Et tu, Eude?
And so, 12 months later, we're right back where we started, outside looking into the race for the coveted wildcard playoff spot, baseball's ultimate consolation prize. And right back with us is a diminutive lefthander who could play a critical role in the final couple weeks of the chase. Eude Brito, an AAAA pitcher if there ever was one, entered last night's contest at home against the lowly Cubs to relieve possibly the most disappointed ace of any pitching staff in the league. Verdict: Might as well should have just saved his arm when when it counts. Or counts more, anyway.
Actually, its not Brito the pitcher who is a make-or-break commodity, per se, just the state of the team's bullpen which makes a brito more valuable then he should be. For exhibit A, let's turn to the Phils bullpen and check on the health/value of the cast:
-Gordon: progressively worse stats each month and a stint on the DL
-Rhodes: brutal most of the year and done for the season.
-Madson: not injured, unless you can define injured as someone who gives up baserunners at league-high rates.
-Fultz: part of the un-dynamic duo, who, along with Geoff Geary, could be the most overused tandem in baseball. still effective enough to use regularly.
-Geary: team's best reliever. Finally has a substantial role.
-Castro: shielded and unused for months, is finally insert into a tight situation and yields a go-ahead HR. might as well never be heard from again. forget that he's yielded just 7 H in 21+ innings.
-White: better than expected, which is to say alternatingly effective and terrible. the Larry Anderson of '06.
Much like last year, the bullpen is more or less out of gas. Remember that horrific loss at Shea Stadium on Sept 27th when the bullpen blew the game, not once (Urbina) but twice (Wagner)? Down 1.5 games with only a dozen to go, the team's in the same spot again, with the some of the same problems. While the starting rotation has been better as of late, it's still the offense's playoff berth to win. There can be no flat performaces against the Wade Millers or Victor Zambranos of the word.
As evidenced by last night's tanking, having guys around like Brito, who actually pitched quite well down the stretch last year, is not a luxury. This team needs them.