As the final bullets are fired, the last seats in the bullpen of the Philadelphia Phillies and Jonathan Papelbon will be decided by Monday. There are 4 candidates for 3 spots.
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NOTE: A roster decision could be announced soon.
Odd Man Out:
A lot can happen in a week or even less: 1 rocky outing can change the minds of the brain trust.
After excluding Aaron Cook with his team-making $1.625 million, the finalists are Jeremy Horst, Phillippe Aumont, Raul Valdes and Mike Stutes. Cook was only an insurance policy for a 2 or 3 month absence by a rotation arm at the beginning of the campaign. Yes, he could have been a long man, which Kyle Kendrick was in 2012. However, Kendrick was in line to replace Joe Blanton (salary differential) because of the tax for exceeding the competitive-balance threshold.
Horst has allowed only 1 unearned run for his last 10 innings over 7 appearances. Last season he sported a 1.15 ERA for 31.1 frames over 32 performances. Management traded Wilson Valdez for Horst last year; however, Valdez only hit .206 after averaging .249 in Philly during 2011. He was not re-signed in Cincinnati, was recently released by San Francisco, and didn’t have enough time to make Miami’s squad on a minor-league deal.
A second left-hander behind Antonio Bastardo would appear to be the first order of business, because that provides a plan B for a struggling Bastardo.
Aumont has dominant stuff with closer potential, but his future will be determined by his control. Recently, he made adjustments on the fly against the Orioles after walking the first 2 he faced. He won’t have to feel the heat of the 8th inning on a daily basis, like ‘12. He has had an excellent spring, and should go north with the club unless he completely implodes.
The 7th will be needed in ‘13 for Kendrick, John Lannan and probably Doc Halladay, which has to be the 2nd consideration.
Valdes produced a 2.90 ERA for 31 frames over 27 attempts in ‘12, which is part of the final equation. Plus, he can be utilized as a long reliever, a spot starter, a rain-interruption replacement, a third southpaw in the ‘pen and a lefty specialist. He has recently provided 3 excellent showings of 3 innings each. He has a 3.52 ERA for 15.1 frames over 7 March efforts.
The comfort level for Charlie Manuel in the 7th is Aumont or Stutes, and that is especially important if Bastardo has difficulty.
Stutes was the victim of poor defense during his dismal offering against Boston recently. After 2 quick outs during the 7th of a 1-1 game, he issued 2 straight free passes. Then, SS Yuniesky Betancourt threw to the wrong base (2nd) instead of 1st, which prolonged the inning with a fielder’s choice that would have been the 3rd out. A run scored on the play, a 3rd walk was issued to load the bags, and RF Pete Orr misjudged a fly out into a 3-RBI triple.
Spring results can be influenced by testing other avenues–like Freddy Galvis in left field–to address the organization’s shortcomings, which the higher-ups take into consideration.
Betancourt was here only as an injury backup for the infield, and Orr was a right-field experiment. Rube Amaro wants more from a 5th outfielder than his Rule 5 pick, Ender Inciarte. That stated, Stutes should have had a scoreless line of 1 frame, but 5 all-earned runs (1 inherited) were charged to him. Without that contest, Stutes has a 1.93 ERA for 9.1 frames over 8 March battles.
The back-end schedule for Friday night is the same as Thursday’s: Aumont, Mike Adams and Papelbon, which is a directional clue.
There are 3 available roles for the bullpen.
Select 1, 2 or a maximum of 3.
Who is in your relief corps?
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Tal Venada (Author Archives)