By: Jeff Nelson
Antonio Bastardo’s 2010 campaign had its ups and downs … literally. He spent most of his time alternating between the big show (25G, 18.2IP) and the Phillies triple-A affiliate, Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (20G, 17.1IP). After missing time on the DL due to a tender left elbow, Bastardo also threw three scoreless-innings for the Clearwater Threshers in a rehab assignment in mid-July. While he did make the Phils post-season roster for a second consecutive season, Bastardo was used just once, allowing one base-runner in two opportunities.
If there’s one thing Bastardo excels at, it’s striking out hitters. Keep in mind we’re dealing with very small sample sizes when it comes to relievers, but across all three levels Bastardo K’d 59 batters in only 39 innings of work, good for an absurd 16.8 K/9. Minor league numbers aside, the 12.5 K/9 he had at the big league level was certainly well above average for a reliever and his career average of 9.6, which in turn is still well above league-average for any major league pitcher.
Along with the uptick in punch-outs, Bastardo also saw his BB/9 jump about a walk per inning from 3.4 to 4.3. Control has never been Bastardo’s biggest asset, but with his live arm and the ability to retire hitters via the strikeout, the added walks obviously aren’t welcome, but they shouldn’t hurt him as bad as they would, say Chad Durbin or J.C. Romero.
Despite sporting solid peripherals, Bastardo’s 4.34ERA was a little on the high side. If there are any fellow Baseball Prospectus-nerds out there, you’ll see his 2.90 SIERA is a better indication of what his run prevention should have been. Actually I’m surprised to see his SIERA that low considering his 34.7% groundball rate, but again, those strikeouts make up for his shortcomings.
I’m not sure why Charlie Manual didn’t use Bastardo more in 2010 as he was clearly the superior left-handed weapon out of the bullpen over J.C. Romero. Maybe it’s because Charlie’s loyalty to the players who helped win the WFC back in ’08 clouds his judgment at times? Maybe it’s because Charlie doesn’t trust younger players? Obviously in 2011 this won’t be an issue, but I’m wondering if, perhaps, Bastardo was somewhat underutilized last season when he was on the 25-man roster.
Going forward I fully expect Bastardo to be in the Phillies plans for the next several years as a reliever. And while I don’t think those high strikeout rates will remain as high as they were in 2010, he should be a cheap, effective option out of the bullpen come opening day 2011 (and of course they won’t need him on opening day with Doc on the bump).
2010 (Phillies): 2-0, 25G, 18.2IP, 19H, 9ER, 1HR, 9BB, 26SO
2010 (Minors): 1-1, 23G, 20.1IP, 15H, 4ER, 6BB, 33SO
Jeff’s Grade: 7.1/10