Phillies Notebook: Phillies' struggling bullpen could be getting some relief

Posted: April 11, 2014

FROM blowing back-to-back games in Texas last week to the inability to keep games close in the middle innings this week in Philly, the Phillies' bullpen has been a trouble spot in 2014.

The relief corps entered yesterday 0-3 with a 4.94 ERA through the first eight games of the season.

Coming into yesterday: Only six major league bullpens have allowed more runs (16). Only the White Sox and A's have more blown saves (two). Only the A's, White Sox and Reds have a poorer strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.54).

But help could be on the way, some of it sooner and some of it down the road.

Mike Adams will throw his next minor league rehab at Triple A Lehigh Valley tomorrow. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Adams could be back in the Phillies' bullpen on Monday.

Adams, the former setup man who had shoulder surgery on July 31, would be a welcome addition to the back end of the 'pen. Manager Ryne Sandberg has leaned heavily on lefthanders Jake Diekman and Antonio Bastardo, and hasn't had an effective righthanded option for late-inning situations.

Since Adams is coming off shoulder surgery, however, it's uncertain just how much help he'll be able to provide. Adams threw back-to-back games for the first time this week; he allowed a run on two hits and a walk, while also striking out two, in the second half of those back-to-backs on Wednesday in Clearwater, Fla.

The Phillies could add two power arms to the 'pen this summer.

Ethan Martin, who entered camp as a possible fifth-starter candidate, was told he will work exclusively as a reliever. Martin dealt with shoulder pain in early March and will throw the first bullpen session of his rehab today.

"I think it's the best thing for him and his future," Amaro said. "He's probably has the chance to be a much more dominant bullpen guy then he would as a starter. So we'll see how it goes. I think he's happy about it and ready to go."

Another name to keep an eye on: Kenny Giles.

Giles, 23, entered major league camp this spring without ever having pitched beyond Class A. But he's impressed in his first week at Double A Reading: Giles has struck out nine of the 12 batters he's faced in three scoreless appearances.

Armed with a fastball that reaches 100 mph, Giles drew rave reviews this spring. After Giles was sent down to minor league camp as one of the last cuts, Sandberg said the reliever wasn't far from being ready for a major league 'pen.

"No, not with his velocity, not with his breaking pitch," Sandberg said in March. "I don't think he's far away at all."

Said Amaro yesterday: "One of the good things we're seeing is he's starting to develop some command, more constant command, down in the zone with his fastball. It's not just that he's throwing 100 miles an hour, but where he's throwing it. He's been putting up some pretty good sliders, too. It's a progression for him, but hopefully he starts to make things a lot more comfortable for us about giving him an opportunity for us. We'll see."

Pettibone starts

As expected, Jonathan Pettibone will start for the Phillies tomorrow, the first date on the 2014 schedule when the team needs a fifth starter.

Pettibone dealt with a shoulder ailment at the beginning of spring training, but has progressed without issue in the last 2 months. Pettibone, 23, went 5-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 18 starts with the Phillies last summer before being shut down for the season's final 2 months with a shoulder injury.

The Phillies chose Pettibone over Jeff Manship, who is currently in the team's bullpen, and David Buchanan, who has pitched well at Triple A Lehigh Valley but would be pitching on short rest after throwing 93 pitches on Tuesday.

"Pettibone earned an opportunity to pitch with us; he got hurt [at the beginning of the spring]," Amaro said. "As long as we felt he was aggressive and healthy, he was probably the No. 1 candidate going in anyway."

The Phillies will have to make a roster move before tomorrow's game to create a spot for Pettibone - and then another on Monday if Adams is activated. Amaro said there are no shortage of options.

"None of the guys have pitched so well that they can't be considered for a guy to be sent out," Amaro said. "That's the bottom line."

Galvis update

Freddy Galvis could be activated off the disabled list before the Phillies begin a three-game series against the Miami Marlins tonight.

Galvis, who was diagnosed with a MRSA infection in his left knee 3 weeks ago, made his third straight start at Class A Clearwater last night. He began playing in extending spring training games last week.

Galvis' return could mean that fellow infielder Cesar Hernandez will be sent down to Triple A Lehigh Valley. Although the Phillies could also designate Jayson Nix for assignment, they'd likely prefer to keep Nix around, while letting Hernandez get regular at-bats to keep his bat sharp as a 23-year-old prospect.

On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21


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