Originally posted on Phillies Nation  |  Last updated 7/12/12

Schwimer has been a bright spot for the bullpen in the first half of 2012. Photo: AP

Today we continue with our All-Star Break Grades. Including Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton, 15 Phillies pitchers have pitched out of the bullpen in 2012. For the purposes of these grades, we will lump them in with the starters and focus on the 13 others. As my newest colleague Eric Seidman indicated yesterday, there is plenty of time and room for these fellas to turn it around.

The Surprises

Michael Schwimer – The giant righty from Alexandria, VA has been a pleasant anchor in the Phillies ‘pen. Schwimer trails only Papelbon, Qualls, and Bastardo in appearances for the Phils despite not starting the year with the team and trails only Papelbon in ERA. Schwimer’s 6.75 K/9 IP indicates he is pitching more to contact and should only improve as his BB/9 IP has dropped. Not many expected much from Schwimer, but as he told us on Phillies Nation TV, he was working hard with Rich Dubee to improve his approach, pitch selection, and placement. Grade: B

Jake Diekman – Like Schwimer, Diekman did not make the Phillies out of Spring Training. Also like Schwimer, Diekman has become one of the Phillies most reliable relievers. Diekman burst on to the scene on May 15, bailing Qualls out of a jam, striking out 3 in 1.1 IP to earn the win against Houston. After giving up 4 ER in his next outing against Chicago, Diekman has not looked back. In that time frame, Diekman has 23 Ks in 15.2 IP with a 1.72 ERA and a .220 BAA. Diekman, the only MLB’er ever from Cloud County Community College in Concordia, KS, is a powerful strikeout artist who will continue to improve. Grade: B+

Not What We Had Hoped For

Antonio Bastardo – Bastardo had a breakthrough season last year, finishing with a WHIP under 1 and establishing himself as 1B to Jonny Venters 1A in terms of lefty set-up men in the NL. Bastardo looked like that jump to the next level was real, pitching quite well through mid-June before surrendering 3 runs and blowing a 2-0 lead on the 24th against the Rays. Bastardo has allowed 12 ER in his last 9 appearances, ballooning his ERA to 5.34 and his WHIP over 1.4. Where strides were made last year in reducing walks, Bastardo has faltered, offering 5.7 BB/9 IP. There is plenty of time to turn it around this season and moving forward and hopefully those last 9 appearances were an anomaly. Grade: C-

Chad Qualls – Pop-quiz: Which Phillies reliever started the year with six consecutive shutout innings? Before Qualls hit the wall, he was mildly effective. But when he hit the wall, he hit it with the force of a bus being rammed by a semi with dynamite in the back of it. Sure, his 4.60 ERA as a Phil is better than Bastardo’s but Bastardo has only 1 blown save versus 5 for Qualls. With a 1.532 WHIP as a Phil, Qualls was allowing over a runner and a half to reach reach base per inning and allowed 7 long balls in just over 34 innings. Best of luck, Yankees fans. Grade: D

Joe Savery – Savery is a sentimental favorite of mine. Very few players’ journey to the Bigs include switching between position player and pitcher several times, sometimes in midseason. Many, including myself, saw Savery as a left-handed specialist. Unfortunately, Savery’s line against lefties spoke otherwise: .265/.270/.412. Savery’s 3.06 ERA ballooned to 5.87 after allowing 9 ER in his last 5.1 IP. If there is anything that I have learned, though, from Savery is that he will be back. I think the last three appearances might have been a case of snakebite; Savery is better than a 5.87 ERA and hopefully will get the opportunity to show that. Grade: D+

Jonathan Papelbon – Maybe it is just the taste of sour grapes for the blown save against the Mets that is still fresh in my mouth. Or maybe it’s because I expect a lot from a $50 million closer. The good? Papelbon leads the NL in games finished, has only two blown saves, and his WHIP is near his career average. The discouraging? His H/9 IP are up, his HR/ 9 IP is almost tripled from last year, his BB/9 IP is at a 57% increase from last year, and his K/9 IP are down by a modest K/9 IP. All closers are overpaid, including Papelbon. But for $50 million, I was hoping for slight improvement, not signs of decline. Still, he has been effective.  Grade: B

Bitten by the Injury Bug

Jose Contreras – What a tease Jose Contreras has been. The Big Truck, at times, has shown flashes of a dominating reliever, a pitcher capable of entering the game and getting the big strike out. In his last 7 appearances with the Phillies before his injury, Contreras held 18 opposing batters to a .056/.056/.056 triple-slash, striking out six. Unfortunately, it looks like the Big Truck may have broken down for good just as he was recovering from a tune up. Grade: C- with a Get Well Soon

Mike Stutes - Stutes quickly emerged on the scene as a fan favorite as a rookie right-handed set-up man in 2011 after a late April call-up. He was not as effective this year,and possibly the end of last year, for good reason: Stutes pitched through shoulder soreness. Stutes pitched just 5.2 innings this year. Grade: Incomplete with a Get Well Soon

David Herndon – Herndon’s sneaky-good year last year (3.32 ERA, 6.2 K/9 IP for a sinkerballer) had me overly optimistic that Herndon would be a great fit in this year’s ‘pen. Unfortunately, the Herndog faced some elbow trouble, underwent Tommy John surgery in mid-June, and will be shelved until mid-2013. Grade: Disappointingly incomplete with a Get Well Soon

Non-Rostered Call-Ups

Raul Valdes – The journeyman Valdes has been surprisingly effective for the Phils. Fifth on the team in innings pitched out of the bullpen, Valdes started the year with an 8.1 IP scoreless streak. Two hiccups against the Mets and one against the Pirates later, Valdes now sports a modest 3.80 ERA but an impressive 0.891 WHIP. Valdes has done a great job filling in for injured Phils and, if judged in context, deserves an above average grade. Grade: B

Brian Sanches – Sanches has only pitched in 5 games for the Phils and has given up home runs in 3 of them. In a very small sample, Sanches has been incredibly ineffective, struggling slightly with walks but more so with the long ball. No grade for Sanches, but it hasn’t been pretty. Grade: Incomplete

Jeremy Horst – Horst has had an excellent start to his Phillies career, pitching 5 scoreless frames. Way too early to tell, but he has already been more valuable than Wilson Valdez and should continue to improve with more Big League experience. Grade: Incomplete

B.J. Rosenberg – Rosenberg has been on the wrong side of some big innings in his three appearances with the Phils. The big 26 year-old righty shows big promise and it is important to remember that Rosenberg has jumped 2 levels this year to pitch in the Show; before 2012, Rosenberg had not pitched higher than Double-A Reading. Despite an ugly start on Friday, Rosenberg still has a 2.36 ERA in Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Grade: Incomplete

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