On July 17, the Philadelphia Phillies' bullpen was at full strength for the first time all season.
Earlier in the season, J.C. Romero had spent 50-games suspended, closer Brad Lidge was placed on the disabled list for a few weeks in June, and relievers Clay Condrey and Scott Eyre were on the shelf for a period of time.
The bullpen that was so successful in 2008 pitched with that same effectiveness for the six days they were reuinited, yet three recent additions to the DL have the team scrambling for much needed help.
J.C. Romero, Chad Dubrin, and Clay Condrey were the most recent victims of the injury bug after the were placed on the 15-day DL this past week. Andrew Carpenter and Tyler Walker were called up to fill the bullpen's holes.
While Chan Ho Park and Ryan Madson continue to pitch well, the current challenges the bullpen faces will test their overall depth and talent.
The issue causing the most concern begins with the closer, Brad Lidge.
Lidge appears unable to solve the inconsistencies he has faced this season. He has yet to find any sort of groove, which is key for his mindset when closing games.
With nearly half of the regular bullpen not among the active relievers, there will be more situations when Lidge will be called on to pitch, especially in tied and one-run games. Pulling himself together will be key for the Phillies, especially in the long run.
Hopefully, the trio of Condrey, Durbin, and Romero can regain their health shortly after they become eligible to return to help solidify the bullpen.
Durbin has been inconsistent of late, which is likely due to his injury, but Condrey and Romero have been impressive in their appearances. Their return, along with whether they can stay healthy, will prove to be crucial if the Phillies want to run away with the National League East.
In other news, the Phillies reportedly told the Blue Jays that the asking price for Roy Halladay was more than they were willing to pay. A trade for the former Cy Young Award winner seems less likely with each day that goes by.
The Phillies are still in need of an additional starting pitcher, so a trade for Cliff Lee or Jarrod Washburn is a possibility.
If Lee or Washburn are not attainable, it is almost certain that another pitcher will be brought in. The market isn't full of worthy trading pieces, but someone is going to have to be traded for.
Whether it's a Joe Blanton-type trade or a CC Sabathia-type trade, the Phillies will need to equip themselves with one more quality pitcher to insert into the rotation.