In the previous post, we determined that the Phillies are likely to carry ten pitchers in the postseason's first round. The projected definites:
Starting Pitchers (4): Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt
Relief Pitchers (3): Madson, Bastardo, Worley
This leaves three postseason roster spots open, with eight candidates to fill them: Brad Lidge, David Herndon, Kyle Kendrick, Mike Stutes, Joe Blanton, Michael Schwimer, Justin De Fratus, and Joe Savery. (Note that Savery is the only left-handed pitcher in the group.) Before we look at the candidates, there are two points of business to cover.
Any player who was on the Phillies' MLB roster, as of August 31st, is eligible for the playoff roster. Any player who was in the Phillies' organization (i.e. minor leagues) on August 31st is eligible, as a replacement for a Disabled player. Jose Contreras (remember him?) is out for the season, and leaves an opening for a single minor leaguer to join the playoff roster. Among the pitchers competing for this one (possible) spot are Schwimer, De Fratus, and Savery. (This one spot could also be used for a position player, such as Domonic Brown, Brandon Moss, Pete Orr, or Erik Kratz.) It's possible that the Phillies will opt not to use this "extra" spot at all. They could also save it for a later round, and/or switch this one player each round.
Mistakes were made
The Phillies have a historically dominant starting rotation. It is very reasonable to expect that their starting four (plus Ryan Madson) will consume the large majority of the postseason innings.
But the bullpen has more than it's share of question marks. The Phillies should have anticipated these bullpen issues, and started addressing them sooner.
- Antonio Bastardo, in his first full season as a MLB reliever, has pitched in sixty-one games. This heavy workload appears to be affecting the young reliever, at a most inopportune time. Given Bastardo's importance as Madson's setup man, as the sole (currently) viable bullpen lefty, and as a potentially crucial piece of what projects as a very young bullpen in 2012, Bastardo's usage has been unconscionable.
- Michael Schwimer, Justin De Fratus, and Phillippe Aumont had outstanding seasons in AAA. However, only Schwimer (9.1 IP) has seen any time in MLB. If the three had been given some MLB time in August, it's possible one (or all) could be a viable option for the postseason bullpen. At worst, their respective viabilities for the 2012 bullpen could have been investigated, which would have aided in making offseason transactions/free agent signings.
- Joe Blanton has pitched only two innings, since his return from injury. A stretched-out-for-starting, healthy Blanton would not have cracked the playoff rotation. He could be one of the top six relief choices, but his lack of use render him a poor choice.
The (Probable) Final Three Relievers
Brad Lidge (15 IP, 3.66 xFIP)
Lidge has been wild, walking an obscene 7.2 batters, per nine innings. But, given his pedigree, and Manuel's style, it seems very likely that he will make the playoff roster. Hopefully, he won't see too many high leverage situations, and will benefit from some BABIP-luck in the postseason.
David Herndon (53.1 IP, 4.16 xFIP)
Herndon has pitched well, but three bad outings have scorched his stat-line. He does a good job inducing ground balls (54.9 GB%), and is a satisfactory middle reliever.
Kyle Kendrick (106.1 IP, 4.44 xFIP)
Kendrick has ridden a .259 BABIP to a successful season. His woeful 4.49 K/9 makes him a better fit for a AAA bullpen, than a MLB bullpen. He's adequate as a long reliever, and could help save the bullpen from overwork, if a rain delay knocks out the starting pitcher. With Vance Worley projecting as a crucial setup relief option, Kendrick is the best choice for the long relief role, despite not being a very good pitcher.
Mike Stutes (56.2 IP, 4.30 xFIP)
Stutes has been helped greatly by his .250 BABIP, and 80.4 LOB%. His K/9 of 8.42 is good, but his 4.13 BB/9 is bad news for any pitcher, particularly a reliever, who may inherit baserunners. He could be an option for a later round.
Joe Blanton (35.1 IP, 3.54 xFIP)
Blanton has been cursed by a .359 BABIP, and injury problems this season. Almost all of his appearances have been as a starter. As stated above, he hasn't pitched enough since his return, to be considered a viable option for the playoff 'pen.
Michael Schwimer (9.1 IP, 4.91 xFIP)
Schwimer had an incredible AAA season: 2.45 FIP, 11.38 K/9, 2.91 BB/9. But in his short MLB stint, he has been BABIP'd (.346), and has posted an unwieldy 6.75 BB/9. He has a bright future, but hasn't done enough to merit a postseason roster spot. If only he been recalled sooner...
Justin De Fratus (no MLB stats)
De Fratus, like Schwimer, had ridiculously good AAA numbers: 2.44 FIP, 12.29 K/9, 2.41 BB/9. With no MLB time under his belt, it's unlikely that he sees postseason time. De Fratus should be part of the MLB bullpen in 2012.
Joe Savery (no MLB stats)
Savery has had one of the strangest seasons in memory. Rejected in the Rule 5 Draft, was a heavy-hitting position player in the lower minors, finished as a reliever in AAA. His AAA stats: 25 IP, 1.84 FIP, 9.36 K/9, 2.16 BB/9. He doesn't have enough MLB innings (or any innings, really) to be considered for the playoff bullpen... except for the fact that he is left-handed. If Bastardo can't pitch, Savery would likely make the squad as the sole southpaw. If the Phillies want to carry two lefty relievers, at some point in the postseason, Savery is in. It could be argued that the Phillies would be better off choosing one of their more experienced relievers, rather than rostering Savery due to his left-handedness. But it's certainly within the realm of possibility that Savery sees some postseason action, a thought that would have seemed ludicrous even a month ago.