Phillies: Who should the team use in a bullpen game?

JoJo Romero #79 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
JoJo Romero #79 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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JoJo Romero #79 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

JoJo Romero can pitch 1 2/3 between the sixth and seventh innings.

JoJo Romero has done well since being promoted to the majors, recording a 2.89 ERA in 9 1/3 innings across nine relief appearances. On Monday, Romero escaped trouble following Arrieta’s injury and tossed two scoreless innings, allowing only one hit while striking out two.

Romero is a starter by trade and has already pitched more than one inning on four occasions since joining the big-league squad. He’s given up only three earned runs between two games this season and did not surrender a single hit in five of his outings, though all seven hits came in four of his last five outings.

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The left-handed pitcher can provide length and has done well so far in the majors, despite a hefty 6.88 ERA in 13 games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year. He did improve in the Arizona Fall League, with a 0.84 ERA in eight games, and would be a good pitcher to take part in a bullpen game.

A combination of Tommy Hunter, Hector Neris, and Brandon Workman can close out the game.

Tommy Hunter has been consistently reliable, giving up runs in only five of his 20 appearances. He started the season with a 2.81 ERA before back-to-back outings of less than an inning, giving up a combined five earned runs. He improved in his two most recent outings, allowing no runs through 1 1/3 combined innings; he would be a good pitcher for the eighth inning.

Former closer Hector Neris or current closer Brandon Workman can pitch the ninth inning, depending on the score.

Neris may have earned back his closer role, however, recording the save in Monday’s series opener against the Mets. Neris improved dramatically from an 11.12 ERA in his first eight games to a 0.90 ERA in his last 11 outings. Meanwhile, Workman recorded five saves to two blown saves since being traded from the Red Sox to the Phillies, while giving up an earned run or more in five of 11 games with the team.

Even Spencer Howard can join a bullpen game.

Once Spencer Howard returns from the injured list, he could be used in a bullpen game to provide a couple of innings and save a reliever or two for extra innings or another game. The seven-inning doubleheaders also make a bullpen game easier.

Howard has a 5.92 ERA in six starts since being promoted to the big leagues, though he pitched four or more innings in only half of those starts.

Another reason to use him in a bullpen game is the opponent averages against him, granted it’s a small sample size. Opponents are hitting only .184 in their first plate appearance against Howard, compared to .405 and .444 in their second and third.

While the bullpen is often criticized, for good reason, a bullpen game involving Velasquez or Howard may be a better bet than a regular start.