The Philadelphia Phillies‘ pitching staff already ranks twenty-fifth in the major leagues with a 4.26 ERA. The underperformance and now loss of eighth inning-man Mike Adams to another injury upsets whatever remaining bullpen dreams the organization was clinging to.
General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. had a good off-season plan. He signed a veteran right-handed reliever to a two-year free agent deal with the intention of securing the bridge between the middle innings and Jonathan Papelbon. While Adams did have an unusual injury last year that affected the circulation in his arm, his acquisition was well worth the risk.
Ryan Madson served as a superb setup man for many seasons before eventually taking over for Brad Lidge as the Phillies’ closer. ‘Mad Dog’ was allowed to fly the red pinstriped coop after the 2011 season because Papelbon was signed to a big-money deal.
The 2011 performances of Antonio Bastardo and Mike Stutes, along with perceived farm system pitching depth, apparently convinced the Phillies’ brain trust that the 2012 path to ‘Cinco Ocho’ was promising. It wasn’t, which is why Adams was signed in December.
Currently pinned to the disabled list with biceps tendinitis, the soon-to-be 35-year-old (July 29) reliever is scheduled to fly to Los Angeles to receive a second opinion regarding his overall health. Whispers in the early summer wind are questioning whether Roy Halladay-type shoulder surgery might be in order.
Unless one of the young guys immediately steps way up, this bullpen won’t recover from the loss of Adams this season. If Papelbon is traded, the entire relief corps will also become a bullpen-by-committee.
With a season that’s looking more lost by the game, this scenario doesn’t stop any 2013 playoff dreams. But, Adams’ loss removes him as a potential trade chip and could weaken next season’s bullpen plan.