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The Phillies' bullpen, Kyle Kendrick, Chase Utley at third base?

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Can the Phillies’ bullpen hold up?

-The Philadelphia Phillies have lost 13 games in 2012 when leading after the eighth inning. The team’s late season push for the second NL Wild Card will have them counting on their bullpen more and more to put out the fire if their starters can’t give them dependable innings.

A prime example was Thursday night against the Astros, who would be perennial postseason contenders if they played the Phillies more than a few times during the season. Phillies starter Tyler Cloyd was horrendous, failing to make it out of the fourth inning.  Meanwhile, an exhausted Phillippe Aumont (who had pitched in six of the last seven games) and Jake Diekman couldn’t hold a 4-3 lead and the Astros came away with a shocking 6-4 win.

The most concerning part of all of this is that the team’s relief corps has a good chance of being absolutely gassed if the Phillies are lucky enough to sneak into the playoffs. Ruben Amaro has some decisions to make this offseason. Does he entrust his bullpen to Jonathan Papelbon and several inexperienced youngsters, or will this be his main priority going into 2013?

We shall see.

Kendrick pitching meaningful September games again

-The last time Kyle Kendrick was starting games for the Phillies with possible playoff implications was in 2007. Because of his up and down performances on the diamond since that time, some Phillies fans (a lot of them who weren’t even watching the team at the time) probably fail to remember the fact that, if Kendrick didn’t go 10-4 for the team down the stretch that season, the Phillies never would have clinched the NL East. So it seems fitting that five years later, Kendrick is back in the rotation as the Phillies fight for a postseason berth.  

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken my fair share of shots at Kendrick over the years, but I never fail to remember that he wasPhoto: ESPN a big part in helping propel the Phillies to one of the greatest eras (if not THE greatest) in the history of the ballclub.

Can Chase Utley play third base?

-As Chase Utley continues to take ground balls at third base, I’m beginning to think the Phillies actually are taking Utley’s suggestion seriously that he thinks he could help the club at the hot corner in 2013.  Utley last played third base in Triple A ten years ago and made 28 errors.

For someone like Utley, who has accuracy issues throwing the ball from second to first, this could have “Dave Hollins” written all over it.  Moreover, Utley doesn’t have the strongest throwing arm to start with, and the fact that he’s missed the last two spring trainings could once again put this team in a bind.

The only chance Utley will get any time at third during game action would be if the Phillies are eliminated from playoff contention. That’s not enough of a time frame to make to see what he can do at the position. If Utley somehow winds up playing third base next year, Freddy Galvis (who needed PEDs to hit .226) would take over at second.

With all of these mitigating factors, it would probably be advantageous for the Phillies to pursue some free agent options at third base going into 2013.  

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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