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.


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