After having the best bullpen in the National League in 2008, the Phillies’ pen faded to the middle of the pack in 2009. At this point it looks like five of the bullpen spots for 2010 have been filled by Lidge, Durbin, Madson, Romero and Baez. The table below shows what those five combined to do in 2009 and what the Phillies bullpen overall combined to do for the year:

  IP H BB SO
ERA Ratio
Five 2010 PHI
relievers in 2009
294 273 138 253 4.47 1.40
2009 PHI pen 492 457 223 417 3.91 1.38

So if those five guys each did exactly what they did in 2009 in 2010, here’s what the other guys in the Phillies pen would need to do this year to match the overall numbers for last year’s bullpen in those categories:

IP H BB SO
ERA Ratio
198 184 85 164 3.09 1.36

Golly. That’s a lot of pretty good innings the as yet unannounced pitchers would need to give to match a Phillies bullpen from 2009. They would need to pitch much better than the five pitchers in the pen combined to pitch last year. Even if they did, the 2009 Phillies bullpen wasn’t very good.

The five guys we know are in the pen aren’t going to do what they did in 2009 in 2010, of course. Brad Lidge will almost surely pitch better and if he doesn’t he will almost surely pitch less often. He was so miserable in 2009, though, he could still be a lot better without being good. Romero, too, seems like a good candidate to contribute more in ’10 than he did in ’09. In 2009 he threw just 16 2/3 innings for the Phils — if he does that in 2010 as well the Phils are going to have a whole bunch of problems.

Madson has had very similar numbers over the past three seasons as a full-time reliever. I think it’s possible he gets better in 2010, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Durbin’s 2009 wasn’t impressive, but it’s important to remember that he outperformed his career levels for ERA and ratio. He prevented home runs at a better rate and struck out batters more regularly than he has for his career. He was fantastic in the first half of 2008. Maybe he will be again, but I think it’s more reasonable to expect that his numbers for his career are the more relevant measuring stick.

Baez could see some improvement coming over from the American League, but he is coming off of his best year since 2005. The 1.13 ratio he posted in 2009 was outstanding, his best mark since 2001. He dropped his walk rate compared to his career levels, but his strikeouts dipped way below his career levels in 2009 and his batting average for balls in play was a tiny .232 on a Baltimore team where the average pitcher had a batting average for balls in play of .309. The .232 mark was the lowest it has been for Baez in any year of his career. I’m not saying that Baez isn’t going to help. Not at all. The Phillies need him. I am saying that he’s not going to have a 1.13 ratio this year.