After the Phillies’ 2010 season ended abruptly at the hands of San Francisco, GM Ruben Amaro indicated the team would bolster the bullpen in his postseason press conference.
Well, after the Phillies surprised the baseball world by signing prized free agent Cliff Lee for $120 million, that idea went out the window. It appeared that the Phillies’ four aces would be followed by a pedestrian pen.
“I still think this bullpen has the chance to become something special,” closer Brad Lidge said during spring training.
Then, Lidge went down with a right shoulder sprain and may not be back until the All-Star break. Jose Contreras inherited Lidge’s role and recorded five saves without giving up a run before hitting the DL. J.C. Romero was on the DL for 15 days and, after some terrible appearances, David Herndon was sent to the minors.
Sounds like a recipe for disaster. However, the Phillies’ bullpen has been rock solid. Ryan Madson has been phenomenal, in his contract year.
“I think some people didn’t give the bullpen enough credit,” Madson said. “I think we’ve done a really good job considering the injuries. Everybody has stepped up.”
Antonio Bastardo, who was a question mark coming into camp, might be the most pleasant surprise. Bastardo (2-0, 1.26 ERA, 21 K’s) struck out six Braves in a row in an April game. Kyle Kendrick has a 1.83 ERA and rookie Michael Stutes has impressed.
“Our bullpen has helped win us some games,” pitching coach Rich Dubee said. “We wouldn’t have the record we have without them.”