Before the season started, pitchers Vance Worley, Mike Stutes, and Antonio Bastardo were three names that were barely on the Phillies’ radar. All three pitchers were young, untested arms, each vying for a spot on the major league pitching staff.
Fast-forward to June 29th 2011. Worley is the winning pitcher of a 2-1 pitching duel after going seven innings against one of the league’s most potent lineups. Stutes relieved Worley in the eighth inning, and mowed down the opposition for a clean inning. Bastardo, the team’s fourth closer of the season, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to preserve the win.
Wednesday’s win against the Red Sox can be largely attributed to the success of the young trio of pitchers.
Worley turned in what might be the most impressive outing of his young career. He lasted seven innings, and gave up only one run on five hits, and struck out five. A key for the success of the young righthander was that he was able to cut down on his walks, only issuing two free passes in the game. The Red Sox are one of the most patient teams in the league, and for Worley (a pitcher who has gotten himself into trouble with walks) to refine his biggest flaw and come up large in a big game is very encouraging.
Stutes and Bastardo have been two keys to the bullpen all season. The two young pitchers have stepped up all season when called upon, and don’t seem to be intimidated by whatever challenge gets thrown their way. They will have the responsibility of handling the eighth and ninth innings on their own until Ryan Madson returns from the disabled list.
Their first big test in this role came tonight against a dangerous lineup with a mere one-run lead, and once again both Stutes and Bastardo rose to the challenge, and didn’t allow a single batter to reach base.
The young pitchers continue to be a pleasant surprise for the Phillies this season. Whether or not they can continue to sustain such impressive efforts remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt that the likes of Worley, Stutes, and Bastardo have been critical to the team’s success so far this season.