Phillies Pitching Success Runs Deeper Than Four Aces
Although it’s hard to believe at times, the Phillies' pitching staff consists of more than just Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.
A combined 29 wins, 2.59 ERA, 369 strikeouts, 11 complete games and an opponent batting average of .228 is enough to give the Phillies three of the game’s best pitchers through the first half of the season.
However, the success of the Phillies’ pitching staff is being enjoyed by more than just these three pitchers. With injuries to five members of the team’s bullpen, a fair share of innings have been up for grabs all season long.
So far, there have been no shortage of takers.
The Vanimal Has Solidified His Spot in the Rotation
At season’s start, all attention surrounding the Phillies’ rotation revolved around R2C2 (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels). Along with fifth starter Joe Blanton, the Phillies were projected to have one of the greatest starting rotations in league history. However, with injuries to Oswalt and Blanton, the Phillies’ rotation has had two openings for starting pitchers to prove themselves.
In stepped a mohawk-sporting, glasses-wearing minor leaguer by the name of Vance Worley.
The Vanimal pitched six shutout innings in his season debut on April 29 against the Mets, and has since gone on to compile a 4-1 record with a 2.20 ERA along with 37 strikeouts in 49 innings pitched this season.
In his last four starts, Worley has acquired a 2-0 record while striking out 18 in 25 innings; this includes a five strikeout, one earned run performance against the Boston Red Sox.
Most importantly, the Phillies have won the last four games the Vanimal has pitched.
Stutes Has Yet to Relinquish the Set-Up Role This Season
Seven minor league appearances was all it took for the Phillies to promote right-hander Michael Stutes.
A 1.80 triple-A ERA along with 14 strikeouts in 10 innings was enough for the Phillies to make the call before the season’s first month was finished.
Stutes has not looked back since.
In 29 games with the Phillies, Stutes has managed 28 strikeouts while walking just 15 batters in 27.1 innings pitched.
With Brad Lidge yet to pitch this season and Jose Contreras currently on his second stint on the D.L., the Phillies have relied on Stutes to perform in a set-up role all season.
With a 2.63 ERA and six holds, Stutes has done just that for the Phils.
Bastardo's Versatility Has Saved the Phils a Great Number of Headaches
If someone would have told Charlie Manuel in spring training that he’d need four different closers before the All-Star break, chances are his smile would have faded very quickly.
However, with Antonio Bastardo, the Phillies have not skipped a beat.
Between seven holds and five saves, Bastardo has proven his versatility in a dominant Phillies pitching staff.
The left-hander currently has a 0.87 ERA along with 35 strikeouts in 34 games this season. He also has a 3-0 record to go along with only 14 walks and two earned runs in 31 innings.
Bastardo is currently serving as the Phils’ closer, pitching in place of the injured Ryan Madson, who was pitching in place of the injured Jose Contreras, who was pitching in place of the injured Brad Lidge.
Go ahead, take a few seconds.
Converting 15 of 16 Save Opportunities Has Given Madson the Closer's Role
Although currently on the disabled list, right-hander Ryan Madson’s importance to the Phillies this season may be the greatest of the entire pitching staff.
While filling in for the injured Brad Lidge (who has missed the entire season but is set to begin a minor league rehab assignment), Madson has converted 15-of-16 save opportunities while striking out 34 batters in 31 innings.
His 2.03 ERA had him on pace for a possible All-Star selection before a hand injury sent him to the disabled list.
Prior to this season, Madson had 20 career saves to go along with 24 blown opportunities. This season’s breakthrough has not only helped the Phillies, but also the free agent-to-be, Madson.
Phillies Bullpen Has a Minor League Feel to It Through First Half of the Season
If the Phillies’ bullpen has a minor league feel to it through the first half of the season, that’s because seven players have split time between the Phillies pen and their triple-A affiliate Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. This does not include Worley, a starter who has split time, bringing the total number to eight.
David Herndon, Drew Carpenter, Juan Perez, Scott Mathieson and Mike Zagurski have all joined Bastardo, and Stutes has relievers who have reached the majors this season.
Another member of the Iron Pigs, Michael Schwimer, might find himself in the Phillies bullpen sometime during the second half of the season. Schwimer currently has a 1.89 ERA to go with a 5-0 record, 59 strikeouts, and five saves in 47.2 triple-A innings.
These eight pitchers, along with Madson, have contributed to the Phillies 3.08 team ERA and 651 strikeouts this season, second and fourth best in major league baseball, respectively.
However, the most important numbers that these players have contributed to this season is the team’s 54-32 record.
And that’s No. 1 in baseball.