The Philadelphia Phillies' bullpen was directly responsible for a number of losses last season. While January appearances can be deceiving, the overall relief situation appears to have improved since this time last year.
Jonathan Papelbon had a fine introductory year in 2012, even though his overall numbers weren't ideal. If this 32-year-old remains healthy, he should easily pitch within range of the 38-save total that he posted last season.
The pressure that the new Phillies' closer had to endure wasn't intended. But, a variety of injuries and performance issues within the relief core forced Charlie Manuel to use “Pap” in extended situations.
Simply adding former Texas Rangers' setup man Mike Adams through free agency this offseason was important. His addition will allow Kyle Kendrick to move from his swing-man role into a full-time starters' slot and will create a ripple effect on the remaining arms in the bullpen.
Antonio Bastardo, who avoided arbitration this week by signing a new $1.4 million one-year deal, should be more effective in a likely lessened role this season. Adams' addition means that this left-hander can be used selectively, instead of through necessity.
A large group of developing arms that includes: Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst, Jake Diekman, Michael Stutes, Justin De Fratus and B.J. Rosenberg, along with veteran Raul Valdes, offers new bullpen coach Rod Nichols plenty of opportunity. It's reasonable to project that at least one, if not two, of these relief men will be positive contributors this season.