Phillies Could Have a Strong, Home-Grown Bullpen on Horizon

Posted by Frank Klose

Courtesy of Michael Schwimer's Twitter Page

Last night, both Justin DeFratus and Phillippe Aumont shared the news via twitter:

The Phillies are in uncharted territory: next year or soon thereafter they could have one strong, homegrown bullpen.  In recent years, the Phillies have converted some of their starters into relievers with this in mind; at least on a minor-league level, they have shown success:

At AA Reading:

Justin DeFratus: 4-0, 2.10 ERA, 8 saves, 34 1/3 innings; 43 strikeouts
Phillippe Aumont: 1-5 2.32 ERA, 31 innings; 41 strikeouts

At AAA Lehigh Valley:

Michael Schwimer: 3-0, 1.45 ERA, 37 1/3 innings, 49 strikeouts

(And on a lesser level as prospect status seems to have dwindled some):

Mike Zagurski: 2-0, 1.86 ERA, 19 innings, 31 strikeouts, 10 saves
Scott Mathieson: 0-0, 2.93 ERA, 27 2/3 innings, 28 strikeouts, 5 saves

Looking Ahead in the Big Club:

The Phillies have had solid performances from three relievers this sesason:

Ryan Madson: 3-1, 2.10 ERA, 30 innings, 33 strikeouts, 15 saves
Mike Stutes: 0-0, 2.25 ERA, 20 innings, 21 strikeouts
Antonio Bastardo: 3-0, 1.05 ERA, 25 2/3 innings, 30 strikeouts

Danys Baez, Brad Lidge, and J.C. Romero leave as a free agents after 2010.  David Herndon can be optioned to the minors at any time.

Ryan Madson is going to be a free agent, but if his last free agency is any indication, he will want to re-sign with the Phillies.  He has indicated that he wants to remain a Phillie and wants to close, and the opportunity may be now.  The Phillies would, of course, commit closer money to Madson.  They have paid Brad Lidge around $12 million a year in 2009, 2010, and 2011, so I do not think that would be a rpoblem.

So, if Madson re-signs, the Phillies will have Madson, Bastardo, Stutes, and Contreras returning from their 2011 squad.  Kyle Kendrick could return as the long man again, should the Phillies tender him a contract.

This leaves either two or three spots in the bullpen for the Phillies' young arms to break in.  The only one issue is that Aumont, Schwimer, DeFratus, and Mathieson are all right-handed pitchers.   If Zagurski can ever translate his minor league success to the majors, he could fill the second left-handed slot the Phillies have wide open.

As we have seen with Zagurski and Mathieson, minor-league success has not always translated to immediate major league success.  But, the opportunities should be wide open for one or two of them to step up.

The Phillies could have one really strong bullpen in 2012.