None of the candidates have distinguished themselves, and for a team desperate for a fast start, patience may not be a virtue. They'll get another look at their options today when they host the Yankees in Clearwater.
The Phillies are past the half-way point of spring training and find themselves in a worst-case scenario: the bullpen competition is wide open, for as many as three openings. That's bad news on several levels. Aside from set-up candidate Antonio Alfonseca, most of the relievers have been rather terrible, including Geoff Geary, Ryan Madson and Matt Smith, who’re still trying to find their rhythm.
None of the choices are without drawbacks. The Phillies may chose between a hot hand, such as rookie Joe Bisenius, older candidates, such as Clay Condrey and Justin Germano, who’re out of options, left-hander Fabio Castro, who's very young and struggles with command, or Rule 5 pick Jim Ed Warden, who must be offered back to Cleveland or be put on waivers if he doesn’t make the 25-man roster.
Going with a hot hand risks depleting pitching depth, which they can’t afford to do. Going with an experienced, albeit struggling, arm risks heading north without putting their best foot forward. Someone like Germano may be a safe choice, and it would also mean they could hold on to an arm with upside. Until his last outing, the 25-year-old right-hander - who's drawn praise from pitching coach Rich Dubee as a steady talent, was having a decent spring. The Phillies are monitoring whether the converted starter can handle a bullpen role.
The Phillies may decide to bag uncertainty altogether, like they did last season when they acquired David Dellucci at the end of camp and send three bench hopefuls packing. Candidates include standard middle relievers, like Rick Bauer or Scott Feldman from Texas, to versatile swing man Byung-Hyun Kim in Colorado.
Veteran southpaws duel today on CSN
Jamie Moyer makes his fourth outing when the Phillies face Andy Pettitte and the Yankees today at 1:05 EST. Moyer has had the best spring of any starter, tossing a five-inning gem his last outing to lower his ERA to 3.60 this spring.