|20||Justin De Fratus||24||3.38||13||10.2||0||5||8||123||1.125||0.0||4.2||6.8|
The search for an everyday center fielder has drawn most of the attention as Ruben Amaro Jr. meets with fellow GMs at the Winter Meetings, but securing a set-up man - after Wilton Lopez proved too good to be true - should remain a top priority.
Beerleaguer: It's such a shame about Lopez, who would have been the perfect fit. The Phils had a deal in place for the 29-year-old Astros closer, but it fell apart after Lopez reportedly flunked his physical.
While center field proved to be a slow drain on on both the offense and defense, the eighth inning was arguably the most detrimental in terms of flipping wins into losses. When the Phils plummeted from contention during the dog days, unreliable and inexperienced relief was central. The good news - based on the Phillies' aggressive pursuit of Lopez - is that Amaro shared our same disgust.
Take a moment to review the attached conglomerate of rookies and misfits, ordered by innings pitched, and one can envision how a strike-throwing sinkerballer like Lopez could have leveled off these ugly numbers. The Phils have always cherished late-inning strikeouts and got their wish to the tune of a league-best 10.05 K/9 relief ratio, but it came at the cost of a ton of walks and gopher balls (Josh Lindblom, kind of a poster boy). The Phils benefitted from mixing and matching undercooked options like Jake Diekman, particularly when rosters expanded, but think about how many times a one-or-two-batter assignment ended in a strikeout, walk or homer.
In Lopez, a deal described as a "coup" if they could have pulled it off, the Phils had identified what they enjoyed for years in Ryan Madson: someone who could pitch to righties and lefties, keep the eighth to a one-man operation and successfully bridge the gap to the ninth. Not surprisingly, the Phils were looking into Madson before he signed with the Halos.
With Lopez off the board, the Phils must find another way push potentially destructive options, like Lindblom, into reduced roles and dilute all those losses attributable to the bullpen.
(What was the final tally anyway?)