NLDS Preview Part II : Relief Pitching

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, September 29, 2008 07:10 PM | Comments: 18

We continue our seven-part look at the NLDS.

Part II : Relief Pitching

MR: Clay Condrey (3-4, 3.26 ERA, 34 K, 19 BB)
MR: Rudy Seanez (5-4, 3.53 ERA, 30 K, 25 BB)
MR: Scott Eyre (5-0, 4.21 ERA, 32 K, 7 BB)
MR: Chad Durbin (5-4, 2.87 ERA, 63 K, 35 BB)
SR: JC Romero (4-4, 2.75 ERA, 52 K, 38 BB)
SR: Ryan Madson (4-2, 3.05 ERA, 67 K, 23 BB)
CR: Brad Lidge (2-0, 41 SV, 1.95 ERA, 92 K, 35 BB)

MR: Mitch Stetter (3-1, 3.20 ERA, 31 K, 19 BB)
MR: Seth McClung (6-6, 4.02 ERA, 87 K, 55 BB)
MR: Carlos Villanueva (4-7, 4.07 ERA, 93 K, 30 BB)
MR: David Riske (1-2, 5.31 ERA, 27 K, 25 BB)
MR: Eric Gagne (4-3, 5.44 ERA, 38 K, 22 BB)
SR: Brian Shouse (5-1, 2.81 ERA, 33 K, 13 BB)
SR: Guillermo Mota (5-6, 4.11 ERA, 50 K, 28 BB)
CR: Salomon Torres (7-5, 28 SV, 3.49 ERA, 51 K, 33 BB)

Bullpens are still not completely known, but this is a raw idea.

You’d think the Brewers bullpen was horrible considering everyone is saying it’s their Achilles heel. Don’t be fooled. The Brewers’ 3.83 bullpen ERA is ninth in the majors. It isn’t the Phils’ 3.19 ERA, but it’s respectable. The Brews’ heel in the pen is at closer, where they haven’t solidified that role completely. Currently it’s Torres. The 36-year-old has struggled recently — he’s given up 12 earned runs in September.

Getting to Torres has also been a problem. Gagne just doesn’t have it, and gives up a wealth of home runs, so Phillies’ bats better be ready to pounce if he finds time. Mota gives up close to a hit per inning, and has worse than a 2:1 K:BB ratio. He’s definitely hittable. For the Brewers to succeed they’ll likely rely on the left-handed Shouse, who would pose problems for the big bats in the middle. Lefties are hitting just .180 against him in 100 at bats. Charlie Manuel may want to think about breaking up Chase Utley and Ryan Howard for Shouse alone.

Riske was a veteran risk and is now out for the season, so look for Villanueva to get considerable time if the Brewers need a sixth- or seventh-inning reliever. He piles up strikeouts with his weird delivery, which kills timing. He and McClung serve as proficient swing men, much like Durbin of the Phils. Stetter might get a spot on the playoff roster because he’s a lefty, and would serve as a middle-innings LOOGY against the big bats (lefties are .158 in 38 at bats).

The Phillies come into the series touting the National League’s top bullpen. What a difference a year makes. The main reason has been Lidge, who hasn’t shown any reason to think he’ll blow a save. As long as he’s rested — which he should be — he’ll get the job done.

Getting to Lidge has been the pen’s only real problem, and even that hasn’t been a big deal. It looks as if Madson will be the eighth inning guy, with Romero waiting to face lefties. That means, hopefully, Romero gets Fielder and any lefty pinch hitters, and it’s mainly up to Madson. Against the big-swinging Crew, I like Madson in this series.

The sixth and seventh innings go to Durbin and Eyre, who provide more ground balls than the K-happy Romero and Madson. They’re effective when they locate their pitches low in the zone. Durbin has had a bout of trouble lately, but in a short series, any trouble will mean a quick exit. And if the Phils need a big out without using the big boys, Seanez can do the trick at times. Condrey is there for mop-up work, but hopefully won’t have that opportunity. He could get a big out or two along the line.

Analysis: Obviously I like the Phils bullpen much more here. There’s an organization to it. Condrey and Seanez if need be; Durbin and Eyre for the sixth and seventh; Romero and Madson for the seventh and eighth; Lidge in the ninth. If anyone were to have trouble in the series, I’d think it’d be Romero, who might be called on to pitch to righties and lose control.

At first glance, the Brewers bullpen reminds one of last year’s Phillies bullpen. Uncertainty at closer, some mediocre veteran arms in the middle, some possibly hot pieces, but overall, an unorganized mess. Still, in a short series you can never be too nervous. If Milwaukee starters go seven innings and Dale Sveum calculates a rotation of Villanueva, Shouse and McClung before getting to Torres, it might be hairy for the Phils.

Sitll, I think the Phils could and possibly will win a game off the Brewers bullpen. It could be game one, if Yovani Gallardo is tapped for that start. I can’t necessarily see the Crew taking one of the Phils pen, but anything can happen.

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About Tim Malcolm

Tim Malcolm has written 1947 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Mike T.

    i think neither team has the upper hand here. i still think lidge blows one in the playoffs – he’s just about due.

  • Posts: 0 Richie Allen

    I think we have the bullpen to win this thing…The big question is whats goin on in Myers coconut now…Will we get.. behind door #1.a great outing..,or door #2 a lackluster performance?
    This is the time for him to show us that he has that big game performance in his bag..

  • Posts: 0 Greg B

    I agree this post-season is every opportunity for guys like Hamels and Myers to show their grit and merit.
    Which offense are we going to see? Utley/Howard have a lot to prove after last years series as well.

  • Posts: 0 PhillyGirlinMichigan

    Everyone gives big kudos to Lidge and often forgets how good the rest of our BP is. Yes, Lidge has been great- but look at how razor-sharp Durbin was most of the year. He stranded countless guys in scoring position by getting double plays. Madson started off a bit shaky this year but has been dominant lately. Even Condrey has had a great year compared to most white flag guys in the leauge. I think he may actually see some important innings in the playoffs. Overall much better crew than last year and our record in the late innings shows it.

    Seems starters are “allowed” to give up some runs, yet the relievers never get much room for error. Fans hammer them when they allow a run – but overlook them when they do their job (especially when they’re not the “closer”).

    OK – off my “respect the lowly MR’s soapbox” :) – Regarding the upcoming series, its key that they’re finally getting some rest so hopefully Romero & Durbin will be back to their “dim the lights” selves. At least Durbin’s past few games went pretty well so there’s hope w/him. Romero will bounce back as well I’m sure as he’s got experience in these big games and has had several days off. Its actually Lidge that worries me a bit. I just hope the pressure doesn’t get to him. Unlike everyone else, I’m not sold… almost…

    Go Phils!!! At least I can WATCH this time! TBS doesn’t suck like Fox does…

  • Posts: 0 Dan

    Hi All,
    As a Brewers fan, I’d like to say thanks for the blog, it’s an easy way to familiarize myself with the Phillies.
    I can give you a bit more info on our bullpen. First, Riske is hurt, had surgery, and will not be on the roster. I would guess either Dillard or DeFelice would take his spot. Both are decent, but inexperienced.
    For innings 7 and 8, it will most likely be Gagne and Mota, in that order. As of late, they’ve been pitching well, but much like it seems you have a problem with Myers, it’s the same thing with both of these guys. Who knows which side of each will be on the mound on any given night.
    Shouse and Stetter have been solid, Shouse particularly good at keeping inherited runners from scoring. Stetter is inconsistant, but should make the post season roster.
    McClung has been stellar as of late. He does sometimes have trouble to start outings. I’m not sure if that’s due to bouncing between starting and the bullpen, or what the problem is. We traded Grant Balfour to the Rays for McClung last year, and so far it’s a trade that’s worked out for both teams.
    Torres has done WAY more then what he signed up for, but he is 36, and is obviously getting tired. Hopefully this few days of rest will get him back on track. The past few weeks have been terrible. 8.53 ERA in September. Not a good stat for a closer.
    Todd Coffey has been great since we picked him up on waivers, but that was Sept 10th, so he in not eligible for post season play.
    Well, that is my two cents. I hope it helps.
    May the best team win!!!

  • Posts: 0 ryan

    wow. their bullpen is even worse than the mets’

  • Posts: 0 Phil

    Well said Dan. Better than anything a Mets fan would say.l

  • Posts: 0 Brian

    Hey Phillies fans, just wanted you to wish you luck in the postseason.

  • Posts: 0 NEPA

    ryan – nothing is worse than the Mets bullpen, nothing. For a team that far above .500, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a pathetic bullpen, it was like clockwork every tight game.

  • Posts: 0 The Proc

    Let’s go Phillies!

    And let’s go Dodgers and Angels so I can go to both the NLCS and World Series!!!!!!!!!!!!

    LOL @ The METS!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Posts: 1650 Tim Malcolm

    Avatar of Tim Malcolm

    Thanks, Dan. For some reason I totally overlooked Riske being out for the year. I edited that part.

  • Posts: 0 Francis Forte

    Hamels vs Gallardo is a win. Myers can hang with CC he likes pitching under pressure and usually settles in well. Moyer vs either Bush/Parra/Suppan I’ll take any of them. The bullpen is much better for the Phils, Lidge will continue to be perfect and finish MVP of the World Series.

  • Posts: 0 J-Man

    I just hope we can take care of this young pitcher and not get dominated again like the Rockies young pitchers did to us last year.

  • Posts: 0 J-Man

    Another thing is were gonna need the Lidge from the regular season to show up and not the Lidge from the playoffs a couple of years ago with Houston because we all know what happened to him there.

  • Posts: 0 mike m

    I can’t believe we are the playoff experience team. Durbin scares me. The league has caught up with him. Madson never use him in eighth or nineth. He is not good in pressure situations.I trust eyre more than them.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    One things for sure, the bats are going to need to get down to business ‘right off the bat’ and that’s whats going to win or loose the series. Francis I love your enthusiasm at the prospect of Brett hanging with CC but the way that guys pitching right now no-ones keeping up with him unless you have him over 100 pitches through 6 or hit him hard early.

  • Posts: 0 Amanda

    lidge named comeback player of the year for the NL!

  • Posts: 0 Peter

    Tim Kurkijan(sp?) from ESPN said that Mitch Stetter from the Brewers has the most unhittable slider in the majors according to the stats

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