CHICAGO — For all the bullpen malaise, and there has been plenty, the emergence of Antonio Bastardo has happened quite quietly.
Bastardo pitched the eighth inning of a one-run game Wednesday and struck out two of the three batters he faced. He's run his scoreless streak to 8 2/3 innings over nine outings. In that span, he has fanned nine and walked three. All told, Bastardo has a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings.
In short, he's been the dominant presence like he was for much of 2011.
He has also assumed the setup role to little fanfare. That was Chad Qualls' job at the start of the season. His ghastly May (29 batters faced, 15 reached base) put an end to that.
What should be encouraging about Bastardo is the results have come even with diminished velocity from a season ago. His fastball is averaging 92 m.p.h. in 2012. Last season it, was 93.2 m.p.h.
But as he tired late in 2011, the results dropped with the velocity. Charlie Manuel believes Bastardo still has more life in his arm and it will come. For now, the results will do just fine.
Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.