Antonio Bastardo of the Philadelphia Phillies was compared to the greatest closer in history. Do you think the assessment by the Fox people was accurate? What do you expect from the corps four?
I am doing a weekly Baseball-Fix Monday until the end of March. Also, I’ll publish after every game that is not washed out during the summer. The updated format is in 4 parts. Cap-Size Hindsight features highlighted elements, good and bad, from the last battle through a variety of mostly house-themed devices. They are: Penthouse Occupancy with the Crystal Champagne Toast, Cholley’s Doghouse, the Glass House, Miniature Mansion, the Kangaroo Court House, Fun House Of Mirrors, Rally Tal & Cap, Full House Warming, and the Big House Key for The Rising Son. Nitecap Insight, Precap Pitch, and The Apocalyptic Horsemen are the 3 other sections.
There are the kiddy corps four and the unexpected rookie ingredients that might affect their role. Three of them are hurlers: Vance Worley, Bastardo and Michael Stutes. John Mayberry Jr. is the 4th member of the youth movement. Dom Brown and Phillippe Aumont are 2 hopefuls that could surpass 1 or 2 of last year’s breakouts.
The Vanimal is in the 4 slot, which is the home opener against new look Miami. This begins the uphill challenge to duplicate his ‘11 dominance, but the league will not be facing an unknown this time. That said, he went 3-2 with a 4.18 ERA for his last 10 appearances (2 relief), which could be an empty tank, a more familiar foe, or a statistical leveling out. Prior to that he was 8-1 with a 2.35 ERA. He has a lot of room to improve and adjust, but around 3 aces, he could put up double-digit wins with a 3.40 ERA.
Antonio was reminiscent of a young Mariano Riveria, when he was a set-up man. Bastardo was almost perfect in his first 56 outings with a 1.35 ERA, but his final 8 disasters amounted to a 17.36 ERA. He managed to finish the season with 3 hold-your-breath efforts–including 2 in October–but the 7 before that were monstrosities. He should bounce back after 3-4 solid April performances. The pressure to always excel reached its apex after 50 gems (56 opportunities), and finally that vice crushed him when he experienced sustained adversity. It might be more beneficial to have 2 bad showings per month. He will probably still be dominate but he will be less of a superman.
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Mayberry is the favorite to continue his upward destination, because his approach is incremental improvement. A good example was his altered stance at the plate last summer. He hit .231 plus 3 homers with 12 RBI in his first 104 at-bats, but his return changed his future favorably. With 163 AB, he finished strongly after returning by averaging .301 plus 12 bombs and 37 RBI. Last February, he was the 3rd option in right field behind Ben Francisco and Brown. For this tour leftfield is his to lose.
He maintained similar numbers in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League after he had gradually advanced to that ranking from 2005 through 2008. At that point, he had not lived up to his MLB potential and was dealt for Greg Golson, who was the Phillies’ version of disappointment. Both outfielders appeared to reach their ceiling at Triple-A, which is why they were traded. Rube Amaro’s first swap appears to be bearing fruit, because Big John’s determination is pushing him over that final barrier. Mayberry corrected his discipline at the dish after his limited 2010 action in Philly led to a small-sample .211 mark. Again, he fixed another dream-stopping area last campaign with his modifications.
John Mayberry‘s Stats: * Abbreviated-Season League, ** Advanced
Speaking of adapting to reach the finish line, Brown’s path crossed with Gary Sheffield‘s, which provided many helpful hitting tips. He may open a few eyes with his new style, which will close a few holes in his swing: He moved his hand positioning specifically. In March, we will observe his progress as a leftfielder and a batter, but will he struggle with pressure, like last year? If Dom shines, Mayberry may be playing more first base than anyone expected, which would give Ryan Howard more time to heal. I don’t expect Domonic to go north with the Phils, but I wouldn’t be surprised by his name in some early lineups.
Stutes suffered a drop in effectiveness after mid-June. From April 25 until June 20, he had a 2.08 ERA for 23 chances with only 3 bad showings. However, in his final 34 attempts, he produced a 4.46 ERA with only 21 good results. He achieved effective numbers 87% of the time initially, but that success rate fell to 61.8% afterward. If he continues where he left off, he will face a strong challenge from David Herndon for April’s bullpen seat. However, Phillippe Aumont, who has a hammer’s mentality, will be looking to replace one or the other.
Worley and Stutes need to reach the midpoint of their 2-part seasons, which would be a 3.27 ERA for both. Brown and Aumont may influence a few decisions before the summer is over, while they shore up a club weakness in a minor role. It may be the difference between making a trade-deadline exchange and crossing the luxury-tax threshold or not. However, of the corps four the major contributions may come from Mayberry and Bastardo. That means a solid 6-hole RBI threat and a Ryan Madson-like 8th-inning set-up.
My contribution to the MLB-30 series (3 Up and 3 Down) is for isportsweb & Fox Sports (launch in late March). The other links are to my previous publication (The Best Closer After), and the 14 storylines, so far, for 2012 on the Phillies page or my author archives.
Tal’s Handy Stats is daily coverage. The 2012 MLB 5 may feature the Halos or Cardinals, while the Sox and Dodgers may be replaced. I alternated the 2011 ERA For The NL East and the 2011 ERA For The MLB 5. A site format change slightly distorted the original ERA postings (#161 is less so), but the new table will be used for the ERA publications, like the ones featured above. Thank you, to all who bookmarked the Phillies page, because feeds are erratic at times.