad lidge is starting to piss me off… can’t wait until we dump him. He was the reason why we won the 08 WS, but that ship has sailed… time to move on. I’ve been really impressed wth bastardo, last year I thought he sucked, but he’s been doing great. Also does it bother anyone that the phils haven’t hit a homer in the last 7 games?

  • I am so glad that Lidge, Ibanez & Rollins are gone at the end of the year. I’m sick of seeing them, hearing about them. This team needs a semi house cleaning in the off season. The only one’s that should return are- Victorino, Polanco, Ruiz, Utley & Howard who you can’t get rid of anyway, Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Worley, Madsen, Bastardo, Maybe Stutes. Amaro gets the big bucks to figure out the rest. Everybody else is collateral damage. This team is way too old, over payed & needs a youth rejuvenation with talent.Going to be hard to do, but this teams nucleus has played itself out, & something has to be done quick. They are hard to watch every night. I’m going to buy stock in Tums & Pepto soon. BTW is anyone else getting a little pissed at Oswalt’s antics & lack of energy on the mound lately? Ever since he went home he doesn’t look the same.

  • I agree about Oswalt who I stated would retire after this season due to wanting to spend more time with his family.. He started out this Season on fire and appeared to want to go out in style, but it does appear since his trip back home for those storms has pulled his enery and mind to being home.

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