Phillies bullpen going through trying stretch

Phillies bullpen going through trying stretch

PHILADELPHIA -- So much attention has been focused on the Phillies' offense that nobody has noticed how bad the bullpen has been recently.

Phillies relievers had a 2.01 ERA in 14 appearances through April 20, but have a 7.92 ERA in their last 17 games. Right-hander Chad Qualls has been one of the bullpen's biggest culprits. He has an 8.31 ERA in his last six appearances dating to April 24.

That would not be such a major problem -- every pitcher struggles for stretches -- except he has been the team's setup man. And other than closer Jonathan Papelbon, the rest of the bullpen has been inconsistent at best or ineffective at worst, with Antonio Bastardo (2.25 ERA in 12 appearances), Jose Contreras (8.59 ERA in nine appearances), Kyle Kendrick (9.53 ERA in five relief appearances) and Brian Sanches (11.25 ERA in three appearances).

The Phillies optioned right-hander Michael Schwimer (8.53 ERA in five appearances) before Wednesday's game and left-hander Joe Savery (4.50 ERA in eight appearances) after the game.

Qualls, however, thinks he found a solution to his problems. He studied film and compared his delivery from early in the season to Tuesday, when he allowed a single to David Wright to blow the lead in a 7-4 loss to the Mets at Citizens Bank Park.

"My ball is going to move, but it's not moving down as much," Qualls said before Wednesday's series finale. "There was some stuff I saw on the video. Basically, it's already fixed mentally with me right now. I'm just kind of rushing down the mound. It's an easy, quick fix. It's something in the past I wouldn't have been able to catch, but the older I get and the more I learn my mechanics I can kind of know how to fix it and correct it."