Called up mid-season from Triple-A, Jake Diekman was one of few bright spots in the Phillies' Cthulian nightmare of a bullpen.
Diekman's Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs pages here.
Drafted in the 30th round in 2007, Diekman climbed slowly through the minors, finishing 2011 at Reading, where he posted a 3.51 FIP and sparkling 11.49 K/9. This earned him a Spring Training invite in 2012, where he certainly caught some attention, before being sent to Lehigh Valley. Diekman was able to capitalize on that attention at Triple-A, assembling a 2.11 FIP in 26.2 innings, alongside a 12.49 K/9. His 4.39 BB/9 was, while somewhat high, lower than previous minor league seasons.
Meanwhile, the Phillies' already strong bullpen, bolstered by the off-season acquisitions of Jonathan Papelbon and ... no, no I can't write that. ...the off-season acquisition of Jonathan Papelbon and absolutely no one else because who would believe that the Phillies would have signed Chad Qualls because that's just too dumb to talk about. Ahem.
As I was saying, the bullpen, a definite position of strength, had utterly collapsed by like the second day of the season, beginning the year-long campaign of Bullpen Roulette--like Russian Roulette, except you load six ineffective relievers into a giant revolver and fire them randomly at bats until the umpire declares you the loser. On May 13th, Michael Schwimer and Brian Sanches were demoted, and Diekman got the call.
He wasted no time, either. His Major League debut came on May 15th, entering in the 9th inning of a 3-3 tie against the visiting Houston Astros. Diekman finished the 9th and pitched a perfect 10th, striking out three on only 21 pitches. Whoa.
Of course, one game is the epitome of small sample size, and Diekman came back to Earth in a hurry, allowing four runs in two-thirds of an inning two days later in Chicago. Control problems hounded Freaky Dieky, leading to a dismal 6.59 BB/9 by the end of the year. Still, he completed his cups of coffee in 2012 with an otherwise decent line, by 2012 Phillies' bullpen standards. His FIP/xFIP/ERA was 3.53/3.92/3.95, in 27.1 innings, alongside an 11.52 K/9.
The Good Phight has secured a transcript of Diekman's exit interview with GM Ruben Amaro, because we're like ninjas.
Amaro: 1. How did you let your teammates down this season?
Well, Chad Qualls and I pitched about the same amount of innings this year, but I allowed 220% more walks than he did. So there's that. I apologize for mentioning him.
Amaro: 2. How did you let your manager and GM down this season, other than by discussing Chad Qualls just now?
Sorry about that. Won't happen again. Well, I struggled with the walk rate and allowing too many homeruns. I mean, I allowed 0.56% of our homeruns this year in only about 1.9% of the innings, which is far too many by anyone's measure.
Manuel: 3. Dadgum like yes.
Amaro: 4. Shut up Chuckles. Jack, what do you have to say to all the fans you let down this season?
Uh, my name is Jake. Jacob Tanner Diekman.
Amaro: I don't want your life story, Slick. Answer the question before I trade you to Portugal.
Sorry. Well, I guess mostly all the homeruns. I mean, I think it was three, and that is just unacceptable. Fans, I'll redouble my efforts next year! Please don't hate me!
Amaro: 5. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst, how do you rate on the "it's my fault we're in this freaking mess and missed the playoffs scale?"
Like I've said before with all the homeruns, I think I probably cost us at least fifteen wins, which would have put us in playoff contention.
< at this point there was an unintelligible groaning sound, as if thousands of terrified voices suddenly called out from another dimension >
Amaro: I have to take this phone call. Sarge, finish the interview.
Manuel: Like, why I just don't do it?
Amaro: Shut up Chuckles.
Sarge: 6. Great job this year, Jake, you did good coming up with the cup of coffee with the Fightin' Phils this year. As a rookie, you look to the older guys on the club, for advice; just like to try and get a pitch to drive right here when you can?
I'm a pitcher, Sarge, but, yeah, if I ever get an At-Bat, I'll try to keep that in mind.
Manuel: What about like those homeruns you had this year like you were talking about like.
Sandberg: Charlie, Ruben said to come talk to you outside right now.
< at this point the tape runs nearly silent for seventeen minutes >
Halladay: What are we going to do with the body?
Utley: Don't worry, Doc, I got this.
Sandberg: Are you sure, guys? I mean...
Utley: No, Ryno, it's better if you don't know.
Diekman: Uh, guys, should I leave now? I promise not say anything.
Sandberg: Yeah, uh, you should go pitch some batting practice or something.
Uh, sure, Skip. No problem.
Ibanez: You know guys, there's a ninja hiding under the desk here with a tape recorder.
< recording ends >