Just some random numbers while perusing my stats this morning. . .
1) The Phillies are just 5-for-38 with runners in scoring position in their current four-game losing streak.
2) Josh Beckett, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann have held the Phillies to two runs on 24 baserunners with 16 and seven walks over 19 1/3 innings over the last three games.
3) And now for the good news: The bullpen has not allowed a run in its last 12 2/3 innings, dating back to the first game of the Boston series. Particularly impressive have been the two newest faces: rookie Jake Diekman has struck out seven of nine batters in two appearances during the stretch, while Raul Valdes has struck out four of 12 in 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Jose Contreras has retired the last nine batters he has faced, while Antonio Bastardo has not allowed a run in the month of May, pitching 9 1/3 scoreless innings while allowing just four baserunners and striking out 10. All of that is a very good sign. As frustrating as this team can seem, a stable bullpen along with the strength in the rotation would give the Phillies the ability to put together a long run of W's if the offense were ever to heat up. Keep in mind they were seven games out in late July in 2010 and ended up winning the division going away. What they can't afford to do is give away games that they are winning, which is why the bullpen is so important. In Bastardo, Contreras and Diekman, the Phillies have three relievers with legitimate back-of-the-bullpen stuff. If Valdes can somehow turn into their most reliable lefty specialist since Scott Eyre, suddenly the bullpen transforms from a glaring weakness to a clear strength. Of course, that only happens if Bastardo and Contreras are consistent and Diekman turns into the pitcher he has shown flashes of being since his call-up.