If there was one major theme that could describe the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies, that theme would be inconsistency.
Though the players, at most times, were inconsistent at the plate or on the mound, the real inconsistency was the production of the bullpen. The Phillies used more relievers than they should have last season, mainly in part due to the struggles of free-agent acquisitions such as Chad Qualls and injuries to players such as Jose Contreras and Michael Stutes.
Jake Diekman was one of the many relievers that the Phillies called up during the length of 2012. He was affective, when used in correct situations, but he started to fade towards the end of the year. Despite the ‘rookie’ struggle, the twenty-five-year old left-hander pitched well in his 32 appearances in red pinstripes.
Diekman, who was selected by the Phillies in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft, pitched 27.1 innings of relief and recorded a 3.95 ERA while finishing with a 1-1 record. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was great to begin the year but he finished 2012 with 33 punch outs while walking 20 batters. Though these numbers are not terrible, Diekman could sure use more work to gain more confidence.
With an invitation to Spring Training and a spot on the 40-man roster already reserved for him, Diekman will get a chance to develop his fastball before the real competition starts over again.
What would really enhance Diekman’s role, as well as his production, would be more reps with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Diekman was dominant in his 25 appearances in Triple-A, where he pitched 26.2 innings, finished 14 games, and had an ERA of 1.69. That production lead to his call up in May.
If Diekman wants to return to the MLB as a member of the Phillies, it is almost imperative that he continues to get more reps in the minor leagues. More reps equals more chances to succeed. The more success he has will result in more confidence for the twenty-six-year old south paw.