Relievers tend to be as volatile as Kardashians. Who knows what you’ll get from a pitcher, who is not good enough to be a starter, year after year?
However, there is reason to believe that the Phillies bullpen could be something very special for the next few seasons. Only one Phillies reliever is over 27 and the pen has been light’s out since the All-Star break.
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The Phillies relievers have been the most consistent part of Ryne Sandberg’s team. That’squite a contrast from the 2012 and 2013 pens, which were the Phillies Achillies heal.
The Phillies relievers posted a 4.19 ERA, good for 27th in baseball in 2013. It didn’t look good early this season. Through May 11, the Phillies pen had a 4.95 ERA, which was second worst in the majors but that was before Ken Giles was called up and Jake Diekman and Justin DeFratus found themselves.
“When you hand over a lead to this pen, you feel good about it holding up,” Kyle Kendrick said. “They’re that good.”
Cole Hamels feels the same way, particularly after Monday. Hamels left the game against the Braves in the sixth inning without allowing a hit. Diekman, Giles (0.87 WHIP) and Jonathan Papelbon (0.82 WHIP), who has been very good in 2014, not only held the lead but preserved the no-hitter.
“I like this pen more than the 2008 (Phillies bullpen),” a NL scout said. “That was a tremendous bullpen. When Ryan Madson entered the game in the eighth it was over and (Brad) Lidge was perfect. Having Giles in the eighth is like having a closer come out an inning early. He’s for real. I like everything about him. Pap has very reliable. He’s not just picking up saves. He’s had a bunch of clean innings. Diekman and DeFratus have pitched really well. To have four guys pitch that well out of the pen is tremendous.”
It’ll be interesting to see what Miguel Alfredo Gonzales can do. The Cuban hurler, who signed a three-year $12 million deal is a September callup, who pitched very well over the last month in Lehigh Valley.
The bar has been set for MAG in the Phillies bullpen. Three of the Phillies relievers have above a 9.00 K/9 and only two bullpen arms have an ERA above 4.00
“I love being part of this,” Diekman said. “I really think this is something special. We’re putting it together and the great thing is that we should all be here doing this for years.”