Chad Durbin’s career has been that of many Major League relief pitchers. You bounce around, you get knocked down, you get back up, you have great years, you have bad years, and you have years in between.
Durbin was a part of the Philadelphia Phillies’ World Series run in 2008, and played a crucial role on that team along with Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero, and others in the pen who had one goal: get the ball to Brad Lidge.
For Durbin, 2013 will be a little different story: he’ll want to get the ball to Jonathan Papelbon at the end of a game. One thing is not different: Durbin will still be providing middle relief for the Phillies; nothing more and nothing less, barring some sort of injury or poor performance.
It’s a role he has been comfortable in before, but as is well known, unless your last name is Rivera or Papelbon (or maybe a small handful of others), your life in a bullpen can be challenging.
After the 2011 season, Durbin was just lucky to stay in baseball. He posted a 5.53 ERA with the Cleveland Indians in 68.1 innings. In 2012, Durbin latched on with the Atlanta Braves after being released by the Washington Nationals after spring training.
Durbin had a solid year in Atlanta, posting a 3.10 ERA and 1.31 WHIP, identical to the WHIP he had with the Phillies in his last year with the team in 2010.
It was a bit of a surprise to see the Phillies sign Durbin, considering it appeared that the team was ready to throw some of their younger arms into bullpen action. However, Durbin is a veteran, and teams value veteran pitchers in the bullpen. Durbin isn’t a particularly amazing pitcher; he’s one of those guys that can do a little bit of everything. He isn’t really a strikeout pitcher, and he doesn’t have a really sparkling walk rate in his career either.
A somewhat concerning number from Durbin’s 2012 is that his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) was 4.78, a far cry from his 3.10 ERA. His BABIP of .251 would lead you to believe he used some smoke and mirrors in getting to that 3.10 ERA as well.
Durbin is likely a guy the Phillies would go to in the 6th or 7th inning in 2013, not much different from his role with the team the first time he was with them. Hopefully there’s another world title in it for Durbin.