Coming into the season, the Phillies' bullpen was the problem child of the team. When the season started, they proved themselves to be a spoiled brat of a child, but they've suddenly become little darlings.
It seemed like there wasn't anybody on the staff that could get hitters out early in the season. The closest thing that they had to a reliable reliever was Antonio Alfonseca. Even on opening day, the bullpen blew an impressive start by Brett Myers, who ironically was left in the game longer than he would have normally been in, because Charlie Manuel had no confidence in his bullpen. Time after time, the relievers were brought into games only to throw gasoline on an already blazing inferno.
Suddenly though, the bullpen has undergone a transformation. It started with ace Myers being sent to the 'pen to serve as a set-up man for maligned closer Tom Gordon. It appeared for all the world that Gordon was a man on a short leash, who would be yanked back from the closer's spot at any moment even though the Phillies insisted Gordon was their closer.
Consider some of these numbers:
Antonio Alfonseca: 1-0, 0.77 on the season. Has a current streak of 8.1 innings without allowing a run and has allowed a run in just one of his ten games and a hit in five of his ten outings.
Geoff Geary: 0-1, 2.45 on the season. Current streak of 4.1 shutout innings. If you remove one game - an outing against the Mets on April 9 - Geary's season ERA is 0.87. Geary has also allowed just one of 18 inherited runners to score in his 12 games.
Ryan Madson: 0-2, 3.68 on the season. Current streak of 7.2 shutout innings, before that, Madson allowed earned runs in four of his first five games and had an ERA of 7.71 in those games.
Tom Gordon: 0-1, 4.91 on the season. Okay, Gordon is struggling and has already blown two saves in just six opportunities. Those numbers could seem to provide evidence of Gordon's final days as a closer being upon us.
Francisco Rosario: 0-1, 3.38 on the season. After a rough start, Rosario is turning things around and has thrown scoreless innings in each of his last three outings. He also hasn't walked a batter in 5.1 innings of work.
Things truly are turning around for the Phillies' bullpen. With Gordon weak at the closer's spot, Myers could be getting that promotion at almost any time. At the very least, he'll be hanging around and looking over Gordon's physically questionable shoulder. Myers has allowed just one earned run in four innings of work out of the bullpen and seems to be taking to the job. At least he's taking to it much better than his predecessor Jon Lieber did when he posted an 11.57 ERA out of the bullpen. Meanwhile, Lieber has also turned things around and has gone 1-0 with a 1.54 ERA in two starts replacing Myers.
The latest move brings Fabio Castro back to Philadelphia to replace struggling left-hander Matt Smith. Castro went 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in six relief appearances for the Ottawa Lynx.
There's no knowing how the bullpen will have performed over a full season, but for now, they're turning things around. And now, they've sent left-hander Matt Smith down to Ottawa and recalled Fabio Castro hoping to fill the weakest link in the pen.
Matt Smith was the weak link and he's off to Ottawa.