The Phillies two most notable question marks are Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. But there are other uncertainties.
Like in the back of the bullpen.
After a lights-out April, Jose Contreras was finished due to an elbow injury. The 40-year-old will start the season on the DL. Luckily, the Phillies signed an insurance policy in veteran Chad Qualls. He’ll be asked to provide a veteran presence to flank youngsters Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes.
Qualls, 33, has been an innings-eater over his career. He has thrown more than 70 innings in five of his eight seasons. He is 38-34 with a 3.78 ERA and 51 saves.
“I do what I have to do when I get out there,” Qualls said. “I’m a guy that you can rely on to go out there and get outs.”
Qualls, who signed a one-year, $1.15 million contract, has appeared in more games than any other major league pitcher since 2005.
“My job is to come in to pitch,” Qualls said. “I try to remain as healthy as possible to do what I have to do. I take pride in taking the ball every day. I deal with the fatigue and bumps and bruises. That’s all part of the game. It’s a long season and you need a guy who can go out there every day in the bullpen.”
Relievers are the most volatile part of a baseball team. And both Bastardo and Stutes are wild cards after fizzling down the stretch a year ago.
“Year to year you never know what’s going to happen with some guys in the ‘pen,” Qualls said. “You really need to have some guys that are like rocks there, who you can depend on.”