The season may be two weeks old, but the Phillies appear to be an arm short at the back of the bullpen.
We're seeing exactly why the Jason Michaels for Arthur Rhodes trade was a smart decision by
Pat Gillick. But it wasn't enough. The Phillies still need reinforcements, and the answers could take on unpopular forms.
Impressed with Ryan Madson the starter? Enjoy it while it lasts. If Randy Wolf comes back healthy around mid-season, Madson could become Mr. 7th inning again.
The odds are stacked against Rheal Cormier, Geoff Geary, Julio Santana and Aaron Fultz handling the job the way Madson can. The jury is still out on Ryan Franklin, still adjusting to the role, but his durability and pitch selection may be better suited for long relief.
Down in the minors, Yoel Hernandez is probably the closest to the majors and has pitched well as Scranton's closer. Chris Booker will be looked at closely during his rehab assignment. Also, the Cole Hamels situation is worth monitoring. It's not unrealistic to believe the 22-year-old left-hander will be in Phillies pinstripes before rosters expand in September.
However, what the Phillies need is a proven reliever, someone to step in seamlessly and know the position. They're leaning on 36-year-old Arthur Rhodes hard in order to bridge the gap to their 38-year-old closer, Tom Gordon. He's also the one Charlie Manuel seems to call on first when games get dicey, like it did Friday night. This was the job some believed Aaron Fultz could have filled. So far, Fultz has shown why his career has been spent pitching the sixth inning down five runs.
Teams won't trade pitching this early, so look for Gillick to pounce on the first available arm. If he plays his cards right, he could get lucky and wind up with this year's Tim Worrell, someone that falls on hard luck with his old club.
After the all-star break, Worrell posted a 2.55 ERA for the Diamondbacks in '05. With the Giants this season, the 38-year-old right-hander has a 1.42 ERA and is tied for the league lead in saves (5).