Beyond the centerfield gate, there will be youth, inexperience and Jonathan Papelbon for the Philadelphia Phillies. What role has he played in their growth?
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Only on a trial basis due to a strong response, the scheduled articles will be supplemented with special fill-ins between main postings, starting next week.
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The March Battle:
For the 2nd half the green hurlers in the ‘pen were, for the most part, promising. MLB coaching and the other pitchers’ tips were a few reasons, while watching the aces work didn’t hurt anything either. However, it may have been Cinco Ocho who had the biggest influence on them. He strongly desired the postseason, and he needed them to secure the outs from the starter until the 9th. The turnaround in the relief corps was a very pleasant surprise, but something happened for that emergence. Was it Papelbon?
I have isolated their later performances in the table below, and each one found a measure of success. B.J. Rosenberg was a fit for the long-man slot, Jake Diekman was best as a lefty specialist, and the other five filled the frames from the 6th to the 8th. Michael Schwimer was solid before he had a balky wing, and Mike Stutes went down early in the campaign. In 2011, he was outstanding for his first 2 months, but was 50-50 after the league caught up with him. David Herndon was removed from the 40-man roster due to his arbitration eligibility, his July-targeted return and his depth-chart drop.
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* Full MLB season stats
The photo shows the tumbling John Mayberry Jr., but the bullpen reveals the experience-based reactions of the 4 relievers. Paps calmly watches the action, knowing it is a 5-1 losing effort in the 6th. Schwimer absorbs the situation, because the phone may ring at any moment with his name called. Kyle Kendrick appears oblivious, because he knows the developments are not headed in his direction. Diekman is the only one surprised by the play before him, and 5 days later he found himself in a Lehigh Valley uniform (AAA). The faces in that shot uncloak their career-path location at that time.
Cinco Ocho and a free agent would handle the final 2 innings. The southpaw part of the ’pen equation is filled by Antonio Bastardo and Jeremy Horst. Recovering from his health issues, Stutes will probably have to open with the Triple-A IronPigs. Schwimer did not make an appearance anywhere after August 19, he complained about a sore arm, but his decline had begun a week earlier. His situation is in doubt also. Therefore, three seats will be up for grabs between Phillippe Aumont, Josh Lindblom, Justin De Fratus, Rosenberg (long man) and Diekman (lefty specialist). B.J. could be in the rotation for Lehigh Valley unless somebody stumbles or has a physical malady. Jake probably will need more seasoning unless there is a reason for a 3rd lefty or a temporary replacement.
Every young stud in the relief corps has bounced back from difficult outings, and that assessment is courtesy of Papelbon. On the other hand, Rube Amaro knows that 5 of them could run into extended adversity. Of the 9 candidates for the 6 spots to precede Paps, Bastardo, Horst and a FA would fill half. Aumont, Horst, Lindblom and Schwimer (questionable readiness) have shown the most with the first 3 favored. However, Rosenberg has an excellent chance because he can work multiple frames. This is the one area where the competition is devoid of money or option concerns, which will produce the purest combat in camp.
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