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The Mysterious Effectiveness Of Chad Durbin

One of the surprises of the Phillies league-best bullpen is Chad Durbin. The journeyman starter/reliever has become the ultimate swing man, pitching in many situations and getting the job done almost every time.

Currently he carries a 1.89 ERA in his 33.1 innings of work. How is he doing it?

Interestingly, he doesn’t thrive with more outs. With no outs, opponents are hitting a solid .094 against him. But with one out, it’s .244. With two outs, it’s .295. OPS numbers jump up tremendously as well, from .265 to .594 to .847. Then again, hitters are only at .167 against him with two down and runners in scoring position.

This all despite the fact that for his career, he’s a better two-out pitcher.

Here’s a statistic that I found intriguing: With no days rest, Durbin is throwing a 1.12 ERA. But with one day off, he’s at 4.38 in 12.1 innings. For his career, with one day off, he has a 5.46 ERA.

Inherited runners are 4-for-13 in scoring against him. Not bad.

While these numbers can’t give me a final truth about Durbin, it does tell me he’s better off starting innings and working with a clean slate. And it’s better to either use him on consecutive days, or every few days in the middle-relief role. Could he make a viable starter? Possibly, but his career 5.83 ERA and .291 AVG as a starter suggests middle relief pitching is more his suit.

Moreover, watching Durbin, I find he isn’t overpowering, nor does he have the stuff to completely baffle hitters. What makes Durbin good is his ability to throw pitches that don’t get him burned. He’ll walk a few batters, but he’ll throw strikes at varying speeds, throwing off timing and getting guys to swing into outs. He’s not the guy you want in there late in a game, nor is he a guy I would want dictating a start — Durbin is right where he should be, working the swing role, pitching the sixth and seventh innings and finding ways to get guys out.

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