He was an unknown, you know. Chad Durbin was often confused with J.D. Durbin, although the two are not related as humans or as pitchers. The latter Durbin flamed out while the former changed roles in 2008, moving from starter to reliever. It was a wise decision.
Chad Durbin became one of the more reliable bullpen arms in all of baseball after joining the Phillies from the Detroit Tigers. He’s been a stalwart; someone able to go multiple innings if necessary, or provide late-inning help in a pinch should Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, or Jose Contreras be unable to go. All-in-all, Durbin proved to be an excellent out-of-nowhere singing.
Currently, Durbin continues to sit on the open market, free to join the team of his choosing. It’s been reported that Durbin and the Phillies have spoken several times about returning to the organization that picked him off the scrap heap and helped turn him into a serviceable pitcher. But not so fast – do the Phils really need to bring back Durbin at what will surely be more than a year ago? In 2010, Durbin brought home over $2.1 million.
As much as I enjoy having Durbin be a part of the Phillies relief corps, it’s unnecessary to bring him back.
Just last week, J.C. Romero finalized his deal to rejoin the club after it appeared he would not return. With Romero in the fold, the cast of bullpen arms now stands at roughly seven: Romero, Lidge, Madson, Contreras, Antonio Bastardo, Danys Baez, and Kyle Kendrick/Vance Worley. If Joe Blanton is dealt, or if Baez is released, that could change.
If keeping Blanton – an innings-eating fifth starter – becomes the plan, the need for a long man in the bullpen becomes relatively unnecessary. Especially if Kendrick is kept as a guy that can both start and relieve. The adage is, you can never have too many pitchers on your staff, and that’s true. The Phillies just don’t need Durbin.
The time is now to find out what the Phillies have in some of their younger pitchers. David Herndon spent the entire season in Philadelphia in 2010 – he could benefit greatly from an increased role. Guys like Scott Mathieson and Justin DeFratus will be given an opportunity to shine in spring training and without Durbin locked into a contract that will be for at least $2 million, why not allow a cheaper alternative to enter the fray?
Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels ate up 883 1/3 innings combined in 2010. Without being a math major, that’s an insane number. Having four horses greatly reduces the need for someone like Durbin and allows for some toying around in the later innings to find the next Durbin.