The Phillies better make some trades to bolster the bullpen in front of closer Tom Gordon or that could have problems in 2007. 39 year old righty Tom Gordon had a solid first season in Philly. He was 3-4 with 34 saves, a 3.34 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP in 59 games in 2006. Batters only hit .233 against him (an amazing .185 against lefties) and he whiffed 68 batters in only 59.1 innings so that shows he still has great stuff. Still, he allowed a startling 9 homers and that’s way too many for a closer. Look for him to save 30+ games this season as long as he stays healthy.
Soon to be 35 year old righty Antonio Alfonseca looks to be the top set-up man for the Phillies in 2007 and that’s a scary thought. He was 0-0 with 8 holds, a 5.63 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP in 19 games last season for the Texas Rangers. Batters hit .348 against him (lefties .452) and he walked 7 batters in 16 innings and that’s the reason the Rangers cut him loose last June. Not sure how much he has left in the tank.
26 year old righty Ryan Madson looks like he’ll be one of the top set-up men for the Phillies in 2007 and they need him to rebound from a terrible 2006 season. He was 11-9 with 6 holds, 2 saves, a 5.69 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP in 50 games (17 starts) for the Phillies in 2006. Batters hit an incredible .321 against him last season with 50 walks and 20 homers in 134.1 innings last season. The Phillies have their fingers crossed that Madson can revert back to his 2005 form when he had 32 holds for them. Don’t hold your breath.
30 year old righty Geoff Geary had a good season for the Phillies last season. He was 7-1 with 15 holds, 1 save, a 2.96 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP in 81 games for the Phillies in 2006. Batters hit .287 (lefties .348) against Geary last season but he limited the damage by only walking 20 batters in 91.1 innings. Don’t look for Geary to have an ERA under 3.00 this season unless he can start missing more bats. He should be decent in 2007 though.
28 year old lefty Matt Smith will be a bigger part of the bullpen for the Phillies this season if he proves that last year wasn’t a mirage. He was 0-1 with 6 holds, a 0.87 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in 26 games for the New York Yankees and Phillies in 2006. Batters only hit .108 against him last season but he walked 12 batters in only 20.2 innings. Look for Smith to be a decent pitcher for the Phillies but he won’t be as good as he was last season.
22 year old lefty Fabio Castro will also see his role probably expand this season. He was 0-1 with 1 save, a 2.27 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP in 20 games for the Texas Rangers and Phillies in 2006. Batters only hit .170 against him (lefties .074) but he’ll need to cut down on his walks (13 in 31.2 innings) to keep pitching well in the majors.