Results tagged ‘ bullpen ’

Halladay Battles, Wins

You realize once again just how good Roy Halladay is, watching him grind through the heat and humidity today in seven innings at Nationals Park.

Halladay allowed three home runs, but each one was a solo shot.

Halladay is around the strike zone a lot, so he will give up his share of hits. But because he is around the strike zone a lot, he rarely walks anybody, which means it is a rare moment when he gives up those crushing two, three or four-run homers. Those homers didn’t kill him today.

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ESPN’s Buster Olney had an interesting look at the usage of National League bullpens. If you’re not an ESPN Insider, here’s the gist: the Phillies could have a fresh bullpen late in the season. The Phillies’ bullpen ranks 15th in the league in innings pitched. Another reason to appreciate the Phillies’ rotation.

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Smoother Road Ahead?

I wrote earlier this month about a tough 20-game stretch for the Phillies against teams with winning records:

  • 3 vs. Atlanta
  • 3 at Florida
  • 3 at Atlanta
  • 2 at St. Louis
  • 2 vs. Colorado
  • 3 vs. Texas
  • 4 vs. Cincinnati

So how’d they do? They survived. They went 10-10. The Phillies scored three or fewer runs in 14 of those games, including a stretch of nine consecutive games of three or fewer runs and a season-high four-game losing streak. They hit just .222 with a .286 on-base percentage and a .351 slugging percentage in that 20-game span. They averaged just 3.3 runs per game. They had a 3.06 ERA as a team, including a 3.37 ERA in the rotation and a 2.37 ERA in the bullpen.

I suppose there are two ways to look at it. The offense played about as poorly as it can play and the Phillies still broke even. Or the offense played poorly against good competition, which should give it flashbacks to the 2010 NLCS against San Francisco.

Whatever you think, the Phillies have an opportunity to really distance themselves in the next few weeks. They play 16 consecutive games against teams with losing records: three at New York, three at Washington, three at Pittsburgh, three vs. Los Angeles and four vs. Chicago.

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Who’s In, Who’s Out When Contreras, Lidge Are Back?

Before the season started the Phillies had their seventh, eighth and ninth inning relievers aligned like this:

  • Jose Contreras in the seventh.
  • Ryan Madson in the eighth.
  • Brad Lidge in the ninth.

But because of injuries to Lidge and Contreras, the Phillies have adjusted. They’ve used Danys Baez, Kyle Kendrick, J.C. Romero and others in critical late-inning situations. In last night’s 5-4 victory over the Braves, the Phillies went young. Michael Stutes, Antonio Bastardo and Vance Worley picked up big outs in the seventh and eighth innings.

“I think I put them in the fire, didn’t I?” Charlie Manuel said after the game.

Contreras could be back in roughly a week, although that remains to be seen. Lidge has said he’s hopeful he could be back before the end of June. It will be interesting to see how the bullpen lines up upon their return. Who stays? Who goes? Worley has done an excellent job, but it’s probably in the team’s s best interest to eventually send him back to Triple-A to start. (Ruben Amaro Jr. said as much recently.) They need him stretched out in case something happens to another starter. Roy Oswalt already has missed time because of a bad back and Joe Blanton already has missed time because of soreness in his right elbow (he still has discomfort in the elbow). It doesn’t make much sense to have the team’s No. 6 and 7 starters (Kendrick and Worley) both pitching in the bullpen.

Scott Mathieson or Vance Worley could be optioned Tuesday when the Phillies activate Oswalt from the DL. The other could be optioned when the Phillies activate Contreras. But what happens when Lidge returns? If Worley and Mathieson are optioned at some point and everybody is healthy, the bullpen would look like this: Baez, Bastardo, Contreras, Kendrick, Madson, Romero and Stutes.

Now it gets interesting. Bastardo, Contreras, Madson and Romero appear safe. The Phillies need a long man, which is Kendrick. That would leave Baez and Stutes. Baez has had his struggles, but is a veteran making $2.75 million. Stutes has options, but has been impressive in limited action. Fortunately for the Phillies the decision does not need to be made today. If Baez is pitching well when Lidge returns I think he stays. But if he’s not pitching well he could be in trouble — unless Stutes himself is struggling.

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A Younger, Inexperienced Bullpen

I’m sitting in the San Diego airport, getting ready to take the red eye back to Philadelphia. I won’t be in Arizona this week, so you might see fewer posts and tweets until I return Friday. But I figure I should post before I leave because I’ll be out of commission tomorrow.

The biggest thing to happen this weekend — besides the Phillies sweeping the Padres — is Jose Contreras landing on the DL.

The bullpen is 5-2 with a 2.24 ERA this season. Phillies relievers have allowed just one home run and opponents have hit just .210 against them.

It will be interesting to see how they hold up without Contreras. The Phillies’ bullpen looks like this: Ryan Madson, Antonio Bastardo, Danys Baez, Kyle Kendrick, David Herndon, Michael Stutes and Mike Zagurski. Those seven entered the season with a combined 1,005 relief appearances. The projected bullpen on Opening Day had a combined 2,180 relief appearances with Brad Lidge, J.C. Romero, Contreras, Madson, Baez, Kendrick and Bastardo.

This bullpen got young and inexperienced in a hurry.

I’m more than a little curious to see how Stutes pitches. Phillies personnel really liked him in Spring Training. They liked his stuff, but they loved his makeup. He’s got heart.

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When everybody is healthy, we know Lidge, Madson and Contreras can close if Lidge is unavailable. But who closes now if Madson needs a day off? Bastardo got the save today. He’s got great stuff. It might be him.

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The Phillies have not scored more than four runs in 13 consecutive games. They have hit .207/.280/.303 in that span. That is bad, but it’s got to improve. Just like Phillies hitters weren’t that good the first eight games of the season, they’re not this bad in the last 13. … John Mayberry Jr. deserves more playing time. I’m not saying he’s going to save the offense, but it can’t hurt to play him when Raul Ibanez is struggling. … Lots of Phillies fans in San Diego this weekend. If you’re looking to make a Phillies’ road trip in the future, San Diego is highly recommended. My top five Got-To-See-In-The-National-League ballparks: Wrigley Field, AT&T Park, Dodger Stadium, PETCO Park and PNC Park. … Thanks for the restaurant suggestions to those who sent them. Had peanut butter and banana stuffed French toast at Cafe 222 and a good lunch later in the week at Tin Fish. Two thumbs up.

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You See Something New Every Day at the Old Ball Yard


manuel 0503 2010.jpgCharlie Manuel
sounded very certain yesterday afternoon that Brad Lidge needed to pitch a few more times in non-save situations before he resumed closing duties.

It sounded last night like he had a sudden change of heart.

Lidge allowed one hit and struck out two during last night’s 6-3 loss to the Cardinals. Lidge looked sharp, sharp enough that Lidge could be closing as early as tonight.

“Yeah, he looked ready,” Manuel said.

Maybe he just feels he needs to line up his bullpen ASAP. With runners on first and second and two outs in the seventh inning, the Phillies had Nelson Figueroa replace Joe Blanton. Figueroa allowed Blanton’s runners to score, plus two more, to turn a 2-1 game into a 6-1 game.

If everything had worked the way Manuel had hoped it would work before the season started, the Phillies would have asked Danys Baez, Jose Contreras, Chad Durbin or J.C. Romero to pitch the seventh. But with Ryan Madson hurt, Durbin unavailable after pitching two innings Sunday, Baez struggling and only having pitched once previously in consecutive games this season and Manuel trying to ease Lidge and Romero back following offseason elbow surgeries, he felt he had no other options.

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Thumbnail image for taser.jpgJust before the game a few beat writers were discussing the baseball cliche that you see something new during every baseball game.

Well, it turns out we really did this time. A Philadelphia police officer Tased a fan who ran onto the field before the eighth inning. The kid seemed to be running around and waving a towel, but police took no chances. In fact, neither did Jayson Werth. He readied himself for a possible altercation when the fan jumped onto the field near right field, but the fan quickly darted past him before being takent down in left.

The Phillies said in a statement: “This is the first time that a Taser gun has been used by Philadelphia police to apprehend a field jumper. The Police Department is investigating this matter and the Phillies are discussing with them whether in future situations this is an appropriate use of force under these circumstances. That decision will be made public.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the fan has been charged as a juvenile with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and defiant trespass. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsay defended the officer’s decision to Taser the juvenile.

“It was inappropriate for him to be out there on the field,” Ramsay told KYW Radio (1060-AM). “Unless I read something to the contrary, that officer acted appropriately. I support him 100 percent.”

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Chase Utley‘s solo homer off Trever Miller in the ninth was his fifth homer this season against a lefty, which leads the Nationa League. … Ryan Howard‘s 30-game on-base streak against the Cardinals was snapped. He went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Amaro on Pitching Staff, Moyer and Kendrick


Thumbnail image for amaro.jpgRuben Amaro Jr.
answered a couple questions before they got asked yesterday morning at Bright House Field:

“No, we haven’t made any final decisions on our pitching staff or rotation.

“Yes, we’re still looking in other ways to improve our club.”

The Phillies optioned Mike Zagurski on Monday. It left the Phillies with 12 healthy pitchers in camp, a strong indication those are the 12 pitchers they will carry into the season until Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero are back. Amaro won’t say anything is official because the chance always exists they could make a deal before April 5, unlikely as it might be.

One roadblock to any deal is the Phillies appear to have exceeded their payroll budget, which is approaching $140 million. They’re simply not in position to add payroll. The second roadblock is that everybody in baseball is looking for pitching right now, so it’s not like teams are eager to trade a quality bullpen arm.

If the Phillies stand pat, there is just one roster decision: Jamie Moyer or Kyle Kendrick for the fifth job in the rotation?

“They’ve both doing very well,” Amaro said. “Obviously, competition is a good thing. The fact that they’re pitching well, I think it can only bode well for the club.”

Kendrick has a 1.29 ERA in four Grapefruit League appearances. Moyer has a 3.86 ERA in one Grapefruit League start and three B game starts. If those numbers hold – they could change dramatically before the Phillies break camp – it would appear on paper that Kendrick had outperformed Moyer, right?

“I don’t evaluate the numbers, especially in Spring Training,” Amaro said. “That’s not how we evaluate. We have to evaluate what’s going to be best overall for our club, and how they’re getting people out and those sorts of things. It’s still kind of a complicated decision to make. Hopefully we’ll make the right one.

“Look at what we did last year. Chan Ho Park probably pitched better than J.A. Happ. Ultimately, was that the right decision to start those guys in those roles? Probably not. That’s why they were flipped. We ended up being a better club as a result of it.”

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Thanks to 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli for having me on his show yesterday at the Tiki Pavilion, where we talked about the Phillies and my book. Thanks as always to WIP’s Angelo Cataldi and The Morning Team, which had me on this morning. They even gave me a little “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” music at the end of my segment.

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The Fightins is giving away a copy of my book, if you enter their NCAA tournament Sweet 16 pool.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Wasserman, Tracy Reassigned

The Phillies announced this morning they have reassigned right-hander Ehren Wasserman and infielder Andy Tracy to Minor League camp.

That basically seals the Phillies’ bullpen, which I explained yesterday.

An update: The Phillies have just seven healthy relief pitchers in camp for seven bullpen jobs: right-handers Danys Baez, Jose Contreras, Chad Durbin, David Herndon and Ryan Madson, and left-handers Antonio Bastardo and Mike Zagurski.

Zagurski has pitched just once this spring and is not scheduled to pitch in a Grapefruit League game through March 27. He is listed as a backup, meaning he will pitch if a pitcher is knocked out early or the game goes into extra innings. Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero are expected to open the season on the DL. They would not be eligible to pitch until April 10 in Houston.

The Phillies maintain they are not looking for outside help, which means the Opening Day bullpen could be Baez, Contreras, Durbin, Herndon, Madson, Bastardo and the loser for the fifth starter’s job — Kyle Kendrick or Jamie Moyer.

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Beerleaguer has a few of my books “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” to give away. Check it out! … The Good Phight also has a few give aways!

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Bullpen Picture Becomes Clearer

Thumbnail image for bastardo.jpgThe Phillies still have time to finalize their bullpen, but the picture got clearer today.

They optioned left-hander Sergio Escalona to the Minor Leagues, which leaves just eight healthy relief pitchers in big-league camp for the seven-man bullpen: right-handers Danys Baez, Jose Contreras, Chad Durbin, David Herndon, Ryan Madson and Ehren Wasserman, and left-handers Antonio Bastardo and Mike Zagurski.

Closer Brad Lidge and left-hander J.C. Romero are expected to open the season on the disabled list. They would not be eligible to pitch until April 10 in Houston.

Baez, Contreras, Durbin and Madson are locks to make the bullpen. Bastardo and Herndon, a Rule 5 Draft pick, seem to have the inside track for two spots. Bastardo would give the Phillies at least one left-hander while Romero recovers from offseason elbow surgery. Herndon has allowed just one hit in five scoreless innings in four Grapefruit League appearances. The Phillies need to keep Herndon on the 25-man roster or offer him back to the Angels. That gives them incentive to keep him.

If Bastardo and Herndon take two vacancies the pitcher who loses the competition for the fifth starter’s job – left-hander Jamie Moyer or right-hander Kyle Kendrick - is a smart bet to take the third.

Both Moyer and Kendrick pitched effectively in the bullpen last season. The Phillies have said Kendrick must beat out Moyer for the job, and so far he has pitched well. He allowed two runs in five innings tonight against the Orioles, and has a 1.29 ERA in four spring appearances. But will it be enough to supplant Moyer, who has 258 career wins and an $8 million salary? Moyer makes his first Grapefruit League appearance Sunday against the Orioles.

One scenario has Moyer opening the season in the rotation and Kendrick opening the season in the bullpen. If Moyer pitches well he remains the starter. If he does not, Kendrick and Moyer flip roles like Chan Ho Park and J.A. Happ did last season.

Of course, Zagurski and Wasserman both remain in camp and Charlie Manuel said today that if a player is in camp he remains a candidate for a job. But the Phillies have said a few times this spring that Zagurski, who missed the entire 2008 season recovering from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, needs more innings. Zagurski has thrown two scoreless innings in one Grapefruit League appearance. Wasserman, who is 2-3 with a 5.07 ERA in 57 appearances in his Major League career, has allowed just two hits in four scoreless innings in three Grapefruit League appearances, including a scoreless inning tonight.

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Manuel Drops Hints about the Bullpen

Thumbnail image for happ 0720.jpgIt seems likely the Phillies take 13 position players and 12 pitchers into the postseason.

If there are just 13 position players they will be catchers Carlos Ruiz and Paul Bako; infielders Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Pedro Feliz, Jimmy Rollins, Greg Dobbs and Eric Bruntlett; and outfielders Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Ben Francisco and Matt Stairs.

The pitching staff is not nearly as easy to call, but Charlie Manuel dropped a few hints today.

Expect left-handers Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee and right-hander Joe Blanton to be in the rotation. No surprise there. The fourth starter will be left-hander J.A. Happ or right-hander Pedro Martinez. Happ is 12-4 with a 2.85 ERA, while Martinez is 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA. Happ deserves to start, but the Phillies are short in the bullpen with injuries to left-handers J.C. Romero and Jamie Moyer and right-hander Chan Ho Park. Manuel said they could use Happ in the bullpen early in the NLDS, but still have him start if he only throws an inning in those first couple games.

“I’m not saying we’re going to do that, but that does enter my mind,” Manuel said.

That would leave 10 pitchers competing for seven remaining bullpen spots: Antonio Bastardo, Clay Condrey, Chad Durbin, Sergio Escalona, Scott Eyre, Kyle Kendrick, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Brett Myers and Tyler Walker. Bastardo got recalled today, and he’s not here for the heck of it. He could make a good enough impression today or tomorrow to work his way onto the postseason roster, despite not pitching since June 25. (That shows just how shaky the bullpen is.)

Eyre and Myers both have battled injuries this month, but Manuel sounded like if they finish the season healthy they will be on the postseason roster.

“I think Scott Eyre definitely could pitch on lefties,” Manuel said. “I think Brett Myers has all the experience in the world. If he can go, I think he can help us in the bullpen because he’s done that.”

Is the closer Madson or Lidge?

“You’ve got Madson and you’ve got Brad,” Manuel said. “I’ve heard people talk. I’ve heard people say instead of using Brad use somebody else. But who else out there would you want on the mound if you were going to win or lose a game? Who would you want? Take your pick. I always get back to Lidge. I’ve got Madson and Lidge in there. Madson probably would be the guy I would go to today to win the game. But there’s going to come a point where Lidge is going to have to pitch and do the job.”

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The Phillies have clinched home-field advantage in the NLDS with St. Louis losing today to the Brewers.

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So There's No Rose Ceremony?


bullpen.jpgPhillies relievers are about to become reality TV stars.

OK, not reality stars like Flavor Flav or Vern Troyer(and thank God for that). But MLB Productions has been in Clearwater for the past week, shooting the debut episode of The Pen, an inside look at the Phillies’ bullpen. It is MLB Network’s first original programming, and it is scheduled to debut June 1.

There will be six episodes through the all-star break.

“I think it’ll be pretty neat,” Clay Condrey said.

You’ll probably become a star, Clay.

“I ain’t no star,” he said.

The program is expected to give fans an inside look at how a bullpen operates (i.e. how individual relief pitchers work as a team). There also will be off-the-field footage to give fans a feel for what these guys are like.

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