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February 6 2007

Seriously, though, if the guy with the sign shows anything I think you have to at least consider him as the setup man.

The situation with the Phillies pen has gotten to the point where you have to wonder if there's a master plan we haven't seen yet.  The options the Phillies have in-house are limited, and it's hard to imagine they're are going to call on them to pitch 150 or 200 or innings next season.

Last season, 15 different pitchers threw in relief for the Phillies.  They combined to throw to a 3.79 ERA in 539 innings in their time as relief pitchers.  Here's who they were and how many innings each of them pitched:

 

Player IP
G Geary 91.1
A Fultz 69.2
T Gordon 59.1
R Franklin 53.0
A Rhodes 45.2
R Madson 44.0
R White 37.1
R Cormier 34.0
C Condrey 28.2
F Castro 23.1
B Sanches 21.1
E Brito 9.2
M Smith 8.2
J Santana 8.1
S Mathieson 4.2


Of those 15, four look to be a sure thing for the '07 version of the Phillies pen.  Those four combined to throw 203 1/3 innings as relievers in '06 and pitched to a 3.36 ERA

 

Player IP ER
Geary 91.1 30
Gordon 59.1 22
Madson 44 22
Smith 8.2 2
Total 203.1 76

The 539 innings Phils relievers threw last season was fourth highest in the National League.  For the sake of this example let's say next season with the improved starting rotation the pen will only be called on to throw 500 innings.  If those four players threw exactly the same number of innings in relief next year, and allowed the same number of earned runs, for the Phillies' pen to have a similar ERA in 500 innings in '07, the guys in the bullpen other than the four would have to throw 296 2/3 innings and allow 135 earned runs.  That would have them pitching to a 4.10 ERA.

The 4.10 ERA isn't going to happen, but it's not nearly as scary as the 296 2/3 innings the Phillies would need from other pitchers.

Madson and Smith seem sure to pitch more innings in relief in '07 than they did in '06.  The innings for Gordon seem about reasonable.  Geary will probably throw a few less.  Even if you double Madson's relief innings to 88, which would put him just above the number of innings he pitched in '05 when he was in the pen full-time, and pencil Smith in to throw 50 innings as a left-handed specialist, it still only gives you 288 2/3 innings from the big four.

It leaves 211 1/3 innings to be pitched by other guys to get to 500.  That's a lot of Antonio Alfonseca, Jim Ed Warden and their ilk, even if everything goes great with Madson, Smith, Geary and Gordon.

Even of the four guys back from last year, three were good in '06 and the two that pitched a significant number of innings seem like candidates to be off that pace in '07.  Gordon is a year older after not pitching well in the second half of the season in '06.  Geary was pushed on hard last season and could still be a solid reliever out of the pen if he adds another half a run to his ERA.  One would assume that Madson's going to be better, but he might need to be a whole lot better.  I'm rooting for Matt Smith just like everybody else is, but if he strikes out Chipper Jones on three pitches on opening day he'll have 21 innings of major league experience a couple of months before his 28th birthday.

On the plus side of the ledger there's really not much except for blind faith in a Gillick plan that's yet to be revealed.  It's starting to look like Fabio Castro could be the real deal and give the Phillies good innings as a reliever this season if the team abandons the idea of sending him to the minors to work as a starter.  Maybe one of those other guys without much experience can come through and contribute.  But surely Gillick has something up his sleeve besides Dustin Hermanson.  Wouldn't you think?

Rick Helling retired.

Dustin Hermanson is working out for teams this week in Arizona.

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