Which Philadelphia Phillies player is most vital to the team’s success in 2013? I think that the best way to get to the bottom of this is to figure out what the biggest problems were last season.
Here’s what came to mind:
Roy Halladay’s struggles
Everyone in the bullpen not named Jonathon Papelbon
All of these problems are pressing, but I believe the bullpen is the biggest issue. The bullpen alone was responsible for 12 losses when they had a lead, and that’s just in the 8th inning. When you factor in the other innings all that number does is go up.
In a division with the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, and names like Johnny Venters, Craig Kimbrel, Rafael Soriano, Jordan Walden, and Drew Storen in their bullpens, you can count on the Braves and Nats to hold on to leads when they get them late in games.
The Phillies bullpen is not going to be perfect, but the acquisition of Mike Adams should directly translate to seven or eight more wins in the 8th inning alone. Antonio Bastardo has another year under his belt, and everyone saw how good he looked in 2011, so talent is not the issue. The whole bullpen was ineffective last year, not just him, so I’d be willing to give him another chance in an important role.
The most you can reasonably ask from a starting pitcher is six good innings. Anything after that from your starter is gravy. So teams must be built to hold on to those leads in the 7th 8th and 9th. Last year the Phillies were only built for the 9th. This year will be different.