Philadelphia Phillies: Is Bullpen Management Their Key to the World Series?

July 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have had a fantastic first half of the season, dealing with both disappointment and the injury bug to come out with the best record in baseball. 

While three of their four aces have lived up to staggering expectations, one of the biggest surprises this year has been the success of the Phillies bullpen. It seems as if the only time the bullpen falters is when a starter is taken out early—in close games the unit seems to always get the job done. 

As of July 6, if you looked at the Phillies bullpen, it would seem as if you were looking at that of the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. Out of Juan Perez, Scott Mathieson, David Herndon, Danys Baez, Mike Zagurski, Andrew Carpenter, Michael Stutes, and Antonio Bastardo, only Herndon, Baez, and Bastardo were on the Phillies’ opening-day roster. 

And Herndon and Baez were regarded as mop-up guys. 

Stutes and Bastardo have been brilliant, but what about when the top guys get back? 

The biggest issue of the second half could be having too much of a good thing in the bullpen, with Charlie Manuel needing to get all of his guys innings. With the returns of Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, and Jose Contreras looming, Manuel will have a very difficult task in getting the most success out of all of his pitchers. 

With the Phillies’ rotation, come playoff time middle relief should not be a huge issue. With four pitchers having great years—along with one proven closer—the Phillies’ chances could be determined by how Uncle Cholly manages the bullpen. 

If he pulls all the right strings, it gives the best team in baseball yet another strength.

If not, and his decisions mess with the team chemistry, it could prevent another parade on Broad Street.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies