Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
Led by closer Jonathan Papelbon for the third season now, the Phillies' bullpen will need some vast improvement heading into 2014. As one of baseball's worst in 2013, this relief corps has only received some slight alterations, so the Phillies are hoping their patience pays off. Here is the Opening Day bullpen prediction in addition to each reliever's stats.
Jonathan Papelbon: Decreased velocity on his fastball and vocal team concerns overshadowed Papelbon in 2013. He blew five saves in a span of six opportunities back in June and July, and it was part of the reason why the Phillies ended up fourth in the NL East. His lack of save opportunities didn't help either, as 2013 was his first full season in which he fell shy of the 30-save plateau. Papelbon should be slightly better in 2014, pitching to a 2.57 ERA and posting 34 saves.
Mike Adams: The Phillies' premier signing of the 2012-13 offseason, Adams' career in Philadelphia has been a bust after year one of the deal. Recovering from Thoracic Outlet Surgery, it was clear that Adams was not himself from day one and was potentially brought along too quickly. He hit the disabled list in May and never returned. While he's expected to return in early 2014, if not by Opening Day, it’ll take some time to reacclimate before being effective again. Adams' ERA should hover around 3.70.
Brad Lincoln: Acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays for catcher Erik Kratz and pitcher Rob Rasmussen, Lincoln could turn some heads with a nice season. Once the fourth-overall pick in the MLB draft, Lincoln has pitched effectively as a swingman, though he's best suited to relieve after doing so for Toronto over the last two years. He could prove to be a good right-handed setup man, but what the biggest issue is that the short fences at CBP could be an issue. Lincoln's ERA should be around the 4.00 area at worst, 3.50 at best, though he's a slight reclamation project for the Phillies.
Antonio Bastardo: Coming off the heels of a 50-game suspension, Bastardo will have to show that he's not rusty and can remain effective in the majors. He shouldn't have any problems doing so and will remain the top southpaw option in the Phillies' bullpen. Bastardo could have the best ERA out of any Phillies reliever, and he'll have a semi-breakout year in 2014 with a 2.42 ERA.
Jake Diekman: He had a solid 2013 and should have an even better 2014. Although his delivery is unorthodox and can easily lead to a bad inning, Diekman's windup has also confused and distracted hitters, which has led to strikeouts. Diekman will pitch to a 3.40 ERA this year.
Justin De Fratus: Once hailed as the Phillies' next great reliever, De Fratus has overcome injuries and ineffectiveness to turn into one of the Phillies' bright young relievers. Although he's still got to earn his place in the bullpen, De Fratus has what it takes to do just that. His ERA should decrease to the 3.25 range in 2014.
Michael Stutes: Now somewhat of an afterthought, Stutes was once one of the Phillies' best relievers, but he can't seem to stay healthy. Fortunately for him, his other competition shares that distinction. If Stutes makes the roster—which is far from a guarantee—his ERA will be close to 3.65.