Countdown To Opening Day 2012: 33 Days

March 4th, 2012 by Mike H. | Filed under Baseball, Phillies.

Spring Training games are officially underway and the Phillies fell to the New York Yankees to start Grapefruit Play. While the games are virtually meaningless, it was very nice to see so many of the prospects and potential players fighting for roster spots get into the game, especially Martinez, Orr, Frandsen, and Luna. Frandsen won the first round of this battle going one for two with a two run home run. Considering we looked at the possible fits to round out the bench yesterday, today we’ll take a look at the bullpen, the reciprocal factor in who makes the team as the 25th man.

Determining how deep to go with the bullpen will be one of the hardest decisions the Phillies coaching staff will have to make this time next month. For the first time, in what seems like forever, the Phillies depth in the bullpen isn’t just quantity, but also quality. Right now the Phillies have five spots locked up and just one or two remaining.

  • Jonathan Papelbon (CL)
  • Jose Conteras (RH SU)
  • Antonio Bastardo (LH SU)
  • Chad Qualls
  • Kyle Kendrick (Swing)

So who else is going to be sitting in the away team bullpen in Pittsburgh at the end of the first week in April?  That question isn’t so easy to answer. And how many people will be sitting in the bullpen is another. So let’s break some of the potential options down. First and foremost, the Phillies should not feel comfortable going in the season with just Antonio Bastardo as your only left-handed reliever.

Dontrelle Willis: The “D-Train” is in his first full season as a converted starter. Willis moved to the bullpen and has the upside of being a really good LOOGY. He had left the rotation due to anxiety and success issues. The Phillies are looking to hopefully see some flashes of the pre-trade from Miami (the Florida) to Detroit. If Willis can replicate his 2011 form, he’d be the perfect option for the LOOGY. He was completely smoked by right-handed hitters at a .305/.395/.433 pace, but held left handers to a miniscule .127/.169/.200 line over 60 plate appearances.

Joe Savery: Savery came up for a cup of coffee at the end of 2011 after splitting time between Clearwater, Reading, and Lehigh Valley. Altogether he compiled a 5-0 record over 36.o innings with a 1.50 ERA, a strikeout to walk ratio of 6.83, and a WHIP just over one (1.056). If he can prove that those numbers weren’t a fluke over the next 30 days, the former first round pick may have found himself a home.

Michael Stutes: Stutes had a break out season in 2011 with a strikeout to walk ratio of 58:28 and held batters to a .218 average over 62 innings. The dog days of summer really affected Stutes last season as July and August were the only months Stutes had an ERA over 3.50. Stutes will definitely have an option to make this team, but he’ll need to out perform some good competition.

Michael Schwimer: After absolutely dominating hitters in AAA for most of 2011, Schwimer got the call and looked rather pedestrian. His control seemed to be the most effected. Now, I don’t want to say that the umpires were giving him the rookie treatment and not giving him “questionable” calls, but Schwimer went for a strikeout to walk ratio of 3.91 to 2.29.

A couple of guys to keep your eyes on as well are Austin Hyatt, Justin De Fratus, and Phillipe Aumont. While I think all three have very good stuff, they are probably better off starting 2012 in AAA just to refine their craft. Hyatt has never pitched above AA, but has never had a season where he had a K/9 below 10. Hyatt has basically been an under the radar starter within the Phillies system and definitely shows the potential to be a possible Vance Worley part II.

Justin De Fratus could possibly start a throwing program as early as Monday after being shut down to soreness in his pitching elbow. You always hate to hear that, especially when it comes to pitchers that could potentially be something special. Hopefully he just tweaked something and won’t require any further time off.

Phillipe Aumont, in my opinion, needs to be in AAA for most, if not all of 2012. Aumont is the kind of talent that has the potential to down right dominate big league hitters. Once the Phillies got it out of their heads that this kid wasn’t a starter, and Aumont himself got over being “the man” in the Cliff Lee deal, he’s been electric. While his command still shows room for improvement, the big 6’7″ righty has been striking out hitters by the village at an amazing rate of 13.1 K/9.

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One Response to “Countdown To Opening Day 2012: 33 Days”

  1. ChrisLeo33 says:

    33 days, Yay, by the way that is my favorite number, lol. Thanks for the updates Mike!