Photo: Philliedelphia/Frank Klose
The 2013 Phillies bullpen pitcher picture got a little bit clearer today as the Phillies sent two of their top candidates to AAA. Justin DeFratus and Jake Diekman, two pitchers with great stuff and huge upside, will have to hone their skills in Lehigh Valley to begin the 2013 season. After each showed some rough edges this weekend and others excelled, they made the decision for the team.
DeFratus last pitched Friday against Tampa Bay Rays. In two innings of work, DeFratus walked one and gave up three hits. Diekman pitched the ninth inning of the Phillies' 7-0 victory over the New York Yankees. Despite a seven run lead, Diekman failed to go right after hitters. Both showed that they have great talent and will be asssets to the Phillies bullpen, but they must work out some issues before finding a permanent spot on the roster. I am sure the Phillies will see both before the year is over.
Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdes both have had impressive Springs. Valdes pitched three scoreless innings on Sunday in a bullpen game. Cole Hamels pitched in a minor league scrimmage instead to give the team the opportunity to get a look at some of the final bullpen spot candidates and Valdes stepped up. Horst did get rocked in one game but pitched a perfect game on Friday. Both may make the Phillies bullpen.
The Phillies bullpen projects right now to have these five:
It appears the final two will be out of RHP Michael Stutes, LHP Jeremy Horst and LHP Raul Valdes.
If Valdes makes the team then Durbin will be the long-man. If Valdes makes the team then he likely will be the long-man while Durbin moves later in the game to the seventh inning spot that Stutes excelled in back in 2011. Stutes is currently pitching to a 3.86 ERA. With the luxury of some extra arms the Phillies may decide to give his arm some time in AAA to recover from last season's season-ending surgery.
This may go down to the wire.