Monday night's brutal loss was yet another example of the Phillies' bullpen lacking relievers that have the combination of above-average stuff and command of the strike zone.
Jonathan Papelbon doesn't throw as hard as he once did, but he's still sharp most times out.
After that? Nobody in the Phillies' bullpen has a genuine out-pitch that he can locate consistently.
Jake Diekman? He can throw 96-plus with a filthy slider, but he either doesn't trust his stuff enough to let it rip or physically cannot locate his fastball with consistency. Eleven of his first 14 pitches in Monday's blown save were balls, and that was just the ninth-wildest outing of his young career.
Antonio Bastardo? Again, good stuff, deceptive to lefties, tremendous break on his slider. But again, no ability to throw consistent strikes.
Justin De Fratus and B.J. Rosenberg? Both have mid-90s fastballs. Straight mid-90s fastballs. Rosenberg has made 50 major-league appearances and given up 30 earned runs. His career ERA is 5.51. He's allowed seven homers in 49 innings and walked 4.4 batters per nine. The pitches he hung Monday night could have been hit out by Ben Revere.
Papelbon, Bastardo, Diekman and Mike Adams will, barring injury, likely spend the rest of the year in the Phils' bullpen. But every other reliever on this roster is the definition of expendable.
Enter Ken Giles.
The Phillies' 100 mph reliever is thriving at Double A Reading with five saves in as many opportunities. He has yet to allow a run, and in six innings he's given up one hit and two walks while striking out 14 batters.
"I think you have to think about it ... I think he's made great strides," Amaro said of promoting Giles to the majors. "I mean, this is the first time he’s ever pitched above A-ball and what did he have, a 6.00 or 7.00 ERA last year in A-ball? And he’s coming off a year where the kid, the young man is still learning, but if he continues to locate his fastball and throw strikes consistently and we feel like he’s a guy that can help us, then we’ll bring him."
Giles is 23 years old. Phillippe Aumont, Bastardo, Ryan Madson, Michael Stutes, Kyle Kendrick, Jonathan Pettibone and Vance Worley all debuted for the Phillies between ages 22-24. A promotion for Giles would be far from unprecedented.
"We're not afraid to bring guys to the big leagues," said Amaro, who also noted that the Phils have no issue promoting a pitcher from Double A straight to the majors. "For us it’s about whether or not we feel the player can handle it. We don’t just bring a guy just because he happens to have a hot hand. We have to take the whole picture into consideration and the whole body of work of this young man and the way he handles things.”
The Phils would like to see Giles handle adversity first before debuting -- "We've got to give him the experience and see how he handles failure as well," Amaro said -- but if Giles keeps dominating the competition and the Phillies' bullpen keeps turning wins into losses, that might be a prerequisite worth overlooking.