This season has been quite the rollercoaster for me, considering I never thought in a thousand years that I would bare witness to the team I root for taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the World Series. Clearly, the dominance of Cole Hamels, tonight’s game five starter, has loomed large in the team reaching this juncture, but the work of their relief corps has been outstanding, and is another reason why they find themselves in a series-clinching game tonight. The bullpen of the Phillies was extremely solid all season long, posting one of the lowest ERAs in baseball while simultaneously producing one of the best FIPs. And, as mentioned last week, they threw the lowest percentage of fastballs of any bullpen in baseball, relying almost equally on offspeed pitches.
Against the Brewers, in the NLDS, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Chad Durbrin, JC Romero, Scott Eyre, and Clay Condrey allowed four earned runs in 10 innings of work. The sextet walked just three batters while striking out nine. The 3.60 ERA and 3.00 K/BB were both impressive, but they did allow 13 hits, as Durbin and Eyre combined to give up 6 hits in 1.2 innings. The big three of Lidge, Madson, and Romero, however, combined for: 7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K.
The Phillies won the series three games to one and moved onto play the Dodgers. JA Happ joined the previously mentioned six relievers in dominating the opposition, as the bullpen allowed just two earned runs in 18.2 innings of work. All told, their numbers were: 18.2 IP, 13 H, 2 ER, 12 BB, 17 K. The walks and strikeouts could be much better, but next to nobody scored in their appearances, as they produced an ERA below 1.00. The big three scattered six hits over 11.2 innings, walking six and striking out 13, all while stranding every baserunner that reached. Through the first two series tiers, the Phillies bullpen had posted the following numbers: 28.2 IP, 26 H, 6 ER, 15 BB, 26 K.
They then moved onto the World Series, to take on the Rays, who themselves had an extremely solid bullpen in the regular season. They had not been as stellar in the DS and CS, but had balance and depth that most other teams lacked. While they have faltered to some degree through four World Series games, the Phillies relievers have continued to flourish. Happ and Condrey have not seen action, but Lidge, Madson, Romero, Eyre, and Durbin have combined for 8.2 innings in which only one earned run has scored. Only two Rays batters have recorded hits off of this quintet, who suddenly stopped walking hitters. All told, they have walked one batter while striking out 12.
In the Division Series, the Phillies had decent K/BB numbers, but their ERA was higher than they would have liked. In the Championship Series, they drastically reduced the ERA, but their K/BB numbers got much worse. In the World Series, so far, they have put everything together, coupling a Bob Gibson-esque ERA with a Pedro Martinez circa 1999-2000 K/BB ratio. Having confidence in a bullpen can reduce the stress on a manager to make the decision of whether or not to keep a starter in the game, and the Phillies bullpen has done everything possible to earn this confidence. Will they all be this good next season? Who knows, but what is certainly clear is that if they can sustain their performances for at least one more game, they could end their season on the highest of high notes.
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