Called into the game in the sixth inning, Bastardo walked the first batter he faced. This is not an unusual occurrence. I don’t have the official stats in front of me, but by rough estimation, I’d say that Bastardo has walked the first batter in about two-thirds of his appearances this season. (And I might be too generous with that estimate)
He managed to work out of that jam, but apparently, he wasn’t in the mood to succeed last night. He returned to the mound in the seventh inning and proceeded to load the bases on walks. As has happened in way too many of his outings this season, he looked terrified to throw a strike. This came on the heels of several other poor outings, including the time he ruined Mother’s Day.
Meanwhile, left fielder Dom Brown had an 0-2 night, dragging his batting average down to .202 which fits nicely alongside his .302 slugging percentage.
There has been some Twitter chatter questioning why these two are still on the Phillies roster:
Why is Antonio Bastardo still on this team?
— Section 215 (@Sec215) May 29, 2014
i really want to know why bastardo is still an MLB pitcher
— John Macri (@cheeseyMACRIoni) May 29, 2014
The answer is simple: Bastardo and Brown keep going out there because they are the Phillies’ best hope for success.
Remember back in the good old days of 2011 when the Phillies won all the time? Everyone remembers the four aces, but the bullpen was pretty successful too. Much of that was due to Bastardo stepping up to become a dominant setup man.
Since then, Bastardo has been inconsistent, although he has generally been an above average reliever. In 2013, he was having a solid season right until he was suspended for 50 games. And once he was gone, the relief corps got REALLY bad.
As for Brown, it was one year ago that most people thought he was becoming the next big hitting star for the Phillies. He hit 23 home runs in the first half of 2013, and looked like he was finally living up to his one-time status as a top prospect.
Based on those track records – and the fact that age-wise, they should be in their primes – it was reasonable to expect that Bastardo and Brown would be key contributors towards the Phillies success this year. Their failure to live up to those expectations may be the biggest reason why the team currently has a losing record.
But the Phillies need to keep putting them out there, because, despite their failures, they still provide the best hope of a turnaround.
It’s not like there are many alternatives. The Phillies have a few pitchers who they could use instead of Bastardo. But those pitchers have all struggled as well, and none of them has the history of success that Bastardo possesses.
As for Brown, the Phillies could try to use Darin Ruf more, but there are drawbacks with him as well. Ruf would hurt them defensively, and despite what his supporters might claim, Ruf doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as Brown.
In other words, going with the alternatives would likely give us the same result as if Bastardo and Brown keep failing: A losing record.
Like it or not, the Phillies best (only) chance to turn this season around is to keep sending Bastardo and Brown out there and hope they can figure things out.