The Phillies bullpen is a healthy blend of veteran and younger arms that improved greatly this offseason with the addition of veteran Mike Adams. The backend of Bastardo, Papelbon and the aforementioned Adams should provide fantasy owners fine production in 2013 — especially those in holds+saves leagues.
Papelbon is the model of consistency at arguably the most inconsistent position in baseball. The Phillies’ right-hander took the hill a minimum of 59 games and saved at least 31 in each of the last six seasons between Boston and Philadelphia. Papelbon doesn’t exactly post Kimbrelian type strikeout numbers — but a 32.0 K% in ‘12 and a career 29.9% K% is nothing to be ashamed of. It does appear that Pap lost a tick on each of his three offerings, so one may want to keep an eye on that. But if you’re the type of fantasy owner that believes in paying for saves — but not as much as it would cost to snag Craig Kimbrel — then Papelbon is your guy.
The Setup Guys:
Antonio Bastardo (L)
As volatile as the closer’s role is on any staff, you always want to monitor the hurler that appears to be next-in-line. While the Phillies haven’t shown their hand yet, it looks as if Mike Adams and Antonio Bastardo are those guys.
The Phillies brought in 34 year-old veteran Mike Adams to solve their eighth-inning riddle believing that his down year in 2012 could be attributed to the switch to the American League and a late-season injury. He failed to finish the twenty-twelve season due to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome — “a rare condition characterized by pain in the neck and shoulder, numbness in the fingers and a weak grip” — an issue that was likely resolved when doctors sawed out one of his ribs (!?!) during the offseason. Adams hopes to fall back in line with his 2008-2011 form in which he posted a 1.71 ERA (3.71 FIP), 0.90 WHIP, 28.3% K%, 6.8 BB% and earned 95 holds.
Antonio Bastardo is another veteran arm at the backend of the Phillies’ bullpen that dishes from the left-side. The southpaw will aid your squad in strikeouts — he’s whiffed more than 31% of the batters he’s faced in the last two seasons — and holds — an average of more than 20 between ‘11-’12 — but he could be a liability in the ERA (4.33 in ‘12) and WHIP (1.27 in ‘12) departments if those numbers fail to fall in line with the underlying peripherals.
Stutes earned 13 holds in 2011 with a 3.63 ERA (4.07 FIP) and a 1.24 WHIP while striking out just 22.4% of the batters he faced. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to execute his slider in early ‘12 due to shoulder pain that eventually led to arthroscopic shoulder surgery and just six appearances. Stutes is back in camp this Spring battling for a spot in the bullpen after being sidelined for ten months. Stutes isn’t fantasy relevant unless you’re playing in the deepest of holds leagues.
Jeremy Horst, 27, appears to have the early edge to break camp with the big boys as the second lefty in the ‘pen. In 2011 he paired a 32% K% with a 1.15 ERA (2.39 FIP) in 32 appearances (31.1 IP) in a fine campaign. Durbin will crack camp with the Phils, but is a better real-life pitcher than in fantasy. Phillipe Aumont is a big right-hander who displayed some nice swing-and-miss stuff (12.9% SwStr%) in 18 appearances last season. However, a career walk rate north of 13% makes him a roto liability. Raul Valdes, 37, is another southpaw battling for a spot in the bullpen. He’s a steady reliever who struck out more than 10 per nine in 2012 while walking fewer than two per nine, but may need some help to make the team. Diekman has the strikeout potential, but like Aumont, needs to develop better control. He’s likely on the outside looking in.