What to Make of Phillies Bullpen

On paper, games are not played. On the field is where battles between pitcher and hitter are won and lost, and right now, the Phillies bullpen is doing a lot of losing.

On paper, the Phillies would seemingly have a strong bullpen, possibly one of the best in baseball. They’ve got it all; power, finesse, a nice balance of left and right. Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon are two solid anchors. Phillippe Aumont, Antonio Bastardo, and Jeremy Horst represent the future. Chad Durbin was acquired to provide a veteran presence.

Right now, they are lacking results.

On Friday night against the Royals, Jeremy Horst immediately had the game blown open right in his face, allowing all three inherited runners score. Those runners were provided by Kyle Kendrick, but allowed to touch home from the arm of Horst; and all with two outs. Chad Durbin’s second run with the Phillies began with an infinity ERA, but joking aside, has been a nightmare. Raul Valdes was serving batting practice to the Royals.

Through the first four games, Phillies relievers have allowed 14 runs (not including the three runs from Horst that were charged to Kendrick) in 12 innings. After a disastrous first half of 2012, especially during the eighth inning, the Phils can ill afford a repeat performance.

Many, including myself, believed that with the acquisition of Adams, a fortification of late-inning situations had been achieved. They could rely on their starters to give them six innings on a nightly basis and have to really only worry about the seventh before handing it off. During the first handful of games, that has not been the case.

Perhaps once the starting rotation finds a semblance of rhythm, the relievers will not be far behind. In any case, there is nothing bullish about the Phillies pen.




  1. hk

    April 6, 2013 at 8:29 am

    4 games is obviously a small sample size, but if there’s a problem in that small sample size, it is that the manager and/or GM expect Chad Durbin to be something (a good pitcher) that he’s not. He’s a guy with a career ERA just under 5, who produced a career year in 2012 due primarily to good luck on balls in play. If they keep using Durbin instead of better pitchers in high leverage situations, the bullpen’s results will most likely continue to suffer.

    • George

      April 6, 2013 at 9:25 am

      I’ll only point out that so far, the choices other than Durbin have been just as bad or worse. Valdes has been abominable and Horst has been pretty rotten, too. It’d be nice to just get to Adams and Papelbon, or if needed for the seventh, Bastardo or Aumont, but when the starter only goes five or fewer, a bullpen is basically screwed. You can’t blame it all on Durbin; he’s not great, but he’s not an infinity ERA man, either.

      • hk

        April 6, 2013 at 9:39 am

        No, like I wrote, Durbin’s a 5 ERA guy who should not be in high leverage situations. The fact is that Charlie pitches his bullpen according to the inning, not the situation. I would have rather seen him pull Kendrick after 5, but if he was going to have Kendrick start the 6th, he should have had Bastardo and Aumont ready to escape the 6th and get through the 7th, not Horst and Durbin.

      • George

        April 6, 2013 at 1:18 pm

        Durbin did not relieve Kendrick; he pitched later after most of the damage had been done. You should be ripping Manuel for using Horst in a so-called “high leverage” situation.

        Like I said, Durbin isn’t great, but he has had a reasonable ammount of success, some of it a few years ago with the Phils. Two bad outings doesn’t equal one bad pitcher, at least not the kind of bad pitcher you seem to want him to be.

  2. Bart Shart

    April 6, 2013 at 11:30 am

    So far……YUK!

  3. Andrew From Waldorf

    April 6, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    The pen made me goto the library and take this book out.

  4. Dave

    April 6, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I also acknowledge it is early, but a message needs to be sent now so we are not replaying last years disaster over again. IMHO, Horst should have been sent down last night and let the clubhouse (and fan base) know now that that performance will not acceptable in 2013.

    • schmenkman

      April 6, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      I don’t know what that would accomplish other than appease a small segment of the fanbase.

  5. frank

    April 6, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    I don’t think anything can be taken out of the first 4 games of the season regarding the bullpen. They might end up being great. Look, I’ve been saying for a year that the phillies window is closing and they have to rebuild. They was to try for it for one more year. There is no way, I believe, that they have a chance of winning it all this year, and that is the goal, right. I think most teams do not know when to start rebuilding and when to keep trying one more time. The problem is, the longer you wait, the longer until you are good again. Who do the phillies have that any other team wants. Cliff Lee. I think they should pay a good portion of his contract and get prospects. Of course we want to keep Cole because he is young and is part of the future.

    I think while Chase Utley’s value is up, trade him for prospects. Same thing with Jimmy Rollins. I really can’t think of anyone else that a contending team would want.

    The red sox and marlins get bad press for what they did. But their rebuilds will be faster than hanging on for that extra year or two.

    Look, no one likes rebuilding, but normally you have to, to an extent. Atlanta’s was not too long because they have really good people up top and a really good farm system.

    The yankees should have started to rebuild a couple of years ago.

    No matter how the phillies do this year, which might be real good, enjoy baseball. We wait all off season and baseball is such a great sport and gets you away from all of life’s real problems for a few hours a day. I love baseball and when the phillies are not that good, I follow players in their minor league with expectations that they are our future. That’s why I would love to see a couple of trades with a few high end prospects to follow, along with smart drafting and free agency, then the rebuild, if we have proper expectations, could be quick.

    Enjoy the phillies, enjoy baseball.

  6. CS

    April 6, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Four games in and people already jumped off the cliff, wow.

    • frank

      April 6, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      I’m not jumping off the cliff at all, because I don’t expect the phillies to win it all. They might win 10 in a row and that’s great, but the team has issues. I’m saying, enjoy baseball and the phillies no matter what.

  7. Rob h

    April 7, 2013 at 12:07 am

    Yea lets trade every asset we have right good plan, except when the fans stop watching the games. Baseball is a business first and formost, it pays to be competitive. The phillies payroll is in like the top 7 if that’s right. They have Halliday, utley, chooch, nix, Kendrick, young all come off the books we have money to spend next year, and the luxury tax goes up to 189. The Red Sox unloaded hundreds of millions in payroll, that is not possible for us any big contract we trade we will pay at least 40%. Not to mention they didnt think they had the right clubhouse characters, our guys are first class all the way.What loria did is a crime. Bottom line, when you payroll is up to the luxery tax, there is no reason for a full scale rebuild. We don’t have the rays money strains, why should we put a team together like them.

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