LOS ANGELES — There is much for Charlie Manuel and the Phillies to be thankful for after 115 games. Seventy-five wins will do that. Just about everything has gone according to plan. Injuries have been limited. The pitchers have been fantastic. The defense has been above average.
But one thing sticks out to Manuel. Unprompted, he named Antonio Bastardo as his surprise of the season to date.
The numbers don't lie; Bastardo has been amazing. His .124 batting average against is the lowest of all relievers in the majors by 20 points. His 1.47 ERA is eighth among relievers. Opponents have swung and missed at 15.4 percent of Bastardo's pitches and that ranks ninth among major-league relievers.
But most importantly, the 25-year-old lefthander has shown an ability to stay on the field with an intense focus.
"So far, knock on wood, he's been really good," Manuel said. "He's been really, really consistent. Even when he falls behind in the count, he'll come right at you. All you have to do is look at his numbers and they tell the story. He's been that good. He's been my surprise, really. The biggest surprise has been him, without a doubt."
Agree with Charlie? What's your biggest surprise of the season so far?
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