Chad Durbin isn’t included in any postseason highlights, but he’s one of several pitchers that provided early help during the Phillies' run to the title.
They say relievers pitch better when they know their roles. If that’s the case, then Chad Durbin was an exception to the rule in 2008. Splitting time between the rotation and bullpen with Detroit in ’07, the Phils devoted Durbin to middle relief with no set blueprint and the results couldn’t have been better. With his ERA hovering below 2.00 through mid-August, the 30-year-old right-hander embraced a freelance role that balanced back-to-back games and multiple innings, anytime, anyplace. He performed so well that Charlie Manuel auditioned him for the set-up vacancy in August, and only then – assuming his first clearly defined role as a Phillie – did he stumble. With his inning count rising, he never seemed right after that, finishing with a 4.32 ERA in August and 6.94 in September after pitching excellent ball for four months.
Speaking of early summer, solid starts, and players not included on highlight films, I would be remiss not to mention the pitcher who started the year with three-straight quality starts and was tied for the team lead with 10 as late as July 2. That pitcher, of course, is Adam Eaton. Nobody benefited from more lucky breaks than Eaton; he ranked among the league leaders in GDP/9.0 IP for a good, long while, and at least of half of them were heaven sent. Still, give Eaton some credit; for a time, he was a league-average fourth or fifth, running a streak of five-straight quality starts, in addition to a seven-inning, three-run performance at Oakland, before the quick hook in July.
Staying in the rotation, everyone remembers the Phils’ 20-2 blowout against St. Louis back on June 13, but they forget that Kyle Kendrick also pitched beautifully that night. Kendrick actually had a number of excellent starts like that one, including an eight-inning mastering of the A’s two starts later, But there wasn’t a more inconsistent pitcher than Kendrick; by the end, his command had truly failed and the meltdowns happened with startling frequency. Nevertheless, Kendrick still won 11 games, three less than Cole Hamels and a game more than Brett Myers, thanks in large measure to some excellent run support (5.85 runs/game). To the original point of early summer heroes, the Phils were 18-12 in his starts, and 14-5 through his first 19.