Antonio Bastardo's Keeping Things Interesting - NBC 10 Philadelphia
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Antonio Bastardo's Keeping Things Interesting

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Admit it, you want something to worry about over the last two weeks of the season.

    It just isn't the nature of baseball fans to sit back and enjoy the ride until the games really start to matter next month. There will be those that chose to obsess about the fact that the Phillies have scored just six runs in the last three games -- all wins -- even though the team's been one of the better offenses in the league of late.

    That feels like reaching. Offenses go through cycles and the team has been playing without a full-strength Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley. If this issue continues for another week now that they are back in the swing of things it will be worth talking about. For now, though, the offense is a minor annoyance. If you want to get yourself riled up, take a look at Antonio Bastardo.

    The reliever got yanked after allowing two of three batters to reach base in the eighth inning of Thursday's first game with the Marlins. Brad Lidge bailed him out before any runs could score which means that Bastardo has only allowed runs in two of his last four appearances.

    He's walked five batters in that span, a run that covers just 1.1 innings, and has walked eight men in his last six innings of work overall. He's given up four earned runs this month, which is remarkable when you see that he allowed eight runs in the entire season up until September.

    It is a very small sample size, to be sure, but so were some of his most successful periods of the season. Relief pitching is the kind of business where you're only as good as your last time on the mound and Bastardo hasn't been very good of late. Since it is September, the first thought that comes to mind is that Bastardo is fatigued.

    Seems possible, although Bastardo hasn't seen a serious jump in innings this season compared to past years. More of them have been in the big leagues so they are more stressful innings, perhaps, but the raw numbers aren't all that different. What's more, the Phillies have been giving him a lot of rest of late and that seems to have affected his command more than it has helped with his energy level.

    As the only lefthander in the bullpen, Bastardo is going to play a big role in the playoff run. If he isn't effective, the Phillies will have to rely heavily on Michael Stutes, another young pitcher untested in the playoff crucible. If they had a lesser rotation, this concern would loom larger but it is still something to watch between now and the start of the playoffs.

    Hey, it wouldn't be much fun if everything just fell right into place, would it?