Jose Contreras threw his fifth pitch of the seventh inning in Friday night’s 6-4 win over the Marlins and doubled over in pain. It’s the last pitch Contreras will throw this season. It could be the last pitch Contreras throws in his career now that he’s been diagnosed with a torn UCL and pronator flexor tendon that requires Tommy John surgery.
As another domino on the Phillies roster fell, the puzzle that is the Phillies’ bullpen became more abstract than ever. Sure, they have a definitive closer in Jonathan Papelbon. But there’s a reason Papelbon came in for the last five outs of Friday’s win. It was certainly not Charlie Manuel’s first choice. But the win was too important to let slip away at the hands of a discombobulated bullpen.
Here’s the knowns. The bullpen still has consistency in members like Antonio Bastardo, Joe Savery and Chad Qualls. They have been the only regular members of the bullpen to this point. Jake Diekman, Raul Valdes and Michael Schwimer were not always on the roster. Mike Stutes, David Herndon and now Contreras have all gone down with injuries.
Bastardo is going to get the first chance to be the regular set-up man because he has done it before. That is certainly a good enough reason at this point. Diekman looks like he has the potential to become a set-up man soon, but for now moves into Bastardo’s old role of lefty specialist.
Valdes has been a decent innings eater. Schwimer and Qualls are sort of last resorts at this point after Qualls’ bid to be the set-up man failed. As the only two right-handers in the bullpen, the Phillies have no choice but to give Qualls a longer leash again.
So the Phillies will continue to work around what they have. They have had to do that with the lineup, a spot that clearly suffered yesterday in their 5-4 loss to the Marlins, they have had to do that with the rotation, and they now have to continue going on with what they have in the bullpen.
It may be an unknown, mixed-up bullpen, but like everything else, every time they succeed, they defy the odds more and more.