Making a career-high 71 appearances in his first dedicated season as a reliever, the Phillies rewarded Chad Durbin with a one-year, $1.635 million deal yesterday. What does 2009 hold in store?
People tend to forget how vitally important Durbin was to the bullpen, particularly at the beginning of the season. As late as May 20, Beerleaguer rated him fifth in our individual player power rankings, just behind Brad Lidge. Durbin proved to be the missing piece to a certain extent in the early months, and there’s something to be said about performing well in a largely undefined and unfamiliar role.
Nevertheless, the prevailing wisdom seems to be that he depleted his mojo, that he wore down, or that the league caught on, because he didn’t have nearly the same success in the second half. He posted a 4.32 ERA/1.56 WHIP in August and it got even worse in September, a brutal 6.94/1.89, with opponents hitting a robust .340 off him.
My skepticism stems from the fact that his peripherals weren’t particularly strong, even in his best months. Add that to a rapidly climbing workload, and the concerns being expressed on Beerleaguer are justifiable. Including 2006, he’s tallied over 406 innings as a starter and reliever in the Majors and Minors, which makes Ryan Madson’s 273 innings look like chump change.