I am writing this during the Top of the 8th inning as Raul Valdes comes into a 9-4 game to mop up another poor managerial decision.
Lets start off this post with recapping the strengths and weaknesses of relievers in the bullpen for those of you living under a rock.
Raul Valdes: A half decent middle reliever who had a good 2012. Best asset is that he can pitch multiple innings.
Jeremy Horst: Decent middle reliever, pitched over his head in 2012, will walk batters. Can also go multiple innings.
Chad Durbin: Terrible major league reliever. Best asset is that he is supposedly a great guy.
Phillipe Aumont: Great raw stuff, can strike out batters and get a ground out when he doesn't. Prone to extreme wildness.
Antonio Bastardo: Can be walk and homer prone but one of the best strikeout pitchers in the major leagues.
Mike Adams: Top setup man in baseball. His only weakness is he may only be used in the 8th inning.
Jonathan Papelbon: Close to a Top 5 closer in baseball, may only be used in the 9th inning.
So the situation is you are up by 2 but there is a man on 2nd and 3rd, but 2 outs and the Royals have just announced Billy Butler a right handed hitter. All you need is one out by any means necessary, despite the fact that it is the 6th inning this is a save situation. You have some options:
1. Bring in Phillipe Aumont to face Billy Butler, he may be wild but if he walks Butler it just loads the bases. Aumont can get the strikeout or groundout to end the inning. You can then start the clean 7th with another reliever or leave Aumont in.
2. Bring in Mike Adams or Jonathan Papelbon because this is the deciding moment of the game and if you screw it up the game is over and your best relievers never pitch. You worry about the 8th and 9th when you get there.
3. Intentionally walk the batter and bring a lefty reliever to face Gordon.
- You can go get Antonio Bastardo who destroys righties and lefties but especially lefties who hit .169 off him last year.
- You can bring in Jeremy Horst who has no platoon splits most because his main weapon is a changeup against right handed hitters.
There is so much mismanagement in this bullpen it is ridiculous. If the four pitchers you use are Kendrick, Horst, Durbin, and Valdes you are going to lose a lot of games. If you lose with your best reliever on the mound you put up your hands and say "They beat us today", but there is no excuse for losing because you left your 4 best relievers on the bullpen bench in a winnable game. The adherence to the save stat is not a Phillies problem but it is a serious competitive advantage to teams that use their bullpens correctly. This is to speak nothing of going with Durbin to seal the Royals win in the 7th inning rather than someone to keep it close.
The frustration is because this is not a team that can give away games and improper use of the bullpen is an entirely fixable problem that could give this team an advantage as the back of the bullpen is one of the best in the majors.