Before last night's game, Phillies relievers had thrown 28 fewer innings than any other National League bullpen and 94 fewer than Atlanta's taxed unit had. And the two most important relievers, Antonio Bastardo and Ryan Madson, entered September each around 50 innings.
"Sometimes when I stop and think about it," manager Charlie Manuel said, "how good our bullpen has been, how good Bastardo and [Mike] Stutes have been and Madson coming into his own - they've never been put through a strenuous workload for a long period of time. Our starting pitching really comes into play there. That's something they give us."
Beyond those three, there is not much reliability. Even then, Stutes has fallen off considerably - he has a 4.43 ERA since the all-star break - leaving only Bastardo and Madson.
Of course, in the playoffs, that could be plenty.
Brad Lidge has barely pitched in the six weeks he's been active. David Herndon has shown great promise in the second half, but the staff's trust with him has yet to manifest.
Manuel tested Bastardo. The lefty pitched to four batters Thursday and then was asked to pitch again Friday. He succeeded, and that's the sort of workload he'll see in October.
"He did good," Manuel said.
The only member of the bullpen under contract for 2012 may not be ready for opening day.
Jose Contreras underwent elbow surgery Friday in Los Angeles. Orthopedist Lewis Yocum cleaned out bone chips in the right elbow and also repaired the 39-year-old's flexor tendon. The Phillies will have a better idea on a timetable for Contreras' return when he meets with team physician Michael Ciccotti on Monday, but Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. conceded Contreras' recovery could leak into next season.
The typical recovery from that surgery is four to six months.
"I don't know if he'll be ready for April 1 or not," Amaro said.
Contreras is due $2.5 million in 2012 and the Phillies hold a club option for 2013.
Watch out, Worley
Vance Worley didn't even bother moving, because wherever he goes, the balls follow him. In the ninth inning Friday, Gaby Sánchez fouled off a ball into the Phillies dugout. It bounced off the dugout bench and struck Worley in the back. It was the ninth to hit him this season.
"Everyone in the dugout looked at me," Worley said. "They knew."
Twice, Worley has been hit in the dugout. The other seven times have come while on the mound. The worst bruise was administered by Pablo Sandoval, when he drilled Worley with a liner off the back of his left calf in San Francisco. The bruising extended down to the pitcher's foot.
Worley joked, saying he asked pitching coach Rich Dubee if he could watch games from the safe confines of the clubhouse.
"I told him to wear a glove," Dubee said.
Righthander Michael Schwimer rejoined the team from triple-A Lehigh Valley as Kyle Kendrick was placed on the paternity-leave list. . . . Dubee said Joe Blanton was "fine" after throwing in his first minor-league game Friday. He will pitch again for single-A Lakewood on Monday. . . . Outfielder Scott Podsednik was reinstated from the minor-league disabled list and assigned to triple A. The 10-year veteran is a career 74.7 percent base stealer in the majors.
Contact staff writer Matt Gelb
at firstname.lastname@example.org or @magelb on Twitter.