Phillies shake up their bullpen
A day after a miserable performance by their bullpen, the Philadelphia Phillies shook things up.
Veteran right-hander Chad Qualls was designated for assignment and righty Brian Sanches and lefty Jeremy Horst were called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Lefty Joe Savery was already optioned after Wednesday night's 11-7 loss to Pittsburgh.
''The bullpen is an area we have to address,'' general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said before Thursday afternoon's game against the Pirates. ''We've lacked consistency. We have some talent there. It's tough to put the kids in there. We're in a position to win. It's a challenge for them.''
Philadelphia's relievers began the day with a 9-13 record and a 4.67 ERA that ranked next-to-last in the NL. The Phillies used all relievers Wednesday because of a doubleheader Sunday. It didn't work. The light-hitting Pirates had a season high in runs (11) and hits (14).
Qualls began the season as the primary setup man for closer Jonathan Papelbon. He was 1-1 with a 4.60 ERA in 35 games for the Phillies. The veteran had six straight scoreless appearances to open the year, but posted a 5.68 ERA in his last 29 games.
''We felt it was the right thing to do,'' Amaro said. ''It's been inconsistency with him.''
Sanches is 0-1 with an 11.25 ERA in three appearances with the Phillies this season. For Triple-A Lehigh Valley, he was 3-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 21 games. Sanches is 13-7 with a 3.71 ERA in 192 major league appearances.
Horst was 2-1 with two saves and a 2.11 ERA in 26 games in Triple-A. He had a 2.93 ERA in 12 games for Cincinnati last year.
The five-time defending NL East champion Phillies have struggled this season, mainly because of injuries to star players and their bullpen problems. But they are now mired at the bottom of the NL East.
Chase Utley returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing the first 76 games. Ryan Howard will begin a rehab stint Thursday night. Roy Halladay is making progress and could be back with three or four weeks.
None of them are relievers, though.
Finding bullpen help before the trade deadline next month won't be easy. The addition of a second wild-card team allows more teams to stay in the playoff race.
''We're not going to see much movement with two wild cards,'' Amaro said. ''There's a lot of teams in contention and not many teams have a lot of depth.''
Rob Maaddi can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/RobMaaddi