A week ago, Brad Lidge blew another save and it appeared the 'pen was headed into a tailspin. On the eve of a tough series with the Yanks, and with J.C. Romero's return ltwo weeks away, they're back in business.
The offensive onslaught and questions about the rotation have dominated the headlines during the Phillies' 6-1 roadtrip, but very quietly, the bullpen has worked its way back into playoff form. Yesterday, the bullpen entered play with a combined 3.95 ERA, which is fifth in the National League. They also rated third in opponents' batting average (.224) and third in strikeouts (110). This was before Clay Condrey, Scott Eyre, Chan Ho Park and Sergio Escalona combined for four scoreless frames in yesterday's 12-5 drubbing.
Several factors are at play, foremost the individual performances. Chad Durbin, Jack Taschner, Ryan Madson, J.A. Happ, Eyre and Condrey have either met, or in the case of Happ, Condrey and perhaps Taschner, exceeded expectations.
Adding an extra reliever at Miguel Cairo's expense spared the bullpen from a few extra innings. Escalona hasn't given up a run in his three appearances. Other reason: the Phillies received a pair of front-line starts by Cole Hamels and Brett Myers this week; Myers pitched a key seven-inning gem in the first game of Saturday's twin bill. They also received six serviceable frames from Jamie Moyer Wednesday. Last, and certainly not least, the offense keeps putting runs on the board, creating a bit more breathing room for struggling relievers, like Lidge, to settle in.