Eighteen games into the 2009 season and the Phillies have just two seven-inning outings.
The Phils bullpen has been taxed so far, mainly because of downright horrendous starting pitching. Just last night Charlie Manuel had to point to the pen starting in the fifth inning; he brought in five pitchers, three of whom did more than exceptional work keeping the Nationals off the scoreboard. Combined, the bullpen has thrown 62.2 innings, or almost 40 percent of the time. That’s unacceptable.
The bullpen needs relief. Look at Brad Lidge, who is suddenly suffering from knee problems once again. Look at the innings mounting for Clay Condrey, who has been promoted to crucial swingman. Look at the inconsistent play from Chad Durbin and Ryan Madson, who were more consistent than not in 2008.
It’s easy to look at starting pitching and say “shape up.” Truly, Cole Hamels — tonight’s starter — needs to channel his inner ace and dominate Washington like he has done before. An eight-inning performance would be roundly appreciated. But if he can’t do it (then who can?), what can be done?
I recommend the Phils bring up Gary Majewski, who has thrown 11 innings with a 0.82 ERA for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Slot him into the bullpen with Condrey and Durbin, allowing the three to trade off appearances. Let the relievers breathe a little. Oh, who to send down? How about Miguel Cairo — his .000 average in seven at bats is just taking up space.
Hopefully, though, the best relief will be a huge start by No. 35.