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Phillies need to finalize bullpen and bench spots for NLDS vs. Cardinals

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"KEEP ON PHIGHTIN' WITH JOE VALLEE"

Starting Saturday, the Phightin Phils will take that next step towards another possible parade down Broad Street when they take on the St. Louis Cardinals  in Game One of the 2011 NLDS.
 
In part two of our three part series, we give the lowdown on the Phils’ bullpen and bench going into Saturday. Who do you trust in the seventh inning? Who seems like a liability? Feel free to review and discuss!

Bullpen

Vance Worley- We all know about Worley’s rookie season. There’s no way the Phils finish with 100-plus wins if he isn’t in that rotation.vance worley This however, is a completely different role for Worley. For example, Worley’s tendency to put runners on base before one of his classic ‘called third strikes’ almost cost the Phillies a run Wednesday night if not for Hunter Pence, and this can be a big issue in the playoffs.

Brad Lidge-  For a guy who nobody thought might pitch again this season, Lidge has become one of the more reliable Phillies relievers. In saying that, the scary part about Lidge is that he is a one trick pony at this stage in his career: slider or bust. If it’s not biting and/or he faces a patient hitting team, the results could get ugly. Moreover, if Lidge manages to get anybody on base these days, consider it a double, or possibly worse.

Joe Blanton- Talk about a guy nobody thought they’d see again this year, Blanton will be used for one to two innings tops in the playoffs if he makes the final cut for the post-season roster. Prior to Wednesday’s regular season finale, Blanton had allowed just one run in five innings since his return. He didn’t look all that bad Wednesday night, allowing a run in two innings with four strikeouts. Blanton has obviously pitched in big games before with this club, with his best results coming in 2008. He didn’t even get out of the fifth inning last year against the Giants in the NLCS, and his outings in 2009 were average at best. Because of his previous playoff experience, Blanton might get the nod over.............

David Herndon-  No disrespect to Herndon, but there are several pitches that are much more qualified to take a spot on this roster, and I don’t care about his 1.99 ERA since May or his save that clinched the Phils their 102 win of the season. Herndon is also capable of walking his fair share of batters. And in the playoffs, that can cost you a series. Let’s put it this way: Look at the Phillies’ extra inning games this season. What’s your first reaction when you see Herndon in a game? Yep. Exactly. The only reason I wasn't nervous Wednesday was because it didn't matter.

Kyle Kendrick-  I’m usually the first one to take shots at Kendrick, but during this Phillies run, he has done everything this team has asked him to do at all times. Truth be told, I don’t like really any of these guys in the seventh inning, but better Kendrick than Herndon. The only problem with Kendrick is that he is still shaky against left-handed hitters after all these years. Which brings me to.....antonio bastardo

Antonio Bastardo-  Forget the fact that the Phillies won their franchise record-tying 101st game Tuesday night. The best part of this game was watching Bastardo look like the dominant pitcher he had been all year until the beginning of August. It’s not that simple that he’s out of the woods just yet, but his outing was nonetheless encouraging.

Unfortunately, Joe Savery did not have enough time to prove his value for a playoff roster spot, because the Phillies’ lack of another lefty in the pen might come back and haunt them in October. How the Phils will use Bastardo during the playoffs is anyone’s guess, but he will be there, and I’ll have my fingers crossed.

Michael Stutes- Simply put, Stutes is not the same pitcher he was for the first half of the season. Although he is still reaching 94 MPH on the radar gun and threw well against the Braves, Stutes’ ERA in September is 3.27. He’s still a better option than Herndon and he can go two innings, which is huge if one of the Phillies’ starters happens to get knocked out of a game early. The Phillies will most likely use Stutes as a seventh and/or eighth inning option, so returning to some semblence of his early season form will really help this team.

Ryan Madson-  Without question, Madson is the most reliable Phillies reliever. And considering he is the closer, this is not a bad thing. Only problem here is whether the Phillies can get the ball to him after their starters are removed. For someone who was doubted as much as Madson was regarding his dependability in the closers role, he has turned it around nicely. No reliever in Phillies history has pitched as many games for the Phightins as Madson has, and keep in mind that these might be the last games Madson ever pitches for the club. With his contract expiring after 2011, a strong post-season will only increase Madson’s market value.

Bench

Brian Schneider- Barring an injury to Ruiz, Schneider will not catch an inning of the post season. Moreover, Schneider’s .176 average this season suggests that he probably won’t even be called upon to pinch hit. He is pretty much on the roster as a backup.

Ross Gload- ‘One hip’ Gload is a gamer. It’s no secret that he is playing in what is most likely unbelievable pain. Right now, Gload is pretty much reduced to a being a modern day Greg Gross: a singles hitter with no power. He can be counted on as a pinch hitter come playoff time, but he’s extremely limited with his injury.

Wilson Valdez- Valdez has seen very little time since his hamstring injury coupled with the return of Jimmy Rollins. Defensively, he might be as reliable as anyone currently wearing a glove in the majors. While hitting with two outs, Valdez is actually a pretty good clutch hitter. With less than two outs and guys on base, he is the human 6-4-3 double play. With all due respect to Valdez, there is a big issue if he spends any significant time on the field in any game starting Saturday. Valdez will most likely be used as a possible defensive replacement or in a bunting situation. And no, he will not be pitching, either.Expect John Mayberry Jr. to be a major contributor in the 2011 post-season. Photo: www.nypost.com

John Mayberry Jr.-  Most likely your best bet for power and/or speed off the bench, Mayberry has really come into his own this year. If you placed a bet in February that he would have better numbers than Chase Utley in 2011, you would have won a lot of money in Vegas. With Raul Ibanez most likely departing after 2011 and Domonic Brown more of a question mark than ever, one would have to believe the left field position in 2012 is Mayberry’s to lose.

Ben Francisco- I’m not expecting much if anything from Francisco in the playoffs. For his career, Francisco is 1 for 17 in post-season play. If anything, he will be a last option if Mayberry and Gload are already used, but let’s hope a game doesn’t get that far. Not because Francisco is terrible, but because you have bigger problems if you keep having to go that deep into your bench.

Michael Martinez- Like Valdez, Martinez most likely won’t see much if any time on the field if all goes well and he is on the roster. He can’t bunt well and is prone to making errors on what should be easy plays. The last thing any team wants to do is give a team four outs in the post season. It will most likely burn you every time.

Pete Orr- While Martinez technically might be more versatile than Orr, the Phillies might consider adding him to the roster for one reason and one reason alone: speed. As we discussed the other week, Orr’s got wheels, and the Phillies have enough outfield depth to where Martinez most likely would not be needed.

So (drum roll please)....here are my NLDS roster picks for the bullpen and bench.

Bullpen:

Worley
Lidge
Blanton
Kendrick
Bastardo
Stutes
Madson

Bench:

Schneider
Gload
Valdez
Mayberry
Francisco
Orr

Let me know your thoughts, and be sure to tune in Friday, when we evaluate the Phillies’ starters!

In the meantime, Keep On Phightin'

We want to hear from YOU during the playoffs. Send your videos of the playoffs to videos@philly2philly.com  and ALL your playoffs pics to info@philly2philly.com!! It doesn’t matter where they’re from, we just want them!!

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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