Phillies Need Relief
The Phillies offense has been the focus since the beginning of the season, and it played a role in last night’s 7-4 loss to the Mets. The offense scored its runs in the first two innings, but shut down the engines and barely made a noise the rest of the night.
That seems to happen often.
But it’s the bullpen that is this team’s Achilles heel right now. It has been absolutely dreadful.
Phillies relievers had a 2.01 ERA in 14 appearances through April 20. They have a 6.97 ERA in 16 appearances since.
Not only are they blowing leads, but they are unable to keep the game close. Michael Schwimer and Joe Savery combined to allow two runs to score in the ninth, turning a 5-4 deficit into a 7-4 deficit. I know players like to say nothing affects them, but it certainly takes the wind out of their sails when they go from thinking they need to score only one run to tie the game to thinking they need to score three runs to tie the game.
How are they supposed to get to Jonathan Papelbon right now? That’s the big question with no obvious answer. Chad Qualls seemed like that guy early in the season, but he blew his third save last night and has an 8.31 ERA in six appearances dating to April 24. The Phillies signed him to a $1.15 million contract to provide stability in the late innings, but he has only added to the instability and misery lately. Antonio Bastardo is throwing the ball a bit better. He might start getting more looks in the setup role. The other options right now are Jose Contreras (8.53 ERA in 8 appearances), Kyle Kendrick (1.93 ERA in four relief appearances), Brian Sanches (12.00 ERA in two appearances), Savery (4.50 ERA in eight appearances) and Schwimer (8.53 ERA in five appearances).
One of those guys will be gone before tonight’s game because the Phillies are activating Cliff Lee from the disabled list. But Charlie Manuel indicated they are looking elsewhere for help. Left-hander Jake Diekman is 1-0 with a 0.63 ERA in 12 appearances with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In 14 1/3 innings, he has allowed 13 hits, 1 run, 3 walks and has struck out 22. That is a 7.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Now, it goes without saying Triple-A numbers do not always translate into success. Schwimer had a 1.04 ERA in seven appearances before he got called up. But the Phillies loved Diekman during spring training and think he could be a stud in the bullpen at some point.
Maybe it’s time to give him a look. The Phillies can’t stand pat forever. They need to start winning games. If they lose tonight they fall four games under .500 for the first time since May 9, 2007.
I thought last night was the perfect moment to talk to the team, but Manuel didn’t want to. He said he doesn’t know what to say.
“I’ve wanted to talk to them,” Manuel said. “I wanted to talk to them in San Diego. But right now at this point I don’t really know what to say to them. That’s kind of how I feel. I mean, I’m going to talk to them. I might go over and talk to them right now. I don’t know. But sooner or later I will talk to them. But right now I don’t know what I want to say.”
Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:
- Thursday: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.
- June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
- June 16: Barnes & Noble, 4801 Concord Pike, Wilmington, Del., 2:00 p.m.