The 2011 Phillies Nation Player Reviews continue today with the rest of the Phillies 2011 bullpen.
Jose was handed the ball to end games to open the season in place of the injured Brad Lidge. He converted on 5 of 5 save attempts without giving up a run before being sidelined with a strained elbow on April 25. When Contreras returned in May, he was not the same effective pitcher he had been and ended the season with a 3.86 ERA, posting the highest BB/9 IP of his career. Contreras was shut-down for good after the Phils’ Seattle road trip but hopes to play out the remainder of his 2 year, $5.5 million contract.
JC wasn’t as bad for the Phils in 2011 as he was frustrating. Romero was plagued by horrible inconsistency and put allowed 37.3% of batters he faced to reach base. Romero was effective against lefties but allowed righties to walk all over him. After being released in June, Romero played Triple-A ball for the Nationals and Yankees before reaching the Majors again with the Rockies.
Scott Mathieson was supposed to be one of the young crop of pitching, including Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson, and Brett Myers, that were to lead the Phillies out of years of mediocrity and into the 2010s perennial contenders. Unfortunately, after reaching the Majors at age 22 in 2006, Mathieson has battled injury after injury. But the resilient Canadian put together a strong 2010 and 2011 in Triple-A and saw Major League action in both years. Mathieson did not give up a run in 5 Major League innings but did scatter 9 hits and 3 walks. He held righties to a .111 BAA, allowing only 1 hit but was lit up by lefties at a .615 clip. Mathieson is an interesting project moving forward as he continues to improve moving further away from his surgery. The only thing working against Mathieson as time as he enters his age 28 season in 2012.
In 2007, Mike Zagurski quickly became a fan favorite. Despite posting a 5.91 ERA that year, Zagurski was a power lefty that challenged hitters and worked primarily with his fastball. Fans were excited by the promise of the then 24-year old reliever as the Phillies were a playoff-bound team for the first time that year.
Fast-forward to 2011 and Big Z, after a successful early season stretch in Lehigh Valley, had an opportunity with the release of JC Romero to be the second left-handed pitcher out of the ‘pen. Unfortunately, Z posted a deceptively promising career-best 5.40, but saw his BB/9 IP, and HR/9 IP nearly double against his career average while being significantly luckier in BABIP than he was during his stints with the club in ’07 and ’10. Z still threw his fastball at nearly a 70% clip, but surgeries and recovery had taken some zip off it and he struggled with control more than he had. Even in a bad season, Zagurski was still not the least valuable member of the Phillies ‘pen, and was worth twice as much in dollar value according to FanGraphs than Andrew Carpenter was.
The Phils traded Z to the Diamondbacks in September for a player to be named, who did not use him. There is speculation he may become one of the distinguished players to be traded for himself.
Baez posted the lowest WAR (-0.4) of any Phils pen pitcher and had a 6.25 ERA. He had a K/BB barely over 1, let nearly 40% of the runners he let on score, and through all of this “success”, only managed to blow one save. Baez never regained the promise he showed with the Indians and Rays he displayed in the early 2000s and is the first no-doubt-about-it certifiable bust in the Ruben Amaro Jr. GM. Not much more to say here. Unfortunately, Baez was robbed at a shot at the negative WAR crown by Amaro who designated and released Baez mid-season.
The best Major League season Andrew Carpenter had was 2008. In one inning, Carp K’ed 1 and allowed no runs. Since then, the former second-round pick has been unable to find consistent success in the Major Leagues. In 23.1 Major League innings since, Carp has walked 11, struck out 23 while giving up 23 earned runs. He has averaged nearly 2 runners per inning and almost 2 HR/9 IP. Carpenter had a very successful 34 games in Triple-A for the Pigs; a season where he transitioned into a reliever, Carp posted a 1.79 ERA across 60.1 IP, striking out 65 while only walking 11. His line of 7.71 ERA in 9.1 innings pitched with 10 Ks v. 4 BB and 2 bombs given up was not enough to keep him around on the big club and San Diego very quietly claimed him off of waivers. A change of scenery was not the trick as Carp would post an 8.44 ERA for the Friars.
The Phillies had two left-handed pitchers who had comeback stories from the depths of the deep minors in 2011. One finally fulfilled a lifelong drive and fulfilled promise he showed in a dazzling 2007 College World Series. The other was Juan Perez.
Perez became only the 9th player in MLB history to record three strikeouts on 9 pitches when he accomplished the feat in Atlanta on July 8. Perez filled a much-needed lefty void during his mid-season call-up, but unraveled late in the season upon his demotion.
Perez relied heavily on a slider against left-handed hitters. In five innings, he K’ed 8 while giving up only 1 hit, 2 ER, and surrendering 5 walks. Perez was very good for the Phillies but could not continue his success upon his demotion, giving up 14 ER in just 6.1 Innings while walking 5 for LV, including 3 huge ER in Game 2 of the Governor’s cup. Perez’s ineffectiveness down the stretch hampered the Pigs and nearly cost them their first playoff spot.
Perez did provide a stabilizing presence for a depleted ‘pen midseason and was scoreless in all but one outing. He did exactly what he was asked to do but didn’t set the world on fire.
Grades: Phillies 8/10, Iron Pigs 0/10
Joe Savery pitched exactly 2.2 innings over 4 games across 7 days for the Phillies. I don’t need to tell anyone that that is an incredibly small sample size to determine anything. Savery, however, was, for me, the most compelling Phillies regular season story. At 25, the former 2007 first-round pick began the season mashing the ball in High-A as a first baseman after an unsuccessful (1-12, 4.63 ERA) 2010 in Lehigh Valley as a starting pitcher. Mid-season, Savery was called up to Double-A. To pitch in relief.
Savery threw 9 innings in Reading, only surrendering one earned run and posting a 14 K/9 IP rate and was then quickly called up to Lehigh Valley, where he threw 25 innings, posting a 9.36 K/9 IP and lowering his BB/9 IP to a minor league career-best 2.16. These stellar numbers came against a relatively unlucky .338 BABIP number in Triple-A. Savery regained much of the velocity and control that made him a college star at Rice, where his bat and arm helped them win the 2007 CWS.
According to Ryan Lawrence of the Delco Times, Savery fought back tears when informed he was being called up: Savery had given thought to giving up baseball to join his father’s real estate business. Instead, he ended the season staying loose for a World Series contender with an outside shot to make the post-season roster. In favorable situations, Savery did not allow a run and struck out 2 in 2.2 IP with the Phillies. Savery is young, cheap, effective and his journey to the big leagues as an underdog is one Philly fans can relate to and get behind. It would not surprise me to see Savery as the second left-handed pitcher out of the ‘pen next season.
Using hard metrics: Incomplete/10. Using human emotion: 10+/10.
Justin De Fratus was the most anticipated Phillies relief pitcher to debut in quite some time. De Fratus has been successful at every level of the minors and, at age 23, looked like he belonged in short work with the big club. Using a fastball and slider, De Fratus started the season in Double A and was promoted mid-season to the Pigs. De Fratus has had success as a strikeout pitcher with limited walks and almost never surrenders the long ball. Statistically, De Fratus has shown improvement across most advanced stats even when being promoted year-to-year. De Fratus threw 4 innings for the Phils, striking out 3, walking three, only giving up 1 hit and 1 ER. De Fratus will have the best shot out of any of the young ‘pen arms to see immediate action in 2012.
Using hard metrics: Incomplete/10. Using the “Get excited, this kid is going to be good” meter: 10/10.