Phillies Midseason Review: Bullpen

In our Midseason Review, we will grade out the entire Phillies team by position with each Phillies Nation blogger gives you his/her take on the season thus far. Here’s how we grade out the Phils bullpen:

Danys Baez:

-Two years, $5.25 million. That’s what Baez got before the season started. His 1.57 WHIP tells the story of how awful he has been. Rarely does he have a clean inning – he hasn’t had a clean appearance since May 27 – and Charlie Manuel has tried everything to boost his confidence, but nothing works. In short, he’s been a bust and cannot be counted on. (GRADE: D) -Pat Gallen

Baez has really become the face of a season where nothing goes right for the Phillies. FanGraphs tracks two stats for relievers called shutdowns and meltdowns, the former based on raising a team’s expected win probability and the latter on lowering it. Baez, over the past calendar year, is tied for the major league lead in meltdowns. This coming from a reliever who’s signed for multiple years at multiple millions of dollars and was expected to contribute in the later innings. (GRADE: D-) –Michael Baumann

Antonio Bastardo:

-Last year, fans were excited at the prospect of having Bastardo here an entire season as a lefty specialist in the pen. This year, he’s been another disappointment. While Bastardo is still just 24 years old, he’s another arm that cannot be counted upon. He’s currently on the DL with an elbow issue, too, which may have been part of the reason he’s struggled. (GRADE: D) -PG

Ok, so a 5.11 ERA and 9 walks and 2 hit batters in 12 1/3 innings don’t sound great. But there are mitigating factors for Tony Bastard. First, no one really expected much of him this year anyway. If Bastardo’s pitching high-leverage innings for the Phillies late this season, you can kiss a third straight pennant goodbye. He’s still got a great arm, and there will always be room for a lefty who can throw mid-90s with even mediocre off-speed stuff.  (GRADE: C)MB

Jose Contreras:

-Talk about a revelation. Contreras had pitched out of the bullpen just a handful of times before coming to the Phils this season, but has thrived in his new role. His ERA has ballooned as of late, especially due to his implosion against PIT, however, he’s been one of the lone bright spots in the ‘pen this year. Let’s hope he doesn’t burn out, since he’s never been a reliever for an extended period of time. (GRADE: A-) -PG

Second among Phillies relievers in K, ERA, K/BB, and xFIP. First in WHIP. One of the few dependable arms in a Phillies bullpen that’s seen its two best righties plagued by (alternately) injury, stupidity, and bad luck. Best old Cuban since Fidel Castro. (GRADE: A) -MB

Chad Durbin:

-Chad is always one of the most under-appreciated players on this team and before his unfortunate injury he was again a steady arm. His 3.31 ERA isn’t overly amazing yet he still manages to get outs when needed, when healthy. His 1.19 WHIP  is spectacular when compared to guys like Baez and Bastardo. Here’s hoping he gets back soon. (GRADE: B-)PG

-Durbin, who had a career year in 2008, was like a New Yorker without a car or MTA pass in 2009: walks everywhere. This season, he’s returned (somewhat unexpectedly) to his 2008 form. Durbin’s issuing fewer walks this season than at any point in his career, and most importantly, he’s continuing to miss bats while doing it. Opponents are hitting only .237 off him, and he’s still striking out 7.9 batters per 9 innings. Certainly not Mariano Rivera numbers, but until his injury, Durbin was a dependable middle innings guy, and I’ve been quite pleased with his performance. (GRADE: A-) -MB

Nelson Figueroa:

-For the short amount of time he has been in Philly, Figueroa has been an adequate reliever. When the Phils needed a spot starter earlier in the year, he jumped in. On the few occasions they’ve needed a multiple-inning guy, he’s done well. Can’t ask for much more out of your last bullpen guy who is basically a fill-in with all the injuries suffered. (GRADE: B-)PG

-At least the Phillies got something out of the Schilling trade. Figueroa’s been just fine in limited action–4.07 ERA, can eat up a few innings after a rain delay or start in a pinch. But if he starts pitching more and higher-leverage innings, my confidence in him might waver. (GRADE: C+)MB

David Herndon:

-The sinkerballer was a Spring Training revelation and quickly a fan fave the way he shut down batters. That hasn’t quite translated to the majors, although Herndon has shown flashes. His WHIP is quite high, however, he hasn’t allowed a run in his last six appearances, which is a great step forward for him. Herndon can’t go to the minors because of his Rule 5 status, so the Phils are stuck with his inconsistencies. (GRADE: C-) -PG

-I’ve been saying this about Herndon since March–he’s a right-handed pitcher who can’t strike people out and a 24-year-old who was drafted out of  high school and took 4 years to get to AA, where he wasn’t particularly impressive. But he actually hasn’t pitched that badly, all things considered. He’s gotten a lot of ground balls, kept a decent ERA despite giving up a huge BABIP, and doesn’t walk people. He’s the archetype of a AA or AAA player who’s spending a year in the majors to game the Rule V draft. Uncle Cholly’s kept him out of pressure situations so far, and there’s no reason he can’t make it as the 7th guy in the bullpen if that continues. (GRADE: C)MB

Brad Lidge:

-It’s certainly been a tale of two seasons for Lidge. He cruised through the first month of his season following his activation from the DL, but since his second stint, it’s been ugly. Six earned runs in his last five outings has shot his ERA in the five’s and has also cast more doubt over the shaky pen. They need Lidge to turn it around, and quickly. The tattered bullpen can ill afford to have its anchor in ruins again. (GRADE: C-) -PG

-I’m sure I’ll get crucified for saying this, but I’ve been quite pleased with him this season. He’s got a 5.25 ERA, sure, but he’s been plagued by an unsustainably high HR/FB rate (double the league average), and his xFIP is 2.90. He’s got the confidence in his slider back, which he didn’t have last year, and he’s throwing his fastball (yes, he can still hit the mid-90s, but with no movement high in the zone, it’s just about useless as an out pitch anymore) less than he ever has. We’ll see that ERA come down and the saves continue to pile up. Unless he gets hurt again, the worst is over. (GRADE: B-)MB

Ryan Madson:

-He’s played in only nine games, but in those nine, he has to get a failing grade because, A. He gave up seven earned runs in just nine innings and, B. He broke his foot on a chair. Madson is supposed to be one of the best in the NL at his craft but between injuries and a poor start to his season, he’s not passing. (GRADE: F) -PG

-In just nine innings, Madson allowed seven earned runs and blew two saves. HOWEVER, Madson, to a certain extent, was undone by BABIP, which has been to Phillies pitchers what the Plague of Locusts was to Ramses II. In that vein, Madson’s BABIP was a biblically bad .417 in his first nine appearances. His xFIP (which normalizes BABIP and HR/FB rate) is a much more palatable 2.83. With that said, if you’re dumb enough to break your foot kicking something, you deserve to spend a couple months standing in the  corner and thinking about your actions. What a nimrod. (GRADE: F)MB

J.C. Romero:

-He’s another of those who were/are wounded. It has really taken J.C. a while to get adjusted after offseason elbow surgery, which made Manuel reluctant to use him in the early stages. His 1.50 WHIP is extremely high, his .199 batting average against is very good, and his K/BB ratio of .92 is bad. Romero is lacking consistency, as is much of the bullpen. Romero, however, is a high-priced, integral piece that needs to step up with Lidge and Madson. He hasn’t yet. (GRADE: C+) -PG

Romero has produced a year that proved that his first year-plus in Philly wasn’t the product of the CVS Mystery Powder he was taking. In 2009, we witnessed a paucity of pitching prowess from the pugnacious Puerto Rican pitcher. But in 2010, Romero has returned to form. While effective, he hasn’t been perfect. You know what you’re going to get with Romero–he gets lefties out and walks righties (9 of the 37 right-handed batters Romero’s faced have walked, for a ratio of 11 BB/9 IP). So far, that’s been the case. (GRADE: B-)MB

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