There's no denying it now: the Phils' bullpen is leaking oil.
For every surprise performance by, say, a David Herndon, there have uglier surprises by heretofore reliable pitchers.
Antonio Bastardo, one strike away from settling things yesterday, blew a save when he yielded his second home run in August allowing Washington to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. The next inning, Brad Lidge, whose best pitch is more than likely to be in the dirt as not, hit a batter with the bases loaded to blow the third game in seven in which the Phillies led going into the ninth inning. Their once bloated 9.5 lead over Atlanta is now a more manageable 6.5 game spead.
Bastardo and Lidge haven't been the only culprits. Ryan Madson blew a 2 run lead in the ninth the other day, allowing six runs including a walk-off grand slam homer.
New call up Michael Schwimmer began his big league career by yielding a home run to the first batter he ever faced. Michael Stutes had a good outing Saturday night, but he, too, has had his ups and downs recently.
So, this isn't just a question of the league catching up with youngsters. Madson and Lidge in particular aren't spring chickens. Lidge is an especially troubling case because it cannot be easy for Charlie Manuel to send out a reliever who lacks command.
The schedule offers some potential temporary relief with two upcoming series with the Mets and Marlins but in September the Phils will face the Braves and Brewers back-to-back. That should be interesting.