The Bullpen

A bit of clarity was added over the weekend with addition of set up man Mike Adams into the mix as the key 8th inning bridge to Papelbon.  Beyond Adams and Papelbon, the bullpen is filled with questions marks.  It seems the only relievers assured of Phillies roster spots are Papelbon, Adams, and Antonio Bastardo, who was less than solid last year.  After that, questions abound.

From the left side, Jeremy Horst is a front runner to land in back of Bastardo.  Horst was impressive during his second half call up to the Phils, throwing in 32 games and going 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Horst struck out 40 in 31.1 innings of work.

The health of Mike Stutes is the first question mark from the right side.  Recovering from significant surgery, Stutes may need some time in AAA before he reaches the level at which he pitched during the 2011 season for the Phils.  The rest of the pack consists of Justin DeFratus, Phillippe Aumont, Michael Schwimer, BJ Rosenberg, Raul Valdes, and Jacob Diekman.

From the above group DeFratus and Aumont seem to have the lead on two of the final spots in the bullpen.  Both were filthy in the minors, with Aumont less consistent than DeFratus, but slightly more filthy.  Each showed both promise and growing pains at times for the big club, but 2013 should present real opportunity for each to stick at the major league level.

The final spot will be an interesting race as to how the Phils want to round out their bullpen.  BJ Rosenberg was awful during his first several outings with the Phils, but settled down to show some promise towards the end of the season.  He could land as the front runner because of his ability to throw 2-3 innings if needed.  Having watched Rosenberg many times at Reading and Lehigh Valley over the past two seasons, Rosenberg does have the ability to be an effective, but not dominant (think Chad Durbin) major league reliever.  Raul Valdes, a veteran lefty was extremely effective for the Phils before getting injured mid season.  Valdes has the ability to throw multiple innings as well and has the built in advantage of throwing lefty.  With several off days at the beginning of the season, keeping Valdes in the bigs and allowing Rosenberg to stretch out his arm in Lehigh Valley may make some short term sense.

Last but not least (at least in my mind), is Michael Schwimer. While recognizing my admitted bias because I know and like Schwim, he showed significant potential at times as part of the bridge to Papelbon, throwing effectively in the 7th inning before his  much debated injury cropped up that ended his season.  Schwim says his arm wasn’t right.  The Phillies said his arm wasn’t injured enough for the DL.  In my mind at least, we must defer to the athlete as only he(she), knows how his body feels.  Knowing his level of competitiveness, it was killing Schwimer to be unable to compete as the year closed out, as several relievers made their impression on the Phillies.  I expect Schwimer to come out strong in the Spring. Success has the ability to make negative memories very short lived.

24 thoughts on “The Bullpen

  1. I’d like the pen to be

    CL: Papelbon
    SU: Adams
    7th: Bastardo/Aumont
    LOOGY: Horst
    MRP: DeFratus
    LRP: Stutes?

    Diekman and Schwimer to AAA

  2. Nice write-up Gregg

    It was my position since season’s end that the most critical need was a proven arm to fill the 8th inning. I even contended that this need was more critical than a center fielder, 3rd baseman or corner outfielder. Not to dismiss the latter, but the 8th inning was such an unmitigated disaster last year that I found if difficult to find a more pressing hole to address in the off-season. The fact that they filled this hole with Adams makes it even more satisfying for me as Adams was on top of my personal list.

    Paps, Adams and Bastardo is a very good start IMO and I would hardly be surprised if DeFratus finds himself partnering with Bastardo in the 7th inning by April’s end. I also think that Aumont showed enough last year that he will land a spot provided he avoids a meltdown next spring.

    So that’s Paps, Adams, Bastardo, DeFratus and Aumont, and like Aumont, I think Horst would also need to pitch himself out of a spot. The 7th spot in the pen appears to be wide open

    Obviously a lot could happen between now and April but I wouldn’t be surprised if the bullpen is an area of strength next year.

  3. Just knowing the division I would want (not sure if they all will have the springs to make it) Bastardo, Diekman, and Horst to make it. Bastardo has proven to be a solid bullpen piece, Diekman to me is the prototype LOOGY and with Heyward and Harper in the division I want that guy developing, and to me Horst with his good change up isn’t a LOOGY but rather he can get both sides out and is the perfect long reliever (you could say the same of Valdes, to me they are mostly interchangeable). I would figure Pap, Adams, and Aumont are locks and I would like to see Aumont in a swing role because he can go multiple innings but also he can get you the strike out or ground ball when you need it. That would leave Stutes and DeFratus to fight for the last spot. Now that pushes a lot of guys to AAA but there will be injuries and ineffectiveness and it would be nice to see them move guys up or down as needed since they are on the 40 man and there are many of them.

  4. I liked the Adams pickup not only for what the guy should bring to the table if he’s physically right, but because his presence really eases the pressure on Aumont, DeFratus, Diekman and to some extent Bastardo–four really talented arms. You never know with pitching, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the bullpen is the strength of the team in 2013.

  5. I love the Adams signing, I think BJ will be the long man and Horst pitched too good not to be back. It could be Defratus and Aumont winning the last two spots but Stutes and Schwimer have more experience and will compete. Over the course of the season, all the names mentioned will pitch at some point. Interestingly, if the Phils add another corner OF, someone will lose a roster spot. Either Ruf, Frandsen or the 7th reliever will lose his spot. Dom, Mayberry, Nix, Galvis and Humberto are safe to start the year.

    1. Before the Phillies traded Lindblom and Bonilla and signed Adams, it was becoming readily apparent to me that they almost have too many relievers. There’s not enough room for everyone. After the ST competition, some guys will either be traded or will land in AAA even though they probably belong in the majors. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if some guy who starts the year in AAA ends up being a key part of the team by the end of the year, much like Stutes and Worley in 2011. If I’m the Phillies, I do whatever I can to show case Bastardo if I think Diekman can grow into his job. Bastardo relies on having a certain amount of velocity (around 93) – if he’s even a few MPH too slow, he gets hit around. I just think, given his history of shoulder problems, his velocity is going to be inconsistent at best, as it was in the last two years. I’m for BJ as the 5th starter with Lannan serving as the long man/spot starter. Cloyd really has no place on this team as far as I can tell. God bless him for moving his career this far, but his stuff just isn’t good enough at this level.

    2. I would think Frandsen’s spot is safer than Galvis’s. I am not sure how many options Frandsen has left and they may want to get Galvis everyday at bats in AAA.

  6. Given his arm problems, I don’t think Adams can be regarded as a sure thing. Has he even passed his Phillies physical yet?

  7. I like Papelbon, Adams, Bastardo, DeFratus, Aumont, Horst. I think the 7th spot is wide open and to second Catch’s idea I would like to see Lannan as long man. However, I would like to see Pettibone win the 5th spot.

  8. I was just as impressed by Valdes last year as I was by Horst. Those 2 and Bastardo all can get out righties too, so I think the Phillies will keep those 3 lefties if they all have good springs. I think Schwimer and DeFratus will round out the righty portion of the bullpen.the top 7 to start the season. Stutes might still need time to recover from his surgery. Deikman and Aumont still need to show they can consistently throw strikes. Rosenberg and Savery still have chances to make the team with good springs. I am rooting for Cloyd to win the 5th starter battle with Lannan with the loser going to the Iron Pigs as the 6th starter, who will surely be needed at some time. If Rosenberg has a chance to be a starter, I hope he gets at least 10 starts at Lehigh Valley before coming to Philadelphia. I think all of the relievers mentioned, except Savery, will probably get their chances in the majors this season. If the Phillies get lucky and all of the relievers stay healthy this year and pitch as they can, the Phillies may be able to trade a reliever or 2 mid-season and fill a need or get a highly ranked positional prospect. Every year there seem to be teams desperate for relievers who overpay for them at the trading deadline. But more likely guys will go on the DL or be ineffective and the Phillies will rotate their top 11 relievers with none to spare.

  9. 5th starter competition will be between Lannan, Cloyd, Pettibone, and Rosenberg, likely finishing in that order. That then makes the long man competition between Cloyd, Rosenberg, and Pettibone, likely finishing in that order, with Rosenberg and Pettibone going to start at AAA.

    Closer and setup man are Papelbon and Adams, with Cloyd as long man, that leaves 4 spots, 2 for LHP and 2 for RHP. I believe Bastardo and Diekman make the team, with Horst and Valdes going to AAA. I also think Aumont and DeFratus make the team, with Stutes and Schwimer going to AAA.

    1. I think he’s going to get his chance in spring training. Knowing Ruben’s penchant for pitching, I think they believe that some of their in-house options are good.

      As for Rosenberg, one thing I know about Charlie (we know this from his comments to the press) is that he pays really close attention to radar gun readings. If a guy is down a mile or two per hour, Charlie knows that and is on top it. He also notices when a guy throws really hard and has good stuff. Surely, he must have noticed that in BJ’s October 2nd start, he was firing bullets. Through 4 innings (he only pitched 4 because he was not “stretched out” prior to the start with similarly long outings), Rosenberg’s fastball sat in the high 90s – he was generally sitting at 96 and 97, hitting 98. That’s some serious, serious heat. His breaking ball (a slider around 84-86 MPH) does break well, but he has to get it over a little more frequently. His change (reported on Game Day as being between 87-89 MPH – odd that it is faster than the slider) up is ok and he is working on it.

      Rosenberg has a chance to really rise through the ranks this year, but since he’s a little older folks aren’t paying attention and that’s understandable. But his ability is real and tantalizing. It sure as hell surprised me.

      1. I can see BJ as one day being a 7th.8th inning set-up guy. Just not yet sold on him starting and going 7 or through the lineup three times without being hit around a bit.

      2. Charlie specifically mentioned BJ as guy he was impressed with in two interviews I’ve seen this offseason.

  10. I want to see Papelbon, Adams, Bastardo, Aumont, DeFratus and Horst in the Bull-pen. It is absolutely necessary for Aumont to make the team, for this pen to be successful. I have no preference for the long man spot except that I prefer Cloyd, Schwimer, and Stutes in AAA and not on the Major League team. The 5th starter will, and should be, Lannan. Pettibone should be the 6th starter. Pettibone is 22, and hasn’t even pitched a full season in AAA.

    1. It’s necessary for Aumont to make the team for the ‘pen to be successful? What? Even if we assume everyone listed has identical numbers as they did last year, that’s a very solid ‘pen. And Adams and Bastardo are pretty good bounce-back candidates.

      I like Aumont as much as anyone, but if he’s in AAA to work on control/command, we’ll be just fine.

      1. I think it is necessary for Aumont to have success, in order for the entire bullpen as a whole to have success. He is not as important as Papelbon, Adams or Bastardo, but the team needs another RH pitcher, with major league pitches, to pitch the 7th inning (or 8th when Adams is not available). You may belive that De Fratus or Stutes is that guy, but I don’t know that De fratus has enough and I believe Stutes is nowhere near good enough to trust in that spot.

        1. Speaking of Stutes…has anyone heard of his medical progression since the surgery. I wonder where he is at the moment in his rehab.

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