Most fans will remember that the bullpen in 2010 was nothing special for the Phils, and that they lost the NLCS after Juan Uribe broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning of game six with a home run off of Ryan Madson. I’m guessing that fewer remember that

  • Madson was pitching his second inning of the game after throwing a scoreless seventh
  • He threw 32 pitches in the game and Uribe’s homer came on his 28th pitch of the game
  • He had thrown in game four (32 pitches in 1 2/3 innings) and game five (one inning, 13 pitches) with an off-day between games five and six
  • He pitched in five of the six games in the NLCS, throwing 6 2/3 innings in five appearances over six games. The rest of team combined to throw 12 1/3 innings in relief in the NLCS, including Oswalt’s work in relief in game four.
  • In game two of the NLCS he started the ninth and pitched a scoreless inning with a five-run lead

So the Phils leaned hard on Madson in the NLCS. And he pitched well, allowing a run in the five appearances on the Uribe homer over 6 2/3 innings. They leaned hard on him at the end of the regular season as well. From July 15 through September 29, Madson made 43 appearances for the Phils in which he threw to a 1.54 ERA and an 0.88 ratio over 41 innings while striking out 49. From August 20 through September 15, the Phillies played 27 games and Madson appeared in 18 of them.

Only two pitchers threw more innings in relief for the Phils in 2010 than Madson did. Contreras threw 3 2/3 more innings and Durbin threw 15 2/3 more innings. But Madson missed more than two full months of the season — he didn’t pitch between April 28 and July 8.

If the question is whether the Phillies leaned too hard on Madson or not, I think the answer is yes. There’s no question that Madson was the best bullpen arm the Phillies had in 2010, but they did have four other guys that made at least 50 appearances with an ERA+ better than 100 for the year (Lidge, Durbin, Contreras and Romero).

Regardless of whether the Phillies asked too much of Madson last year or not, their NLCS loss had a lot more to do with their ability to produce runs than it did with their ability to prevent them. It did make me wonder, though, how the performance of the bullpen in the post-season over the past four years has compared to the performance of the bullpen in the regular season.

Here’s the ERA and ratio that the Phillies bullpen has thrown to over the past four years, both during the regular season and in the post-season. Also included is the team’s rank for the year in the NL in runs allowed per bullpen inning pitched.

Year Regular Season ERA Regular Season Ratio NL R Pen R/IP Post-season ERA Post-season ratio
2007 4.50 1.50 13 6.52 1.76
2008 3.22 1.38 1 1.79 1.21
2009 3.91 1.38 9 4.20 1.52
2010 4.02 1.39 8 1.89 1.21

Compared to the rest of the NL, the bullpen was really bad in 2007 during the regular season. It was terrible during the post-season as well as the Phils were swept by the Rockies. Matt Holliday homered off of Gordon in game one as they Phils fell 4-2. Game two was a nightmare in which Lohse, Mesa and Condrey combined to allow five runs in 3 1/3 innings after an early exit by Kendrick and the Phils were blown out. With two outs, nobody on and the game tied at 1-1 in the eighth inning of game three, JC Romero allowed three straight singles and a run that put Colorado on top to stay at 2-1.

By runs allowed per inning pitched, the Phillies were the best pen in the NL in 2008. They were fantastic in the post-season as well as Lidge, Madson and Romero combined to thrown 29 1/3 innings over 14 games and allowed four runs while throwing to a 1.23 ERA with an 0.85 ratio. The other guys in the pen combined to throw just 11 innings. After allowing four runs in four games against the Brewers, the bullpen would allow just five runs in the ten games they played against the Dodgers and Rays. One of those runs was unearned. In game one of the NLCS, Madson and Lidge combined to throw two scoreless innings of relief as the Phils beat the Dodgers 3-2. There were five games in the 2008 World Series and the Phillies won three of them by one run. In game one, Madson and Lidge combined to strike out three in two perfect innings as the Phils won 3-2. In game three, Madson surrendered a run to BJ Upton and the Rays in the eighth to tie the game at 4-4, but Romero followed him with 1 1/3 scoreless frames and the Phils won 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth when Ruiz’s dribbler scored Bruntlett. Madson, Lidge and Romero out-pitched the Tampa Bay pen in part two of game five as the Phils won 4-3.

The bullpen was nowhere near as good in the post-season in 2009. Blanton appeared in relief in games two and three, allowing runs in both appearances.

Madson allowed two runs on four hits in the eighth inning of game one of the NLCS with the Dodgers, but the Phils held on to win 8-6. Chan Ho Park started the eighth inning of game two with a 1-0 lead and allowed a pair of runs in game two and the Phils lost 2-1. After game two the pen was great, holding the Dodgers to a run (charged Park in the eighth inning of game five with the Phils up 9-3) over 8 2/3 innings.

The ’09 World Series started well for the pen. Lee threw a complete game to start the series as the Phils took a 1-0 lead. They lost game two 3-1, with all three runs charged to Pedro Martinez. They failed in game three, though. The Phils jumped out to a 3-0 lead before New York took a 5-3 lead off of Hamels with two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth. Happ, Durbin and Myers followed Hamels — all three of them allowed runs and they combined to give up three runs over 3 2/3 innings. Lidge got hammered in game four after a regular season in which he had thrown to a 7.21 ERA. The ninth started tied at 4-4. Lidge got the first two. Damon singled, stole second, stole third. Lidge hit Teixeira. A-Rod doubled. 5-4 with men on second and third. Posada hit a two-run single to make it 7-4, which was how it ended. Madson allowed a run on three hits in the ninth inning of game five, but the Phils held on for an 8-6 win. Pedro had nothing in game six, but Durbin didn’t do much to put out the fire. With the Phils down 4-1, Durbin started the fifth and was charged with three runs (with an assist to Happ, who gave up a two-run double to Matsui with both runs charged to Durbin).

The one of these things that’s not like the others for the Phils was the 2010 post-season. The Phillie bullpen was far from fantastic in the 2010 regular season, but pitched very well in the post-season. The Phils got two complete games while sweeping the Reds in the NLDS, one from Halladay and one from Hamels. In the other, Oswalt went just five innings, but was backed up by Romero, Durbin, Contreras, Madson and Lidge, who combined to allow a hit and two walks over four scoreless frames.

The bullpen didn’t allow a run in the first three games of the NLCS, either, making it the first six games of the 2010 post-season that the bullpen had not been charged with a run. Madson and Lidge combined to throw two scoreless innings in game one, but the Phils lost by a run anyway. Madson allowed a walk and a hit in the only inning thrown by the pen in game two, but the Phils rolled to a 6-1 win behind Oswalt. Contreras threw two perfect innings behind Hamels in game three as the Phils managed just three hits and fell 3-0 to fall behind two games to one.

They lost game four, too. They started the bottom of the sixth up 4-3, but Durbin allowed a pair of runs on two doubles and two walks and the Giants pulled ahead 5-4. The Phils tied the game in the top of the eighth on back-to-back doubles by Howard and Werth. Oswalt started the ninth with the game still tied, but allowed back-to-back singles with one out to put men on first and third. Uribe hit a fly ball deep enough for Aubrey Huff to tag, score and win the game for the Giants.

In game five, Contreras, Romero, Madson and Lidge combined to throw three scoreless frames in relief of Halladay and the Phils took the game 4-2 to stay alive. Madson, for the record, looked fantastic as he struck out the side on 13 pitches in a perfect eighth.

Not so much in game six, though. In Madson’s second inning of work, Uribe homered off of him to put the Giants on top to stay at 3-2.