Bullpen plays major role in recent walk-off wins

Phillies pitcher Jonathan Papelbon. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)

One of the factors in the Phillies recent run of walk-off wins has been the much maligned bullpen.

In the three straight walk-off victories, the relievers have allowed one run in eight innings. The bullpen has pitched seven consecutive scoreless innings following Friday’s 4-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citizens Bank Park.

Against Arizona, B.J. Rosenberg and Jonathan Papelbon each pitched a scoreless inning.

During Thursday’s 5-4win over Colorado, the Phillies bullpen pitched four scoreless innings, two by Zach Miner and one each by Rosenberg and Cesar Jimenez.

The streak started in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Colorado when Jake Diekman earned the victory by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

“The bullpen makes all the difference in the world,” said interim manager Ryne Sandberg. “They are putting up zeroes in the seventh through ninth innings of tight games.”

One person who has benefited greatly from the confidence Sandberg has shown in him is Rosenberg.

He has pitched four times since Sandberg has taken over has allowed just one hit and no runs. The Phillies have won three of the games. In each of those wins, Rosenberg pitched in the eighth inning.

The fact that Sandberg is using Rosenberg in the critical eighth inning, has given the righthander a major boost.

“It shows he has confidence in us, giving the opportunity to go out there,” Rosenberg said.

The Phillies entered the weekend 26th in the Major Leagues in bullpen ERA (4.20). That’s actually an improvement from when they were 30th.

Still, the Phillies have to prove over the long haul that they can field a dependable bullpen. Nobody knows how many in the current pen will be an integral part next season but many, including Rosenberg, are getting the chance to state their case.