With the addition of Mike Adams, a solid, veteran relief pitcher who has been one of the best in the game for a few years, at the back end of the bullpen, things are looking up for the Phillies.
In the first half of last season, Charlie Manuel was doing all he could to find the best bridge to Papelbon, and it wasn’t working. Now, adding Adams to the mix of talented, youthful arms, and the steady force of Papelbon, could make this one of the best bullpens in the National League.
Could it be THE best?
It’s unlikely to be, but they have a shot. Of course, so much hinges on the youngsters. However, more hinges on the fact that the Braves have strengthened their pen. They added Jordan Walden in a deal with the LA Angels, dealing starter Tommy Hanson. Walden will join the already loaded back-end that features Eric O’Flaherty, Johnny Venters, and the unhittable Craig Kimbrel.
Depending on what they do with Aroldis Chapman, the Reds bullpen could still be one of the finest.
Last year, after that ugly first half, the Phillies relief pitchers settled down and finished 10th in the NL in ERA at 3.94, but a very respectable 5th in batting average against at .231.
A lot of pressure will weigh on guys like Aumont and De Fratus to continue their maturation. But with guys like Adams and Papelbon anchoring the ship, it should absolutely be a more fruitful 2013 in the late innings.