The Philadelphia Phillies have won five games in a row, but they were dealt a major blow when
Jose Contreras(notes) was injured. A right flexor injury means that Contreras will be placed on the disabled list. It is not clear
how long he will be out. With Brad Lidge(notes) injured at least until June, the already-weak bullpen could be in trouble. As a Phillies fan, I think the team might need to do something to address the
Contreras had been solid since taking over as the closer for Lidge. Now, that role will go to Ryan Madson(notes). Madson should be fine, but the bullpen is very thin now. Cole Hamels(notes) and
Roy Halladay(notes) both threw over 125 pitches in their starts in San Diego. The Phillies can’t afford to burn their starters out this early in the season. The offensive issues have
already put enough pressure on the starting pitchers. Now, a thin bullpen is going to increase that pressure.
The Phillies should start looking at trade options for relief pitchers. They
don’t need to get an elite name, but there are plenty of available pitchers they
could get. They need someone who can help set things up, and that will still be
true when Contreras returns. It is unclear if and when Lidge will return. Even
when he does, the Phillies have to wonder how effective he will be.
I’m sure Ruben Amaro Jr. knows that the bullpen could become a serious issue.
It was already a liability, and the injuries are starting to expose that earlier
than expected. Whatever happens, the Phillies can’t allow their starters to
throw over 100 pitches this early in the year. With all of the excitement around
the Phillies in 2011, it would be a shame if the bullpen woes cause this team
By addressing this issue now, the Phillies can let the starters pitch less.
That will be a huge benefit for them later in the year.