Issues

Majewski Leads Current Bullpen Race

A bunch of players are competing for seemingly the final bullpen spot (at least until JC Romero returns from his 50-game suspension). While only one candidate is a left-hander, that doesn’t mean the Phillies are in a bad spot. My opinion: It’s not necessary to carry two situational lefties out of the pen if you have pitchers who can get all hitters out. The Phils have those pitchers.

So far one can handicap Gary Majewski as the favorite after a few weeks. He’s been almost dominant, and he’s the subject of Jim Salisbury’s piece today.

Majewski, 29, had his share of shoulder woes in the last few seasons, but has a pedigree. His 79-game, 2.93 ERA season of 2005 stands out even today. Since he has seen success in triple-A but failure in the big leagues. Splits don’t reveal anything (except lefties had trouble producing off him in 2008), but Majewski says his slider is feeling and looking great. And his sinker, which he throws against righties, is in great shape too.

Dave Borkowski
The 32-year-old was last with the Astros, where he saw limited time and recorded a 7.50 ERA. He’s never had success in the majors, which is working against him. He’s having a fine spring, striking out a lot of hitters; then again, he’s always had pretty decent K/9 ratios.

Mike Koplove
Local product Koplove, 32, had his best seasons in the early 2000s with Arizona, but has since found it tougher to reach the big leagues. He’s a solid control pitcher who can get outs if balls are hit to his fielders; otherwise, he’ll be in big trouble. Think Kyle Kendrick.

Scott Nestor
You’d think the Marlins product was a major leaguer at some point, but no. His last very successful year was in high-A ball, so he’s nothing special. Still, he’s a great strikeout pitcher, K’ing close to 10 per nine innings every season. So far he’s seen little time and has walked more than K’d. His chances remain slim.

Blaine Neal
The former Marlin and Marlton, N.J., product had small success years back, but has recently been bouncing in the minors. He was a star in the International League last year, recording a 1.21 ERA for Toledo. He’s also seen very little time and remains a slim hope.

Antonio Bastardo
The only prospect with hopes of reaching the pen this way, Bastardo has had a mixed spring. The normally strong strikeout pitcher has continued that trend, K’ing four in three Grapefruit League innings. He also gave up a couple longballs, which remains his Achilles heel. In a sixth-inning role he might be passable; right now he still needs work if he wants to become a late-innings threat.

Currently I’d say Majewski can pitch his way to the 25-man roster. Borkowski and Koplove have their shots, but if Majewski can continue his steady performance, he’s in. And I’m happy with that.

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