Last season the Phillies used Chad Durbin in a number of spots. In his first eight appearances of 2008, Durbin was used in the seventh-to-eighth innings in high-pressure spots (4), the early innings as a long reliever (2) and the ninth inning in close situations (2). He was very effective, tabulating a 0.75 ERA out of the gate.
This season Durbin has been used in a late-innings role, mainly because of JC Romero’s 50-game suspension. While he has struggled to keep teams scoreless (he’s given up a run in half his outings), it’s Clay Condrey who is taking the reigns in the swingman role.
In Condrey’s six appearances, he’s kept teams scoreless five times. He’s been used mainly in the seventh inning, sometimes for mop-up work, but mostly for tight-pressure hold work. Twice he was used in close, ninth-inning situations, including yesterday. Handed a one-run deficit, Condrey had to keep the Padres off the scoreboard and give his offense a chance at a late win. He allowed a tough single to David Eckstein, then induced the double play from Jody Gerut and got Edgar Gonzalez to fly out. Two batters later, the Phils took the game on a Raul Ibanez home run.
Early this season, the Phils bullpen has had their share of bumps in the road. Durbin hasn’t been very effective; Ryan Madson’s last two outings were bad; Brad Lidge has even showed scars. But Condrey has been one very consistent arm, and one that’s becoming increasingly reliable as his career continues. Once a journeyman mop-up guy, Condrey is suddenly the most valuable commodity in the bullpen. He’s coming up huge in unnoticed spots.