Details about when JC Romero will be able to contribute to the Phillies pen remain uncertain, so it seems likely that the Phillies opening day roster will include lefty Antonio Bastardo or his fellow lefty Sergio Escalona. Or both.

So it seems important to be able to tell them apart.

Neither of the two is especially young. Escalona will turn 26 in August and Bastardo will turn 25 in September.

Both made their major league debuts with the Phillies in 2009. Bastardo had some ugly numbers. He appeared in six games for the Phils, five of which were starts, and threw to a 6.46 ERA with a 1.48 ratio. He allowed four home runs in 23 2/3 innings. Bastardo also found himself onto the post-season roster for the Phillies and saw action in the both the NLDS and the NLCS. He faced two batters in the post-season. He struck out Jason Giambi to end the eighth inning of game two of the NLDS. In game one of the NLCS he pitched to Andre Ethier in a key spot. He started the seventh with the Phils up 5-4 to pitch to Andre Ethier. Ethier doubled and Bastardo was pulled. It took some nifty pitching from Chan Ho Park to get the Phillies out of the inning still on top. Bastardo didn’t get the ball again.

Escalona didn’t make any starts for the Phillies in 2009, but did pitch 14 times in relief. Over 13 2/3 innings he threw to a 4.61 ERA and a 1.24 ratio. He didn’t allow a home run and struck out 10.

Here’s what the two have done in the high minors:

  G GS IP ERA Ratio
AA 25 19 103 3.05 1.18
AAA 2 2 13 2.08 1.08
Combined 27 21 116 2.95 1.17
  G GS IP ERA Ratio
AA 47 0 65 1.94 1.32
AAA 15 1 19 2/3 5.95 1.48
Combined 62 1 84 2/3 2.87 1.36

First things first — the biggest difference between the two is that Bastardo spent most of his time in the high minors preparing to be a starter while Escalona pitched almost exclusively in relief. That was the way the Phillies used them initially in 2009 as well, but to start 2009 it looks like if either of them were on the roster they would be pitching out of the pen.

The second big thing you notice when looking at the numbers in the high minors is how much higher Escalona’s ratio has been than Bastardo.

Escalona has spent a lot more time in the low minor leagues. Here’s the percentage of minor league innings each has thrown at various levels:

Antonio Bastardo
Level % of minor
league IP
Rookie 10.1
A 33.7
A+ 13.5
AA 37.9
AAA 4.8
Above A 56.2
Total IP
above A
152 2/3

Sergio Escalona
Level % of minor
league IP
Summer League
A- 8.9
A 27.3
A+ 1.3
AA 21.2
AAA 6.4
Above A 28.9
Total IP
above A
88 2/3

Despite being a year older, Escalona has thrown a little more than half the innings that Bastardo has thrown above A-ball. Bastardo is a starter, of course, but even as a percentage of their minor league innings he’s still way above Escalona.

Across all levels, neither of them has allowed a lot of home runs. At all minor league levels combined, not just Double-A and Triple-A, Bastardo has allowed 21 home runs in 271 2/3 innings. That’s about 0.69 per nine innings. Escalona has been even better at keeping the ball in the park. He’s allowed just 16 home runs in 308 2/3 innings at all minor league levels combined, which is about 0.47 per nine innings.

Both have struck out more than a batter per inning in the minors. Bastardo has been a little more prolific with the strikeouts — he’s struck out 10.0 per nine innings in the minors compared to about 9.07 per nine for Escalona.

Both have been good at preventing hits. But while Escalona has been good, Bastardo has been outstanding in the minors. 8.6 hits per nine innings for Escalona and a meager 6.7 per nine for Bastardo.

They both have walked too many people in the minor leagues. Despite allowing less than a hit per inning, Escalona has a career ratio of 1.42 in the minors and that’s cause he walks too many batters. 4.1 batters per nine for his minor league career. He’s never had a single year at any level in which he has pitched to a combined ratio for the season of 1.20 or better. Bastardo’s walk rate in the minors has been high, too. He’s walked 3.9 batters per nine in the minors overall. That’s too many, but he really had his walks under control in 2009. Between the four minor league teams he pitched for in ’09, Bastardo walked just 12 hitters in 54 1/3 innings or about 2.0 per nine innings. That’s a big change from his minor league rate of 4.4 walks per nine innings in the minors going into the ’09 season.

For both players it looks like keeping their walks down is going to be a key to future success — despite the fact that Escalona had better results in limited action with the Phils in 2009, Bastardo is the only one of the pair that has shown he may be able to do that.

This says that Cole Hamels will try to add a slider or cut fastball to his pitches this spring training.