From blowing back-to-back games in Texas last week to the inability to keep games close in the middle innings this week in Philly, the Phillies bullpen has been a trouble spot in 2014.
The relief corps is 0-3 with a 4.94 ERA.
Only six major league bullpens have allowed more runs (16). Only two teams, the White Sox and A’s, have more blown saves (2). Only the A’s, White Sox and Reds have a poorer strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.54).
But help could be on the way, some of it sooner and some of it down the road.
Mike Adams will throw his next minor league rehab at Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Saturday. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said it’s possible Adams could be back in the Phillies bullpen on Monday.
Adams, the former set-up man who had shoulder surgery on July 31, would be a welcome addition to the back end of the ‘pen. Manager Ryne Sandberg has leaned heavily on left-handers Jake Diekman and Antonio Bastardo and hasn’t had an effective right-handed option for late-inning situations.
Since Adams is coming off shoulder surgery, however, it’s uncertain just how much he’ll be able to provide. Adams threw back-to-back games for the first time this week; he allowed a run on two hits and a walk, while also striking out two, in the second half of those back-to-backs on Wednesday in Clearwater.
The Phillies could add two power arms to the pen later this summer.
Ethan Martin, who entered camp as a possible fifth starter candidate, was told he will work exclusively as a reliever. Martin dealt with shoulder pain in early March and will throw the first bullpen session of his rehab on Friday.
“I think it’s the best thing for him and his future,” Amaro said of Martin. “He’s probably has the chance to be a much more dominant bullpen guy then he would as a starter. So we’ll see how it goes. I think he’s happy about it and ready to go.”
Another name to keep an eye on: Kenny Giles.
Giles, 23, entered major league camp this spring without ever having pitched beyond Class A. But he’s impressed in his first week at Double-A Reading: Giles has struck out 9 of the 12 batters he’s faced in three scoreless appearances.
Armed with a fastball that reaches 100 MPH, Giles drew rave reviews this spring. After Giles sent down to minor league camp as one of the last cuts, Sandberg said the reliever wasn’t far away from being ready for his major league ‘pen.
"No, not with his velocity, not with his breaking pitch," Sandberg said in March. "I don't think he's far away at all.”
Said Amaro on Thursday: “One of the good things we’re seeing is he’s starting to develop some command, more constant command, down in the zone with his fastball. It’s not just that he’s throwing 100 miles an hour, but where he’s throwing it. He’s been putting up some pretty good sliders, too. It’s a progression for him, but hopefully he starts to make things a lot more comfortable for us about giving him an opportunity for us. We’ll see.”
Other rehab tidbits:
Freddy Galvis could be activated as soon as Friday. Galvis (knee infection) has played in two games at Class A Clearwater and began playing in extended spring training games last weekend. His arrival could mean Cesar Hernandez being sent to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he'd get regular at-bats to keep his bat fresh.
Darin Ruf (oblique) is expected to begin baseball activities early next week.
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez (shoulder) is throwing, but a bullpen session isn't imminent. "He’s throwing," Amaro said. "He’s out to 90 or 100 feet right now. Again, still working on some of his mechanics and it’s getting better and better. But he’s feeling good. We’ll go through a normal progression right now, we’ll get him out to 120 feet, and once he’s comfortable there, we’ll get him on the mound and get him going."