Starters to Blame for Bullpen Struggles?

The Phillies bullpen imploded for the first time Thursday afternoon, raising questions about the team’s relief pitchers until Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero are healthy.

Lidge said he was 100-percent healthy on Thursday but still not ready to rejoin the team yet, according to Lidge and Romero were in town on Thursday to pick up their N.L. Championship rings.

The bullpen had pitched brilliantly before Thursday’s disaster where they let up six runs in just 3 2/3 innings as Danys Baez took the loss. Baez has struggled in his first year with the Phils giving up four runs in as many innings.

The bullpen led the National League in ERA at 1.30 before Thursday’s disaster. It also ranked second in batting average (.198), fewest hits allowed (19) and fewest walks allowed (9).

It also had not allowed a home run until Baez gave up two.

The Phillies starters may be to blame for some of the bullpen struggles. No starter besides Roy Halladay has pitched longer than six innings, forcing the bullpen to work overtime.

Kyle Kendrick has been terrible in his two starts, forcing the bullpen into early work. That problem will hopefully be solved when Joe Blanton returns from an oblique injury.

Cole Hamels might be 2-0 but he has a 5.06 ERA and has not gone deep into games. J.A. Happ has not given up an earned run in two starts but has not been able to top six innings of work. Moyer reached the six-inning mark but gave up five runs in the process.

The bullpen cannot continue to be put into situations where they are forced to pitch more than three innings every night.

Some have handled the extra work well and others not so much. Jose Contreras, David Herndon and Chad Durbin all have still not given up an earned run in more than 13 innings of work combined.

Baez and Ryan Madson have been on the other side of the spectrum. Baez has a 7.71 ERA and Madson after his struggles Thursday has a 6.23 ERA in four appearances.

The bullpen should hopefully get some much needed rest Friday night with Halladay on the mound who has pitched 16 innings in two starts including a complete game shutout.

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