When Antonio Bastardo came up in 2009, fans could argue that the hard-throwing Dominican possessed the best surname in baseball. Now, the Phillies’ faithful can make a case for Bastardo as the best reliever in baseball.



Bastardo, who recently became the team’s fourth closer of the season, has posted ridiculous numbers halfway through the season. He has a 0.87 ERA and has given up just 11 hits in 31 innings. He has struck out 35 and walked just 14 batters, with a crazy 0.81 WHIP and five saves in five chances.



The numbers are staggering, even when comparing Bastardo to Mariano Rivera’s finest work. Sure, it’s a small sample set — but look at how much Bastardo has improved since he arrived in 2009. He posted a 2-3 record with a 6.46 ERA as a starter. He was moved to the bullpen in 2010 and he lowered his ERA to 4.34.



The main difference for Bastardo is that he’s not just a fastball pitcher anymore. His slider has been very good this season and his numbers are off the chart.



“I’ve just tried to get better,” Bastardo said. “I just want to be the best I can be. I had to make improvements in my game.”



Bastardo has pitched so well that he is the trusted closer.



“I feel good about that because they gave me a chance to close the game and I’ve done it,” Bastardo said. “I want to keep doing it or whatever my job is here. I come in and I know I have to get three outs no matter what inning it is.”