It has been a wild ride for Antonio Bastardo over the past three seasons.
In 2011, Bastardo had a first half for the ages. On July 15 of that year, the lefty had a 0.79 ERA and had gone 13 straight appearances without giving up an earned run. He was unhittable. But his unhittability would taper off a bit, finishing the year with a 2.64 ERA and ultra-impressive 0.93 WHIP. A silly .179 BABIP would help aid him that season.
The 2012 season turned weird for Tony, who would see his ERA balloon to 4.33 after 52 innings of work. His BABIP skyrocketed to .309. However, his 14.0 K/9 made him one of only 15 relief pitchers to hit that mark in major league history. Was it just luck?
Move forward to this season, one that would end prematurely for Bastardo who’d be charged with PED use. Major League Baseball suspended Bastardo 50 games on August 5, causing him to forfeit roughly $460,000.
Not only was Bastardo hit with a 50-game ban, but what made it harder to swallow was the fact that he had been pitching well. There was a belief that the old Bastardo was back to his 2011 form. His K/9 was down to just over nine prior to his suspension, however, he’d been susceptible to the long ball in the past, something he curbed this year. In 42 innings this season, Bastardo allowed only two home runs.
Other peripheral stats had gone down, too. Bastardo was inducing ground ball outs to the tune of 31 percent, over three percent lower than 2012. He was also allowing fewer line drives than the previous season. His numbers in 2013 were sort of a mix between 2011 and 2012. Any way you put it, he was mostly a positive for a Phillies bullpen that had few bright spots.
Then the suspension came, although the season was well in the bag by that point. It didn’t hurt the Phillies this year, but is a major red flag for the future.
Can Bastardo be trusted moving forward? His contract brought him $1.4 million this year and forthcoming is his second arbitration year. A raise is likely, but how much is uncertain. Is Bastardo worth the $2 million investment knowing what his recent past is? Is he really the reliever that could have been the next closer, the guy with one of the best K/9′s in history? Or, is he just another middle relief pitcher, aided by the use of PED’s for who knows how long?
It’s yet another tough decision for Ruben Amaro to make in an offseason filled with them. As far as the report card, Bastardo got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and left his team hanging. For that…
Grade: F. Although the numbers were decent, you can throw them out the window. A 50-game suspension brings you the lowest of grades.