It started as a major question mark. The outlook was worse in spring training. Yet, through Memorial Day, the Phillies bullpen has been great.
After Brad Lidge got hurt in spring training, the Phillies used Jose Contreras (maybe a bit too much). Despite an injury, he has a 0.00 ERA in 10.2 innings pitched. He has only allowed four hits, and he’s 5-5 in save opportunities.
When The Big Truck went down, the Phillies relied on free-agent-to-be Ryan Madson. Now, he’s having a career year. Madson is 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA, and he’s 12-12 in save opportunities.
Brad Lidge has begun his rehab assignments in Florida and is expected back by the end of June.
The Phillies have also benefited from a youth movement in the pen. The young guns of the bullpen, Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes have stepped into key late-inning roles. In 21 appearances, Bastardo is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 19.1 innings pitched. The rookie, Stutes, has a 2.53 ERA in 14 appearances and is averaging more than one strikeout per inning.
With four aces in the starting rotation, the Phillies bullpen is the least used in the National League, which will help to keep it fresh heading into October.
Even with fresh, productive arms, the San Diego Union Tribune is reporting the Phillies are interested in their All-Star closer, Heath Bell. The news on Bell is toward the end of the story.