Oct
28

World Series Preview: Phillies Bullpen

By

We’ve previewed the Yankees along with their opponents through the ALDS and ALCS. Instead of re-re-rehashing all of that, we’re going to stick with just the opponents this time. We’ve already looked at their starters and their infield, and now we’ll take a look at their bullpen.

As a whole, the Philadelphia bullpen posted a 3.91 ERA in 2009, exactly equal to the Yanks’ mark. The difference between the two, however, is that the Yanks’ relief corps succeeded by striking guys out while the Phillies relied more on pitching to contact and letting their defense do the work. The Phils’ bullpen did have their own reality TV show this season, and sheesh, how are the Yanks supposed to compete with that?

Let’s break it down piece by piece.

Closer: Brad Lidge
You’ve all heard the story by now. Lidge was perfect in save opportunities last year, but he struggled so badly this year that he lost his closer’s job for a while. Main stream media types have penned a few “Lidge is back on track” pieces to fill the inches during playoff downtime, but don’t let them fool you. In a whopping four innings this postseason, Lidge has put four guys on base (three walks), and no one’s impressed by retiring players like Ronnie Belliard and Mark Loretta with the bases empty.

For whatever reason, batters aren’t just making more contact against Lidge this year, they’re making more solid contact. Among relievers with at least 55 IP this year, no one allowed a greater slugging percentage against than Lidge’s .515. To put that in perspective, just 36 batters had a SLG that high in 2009.  The Yankees have already mounted two comebacks off Lidge this year, and not enough has changed to suggest he’s returned to being an effective reliever, let alone a dominant closer.

Setup: Ryan Madson
The Phillies run to the World Series last year was boosted by Madson’s emergence in the second half, when he held opponents to a .592 OPS against over his final 26 appearances. He managed to maintain his late-2008 performance in 2009, holding opponents to a .251 average and striking out more than a batter per inning. Madson’s mid-90′s gas (check out his velo graph) and top-of-the-line changeup make him effective against both righties and lefties, and he’s Charlie Manuel’s go-to reliever in a tight spot.

None of the Yankees’ regulars have had more than three plate appearances against Madson in their careers, and unfamiliarity is always advantage: pitcher. Even though his playoff numbers aren’t great, Madson is the one pitcher in Philadelphia’s bullpen that is a true difference maker right now. The best way for the Yankees to neutralize him is by pounding the other pitchers on Philly’s staff, rendering Madson’s innings meaningless.

Lefties: Antonio Bastardo, Scott Eyre
Fans of DotF will surely remember Bastardo terrorizing High-A Tampa last year, and he was a bit of a surprise inclusion on the postseason roster. He’s faced a grand total of two batters in the postseason, striking out a batter in the NLDS and allowing a hit in the NLCS. In all likelihood, he’ll be the last man out of the Phillies’ bullpen, especially since he can provide length in extra innings if need be (he was a starter before moving to the pen in the postseason).

Scott Eyre, on the other hand, is the guy that will come on to face a lefty or two in a tough spot. His numbers are better than solid against lefties (.210-.269-.355), and he even holds his own against righties (.200-.356-.333), so you might see a situation were Eyre is brought in to face Hideki Matsui, then is left in to face Jorge Posada just so he could also pitch to Robinson Cano. He’s been hit around a bit in the playoffs (6 H in 2.1 IP), so he’s not exactly a lockdown reliever.

We should also add JA Happ into the LOOGY mix, because it’s unlikely he’ll get a start in the Fall Classic. He held lefties to a .216-.285-.358 batting line this season, but like everything else about his season, it came with the aid of a fluky low BABIP (.254 in this case).

Righties: Chad Durbin, Chan Ho Park, Brett Myers
Aside from Madson, Durbin might be Philadelphia’s most trustworthy reliever. He had extreme control issues during the season (47 BB in 69.2 IP), but but has been perfect in the postseason. Literally perfect, no baserunners in five appearances. Chan Ho Park, meanwhile, seems to be Philadelphia’s Al Aceves. He’ll work an inning, three innings, a third of an inning, whatever. Park has gotten some high-leverage work this postseason, but outside of one winning in the NLCS, he’s failed pretty miserably at it. Not to sound overly confident or anything, but the Yanks eat relievers like CHP for breakfast.

Believe it or not, Myers started Opening Day for the Phigtin’s this year, although he missed a big chunk of the season with a torn labrum in his hip. He was left off the NLCS roster after being used just once in the NLDS, and at this point he’s kind of like a reliever without a role. With subpar strikeout numbers and a propensity to give up the longball, it’s hard to picture Myers getting high leverage work in the World Series. He’s kinda like their Brian Bruney, except not really.

Unless he makes a start, Joe Blanton will also be available out of he bullpen for Charlie Manuel. Blanton’s already made two long relief appearances (and one start) this postseason, but like I said in the SP preview, it’s Joe Blanton, and the Yankees traditionally crush him.

Madson and Lidge are the only guys that bring premium velocity to the table this series, although CHP can dial it up occasionally. For the most part, this group will pitch themselves into trouble if you let them, so the key for the Yanks is to be patient and work favorable counts, then sit dead red on some average fastballs.

Categories : Playoffs

52 Comments»

  1. I still haven’t seen a good answer for why Philadelphia left Tyler Walker off the roster for all 3 series. He had a pretty strong season for them.

  2. Moshe Mandel says:

    If the Yankees can get the Phillies starters out early, they will kill this bullpen. No one except Madson is particularly tough to hit, and even Madson has struggled lately.

  3. Kiersten says:

    The thought of Brad Lidge pitching in Yankee Stadium in the World Series brings all sorts of smiles to my face.

  4. Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

    The Philles pen is Prime Quality meat, it’s excellent for roasting, broiling or grilling.

  5. Jordan says:

    Whatever happened to J.C. Romero?

    • pat says:

      elbow surgery

      • Hard to pitch every other day when you’re clean.

        • jsbrendog says:

          eh based on the evidence provided i believe his story and it was a false positive from a mislabeled supplement and he was screwed by doing the right thing.

          the guy called the hotline mlb gave him to ask about it and was told he’d be fine. come on

          • Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

            So maybe, MAYBE, it wasn’t from the supplement.

            • jsbrendog says:

              im pretty sure we’ve had this discussion before and they told him that the supplement was the reason and that was confirmed and he had called the number and there was a whole big issue and hoopla about it.

            • TLVP says:

              in a world were everyone is a suspect, it is one of the better defences i’ve seen from someone who’s been caught. Not saying he’s clean but its a fair coincidence that he’d actually be using the same stuff that was in the supplement (unless of course he knew it existed in that supplement so he thought he had a great cover – ahhh whichever way you look at it these days it looks bad)

              • Mike HC says:

                If you are so uncertain of a drug that you need to call the MLB hotline, you probably should not be taking it anyway if you are so concerned with staying clean. It is almost a situation like he already knew the answer, but was still trying to get validation for doing it anyway. To me, calling that hotline seems like a bit of a joke. If you call the hotline, odds are your on something. That is how I see it.

  6. count crapulent says BOO says:

    Our predictions of who the offense is going to feast on and who will give them trouble is usually wrong. The Yankees tend to defy all predictability.

  7. TLVP says:

    its a bit funny the extreme confidence of us Yankee fans..

    In some way it is obvious since we have

    - the better offense – all the journalists in the world can talk about the best AL offense vs the best NL offense, but they will be wrong. We are clearly better

    - the best no 1, no. 2 and no. 3 starter

    - the better bullpenn

    - homefield advantage

    However SSS is not just relevant for historic data. The Phillies is not one of the best 3 teams in baseball (Yankees, Angels and Red Sox), but they are not a bad team and could easily cause problems. I’m saying Yankees in 6 but i’ll admit to being both nervous and worried (mainly about Lee pitching a gem or two and about bad AJ showing up once or twice)

    • jsbrendog says:

      i have many issues with this. the philies are definitely a better team that the angels first off. cliff lee >>> lackey and hamels, despite his struggles this yr, is still better than any of the angels 2-5 guys. plus again despite struggles this yr i don’t know many people who would take morales/aybar/kendrick/izturis over howard/utley/rollins.

      also, cc/lee is not a definite win for the yanks. yes id rather have cc but it is close to a wash.

      burnett/hamels again is a slight edge to burnett now only because of hamels struggles, but in any given game you could get good/bad burnett/hamels and when theyre both good theyre dominant and when theyre both bad theyre awful.

      ‘ll give you pettitte>>>>blanton/pedro/happ/etc

    • Jay says:

      The Phils can cause problems, but the press is hyping this WS to be this ultimate showdown. I don’t see it happening. I agree with Rob Neyer when he said if the Yankees played in the NL East, they would have won 110 games.

      Cliff Lee is the only starter the Phillies have that I concerned about. But even with that concern, Cliff Lee is now going to have to pitch against a varsity team that can hurt pitchers up and down the lineup. Lee likes to work extremely fast and I expect the Yankees to try and slow him down as much as possible. It’s not about how many pitches he has thrown (an absolutely worthless statistic) but keeping him from getting into any kind of rhythm.

      Beyond Lee it’s Pedro (who won’t be pitching in the warmth of LA. It will be chilly and in the 40′s tomorrow night) and Hamels who has been inconsistent all year long. His mediocrity has continued into the playoffs. Unless they come back with Lee on 3 days rest, it will be either JA Happ or Joe Blanton.

      As Mike also pointed out with regard to Lidge who everybody seems to be slobbering over again, he’s walked 3 guys in 4 innings of post-season work and who he finished off isn’t all that impressive either. In the 6-5 win over the Dodgers, Lidge struck out Kemp and Ehtier who together struck out 255 times this season. The Yankees only had two regulars (Tex and Swisher) that struck out over 100 times this season.

      I won’t be surprised if the series goes 6 or 7 games. Hamels could awaken from his slumber, but in reality I see the Yankees taking it in 5.

  8. mryankee says:

    Interesting how the calls are now for DROB out of the bullpen ahead Of Joba. Has Joba fallen off the map? is he now being considered a bust? I would hate to think so but I have not read any articles that portray much confidence in JOBA.

    • jsbrendog says:

      wrong thread. the drob bullpen thread is a couple ones back.

    • Mike bk says:

      no one is calling him a bust for his career at this point. i think the point being made is that right now is more about the wins that his feelings and we have more confidence in the WS that D-Rob will get the job done, especially in a role he has excelled in for months not just been stuck in for a few days.

    • pat says:

      Not to mention nobody has called Joba a bust. Not here, not even once. He’s in uncharted territories innings wise and as a result is a bit inconsistent. For the most part we know what we’re getting from K-Rob and Hughes, Joba, not so much. Just because we dont have a tremendous amount of confidence doesn’t mean somebody is a bust.

      I fucking hate that word so much. Well at least in a baseball sense.

      • jsbrendog says:

        I fucking hate that word so much. Well at least in a baseball sense.

        hehe..bust

      • mryankee says:

        I dont think he is a bust either. I was asking in terms of what has been written. I think he has had a disappointing year but still too young to give up on. My only hope for Joba is that the yankees coaches do not allow him to be a starter with a medicore fastball and they correct that issue. I also note that the Phillies bullpen is not much better if at all than Anaheim. I would take Jepson over pretty much anyone in Philly except maybe Happ. If the Yanks gan get Lee out of the game they should pound Phils pen.

        • kunaldo says:

          b/c we think K-rob is a better option right now out of the pen, we’re giving up on joba? That is far from what the general thinking is. More like K-rob has been more reliable as of late, Joba has seemed to hit a wall w/ his stamina, and next year he will still be given plenty of opportunities.

          And Joba has a mediocre fastball? Even with his diminished velocity, he’s sat at 92+, and tops out at 95-96. Sure, it’s not what he was before(which is still disturbing since he’s so young), but the greater problem was his lack of command.

        • pat says:

          Well IMO disappointment is in the eye of the beholder. If you were expecting him to be a Cy young candidate and blow people away and be an ace right away, yea you’re going to be disappointed. I was looking for him to get through an entire season without getting hurt and without completely embarrassing himself. He looked flat out dominant at times and at times he looked like what he is.. a 23 yr old rookie starting pitch-uh in the most difficult division in baseball. 157 innings with a 4.57 era. That’s not awesome, but it is certainly not terrible.

          • Well IMO disappointment is in the eye of the beholder. If you were expecting him to be a Cy young candidate and blow people away and be an ace right away, yea you’re going to be disappointed. I was looking for him to get through an entire season without getting hurt and without completely embarrassing himself. He looked flat out dominant at times and at times he looked like what he is.. a 23 yr old rookie starting pitch-uh in the most difficult division in baseball. 157 innings with a 4.57 era. That’s not awesome, but it is certainly not terrible.

            Nothing to add, etc, etc, etc.

        • TheLastClown says:

          I like that your posts, mryankee, come from a place of long-term confidence in Joba that degenerate quickly into B-Jobberism.

          Most but not all of the people here think Joba is A: not a bust, and B: a starting pitcher.

          At least until he proves otherwise. Talk to me at the end of 2011, and we’ll see what he looks like then.

  9. Tank Foster says:

    I think the Phillies are a bit overrated by most of the media outlets. I think they are on the same level as Anaheim and Boston. They only won 92 games. Of course, they only had Lee for half of the season, but still.

    As for Joba, it’s a half empty/half full sorta thing. To have a young pitcher who is as good as he is and with high upside, that’s a good thing and the glass seems half full. However, when you consider how he dominated in ’07, you have to worry because he seems sooooo less scary now.

    It’s not just command, it’s the fact that he doesn’t have the swing and miss stuff he had in the past. Good hitters, and even average hitters, seem to be able to foul off his good fastballs and his good breaking pitches. In ’07, hitters looked helpless against him. Not anymore.

    But maybe it will improve next season.

  10. count crapulent says BOO says:

    I’m also amazed the credibility Mets fans are giving to Philly. Is it so they don’t look so bad having lost to such a superior team? This year for the Mets doesn’t really count with all the injuries but some fans are really talking up the Phillies over the Yanks. I heard so many calls into talk radio last night bragging on the Phillies from Mets fans, I thought I had landed on the wrong planet.

    I am just amazed (pun intended) at the number of Mets fans rooting for the Phillies. Yankee fans rooted for the Mets over their archrivals in 1986 and rejoiced in the win. I know Mets/Phillies is not as intense as Yanks/Red Sox, but are you kidding me with supporting your league rival over your other hometown team?

    • pat says:

      Eh, I don’t really blame them. As you said it makes their cause more noble to be killed by the WS champs every year. More importantly, the more the Yankees shine the worse and worse the Mets look by comparison. No Mets fan wants to have to pick up a newspaper in NY and be subjected to an onslaught of Yankee love.

    • Simple answer: Mets fans dislike the Yankees more than they like the Mets.

  11. [...] River Ave Blues. He’s done a very nice job evaluating the Phillies starting staff as well as their bullpen. In the end, I think it’s fair to say that the Yankees have better pitching, which is why [...]

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