Steve Bedrosian did not start thinking about winning the Cy Young Award in 1987 until someone mentioned it to him in the final month of the season. So it certainly wasn’t on his mind that April when the relief pitcher ended the season’s first month with a 7.84 ERA, providing plenty of fodder for the fans in South Philly.
“They let me know it,” Bedrosian said.
But the Phillies closer nicknamed “Bedrock” wasn’t fazed. He remained poised, posted a 2.17 ERA the rest of the way, converted 40 of his 48 save chances, became a favorite at Veterans Stadium, and received a call in November that he was the National League’s Cy Young winner.
That season was one of four Bedrosian spent in Philadelphia during a 14-year major-league career and it provided a lesson of perseverance to pass to his sons when he coached them in high school baseball in suburban Atlanta. Now it is a reminder for his son Cam, who was promoted Wednesday to the Phillies, earning a spot in his dad’s old bullpen.
“Just stay even-keeled,” Steve Bedrosian, 63, said Wednesday night by phone. “You’re going to have some tough times. Being from Boston, I know the fans are very knowledgeable and very demanding up there. If Cam does struggle, he’s going to hear it. He did in L.A. But it’s a little different there.
“Philly fans and Boston fans and New York fans, they’re a little bit tougher. If things don’t go well, you have to stay even-keeled and keep going. Go back out there the next night and get after it because when you’re good, they love you. It works both ways.”
The Phillies added Cam Bedrosian, 29, after rosters expanded by two players for the final month of the season. He spent the last seven weeks in triple A, which is where the Phillies stashed the right-hander after signing him in July when he was released by Oakland.
Bedrosian wore No. 40 in Lehigh Valley — the same number his dad wore for his four seasons in Philly — and posted a 2.25 ERA over 16 appearances while averaging nine strikeouts per nine innings. “Little Bedrock” will give the Phillies an extra arm with big-league experience: He has logged 300 games over the last eight seasons, seven of which were spent with the Angels before splitting his time this year with the Reds and A’s.
And he has an idea of what to expect in Philly.
“To wear this Phillies uniform is pretty cool,” Bedrosian said. “My dad had plenty of good memories here and he talked about it often. It took a little while to figure out that he won the Cy Young. You always see him as a dad and then you step back and say, ‘Wow, he won the Cy Young.’ It’s really awesome. That’s the inspiration, and he always pushed me to be my own person.”
Bedrosian does not throw hard — his fastball averaged this season at 93.08 mph — so he’s at his best when he’s commanding his pitches. His fastball is nearly 3 mph slower than it was in 2016, a career-best season cut short by surgery to remove a blood clot from his shoulder. With surgery came a loss of velocity and a need to relearn how to pitch.
“I really admire the kid for working through that,” Steve said. “He learned to pitch on the fly doing that and that’s not easy to do. He had to really make sure he located. And I told him on the phone, you have to have confidence in every pitch you throw at any time and you can throw that splitter, which seems to be getting better and better every year.
“I’ve seen some nasty ones this year. That [velocity] when you’re throwing 97 and you miss a little bit, it’s a little more forgiving. When you miss at 91-92, those hitters don’t care. They’ll crush those.”
Bedrosian was limited the past two seasons by injuries and he started slowly this season in Cincinnati, which released him less than three weeks into the campaign. He was better in Oakland but was released due to a numbers crunch in the bullpen.
He latched on with the Phillies, headed to the minors, and returned to the majors for the final month of a playoff push. He called his dad on Tuesday night to tell him he was joining his old team.
“We’re all excited,” Steve Bedrosian said. “Mom is beside herself. We’re going to watch all the games, of course. He’ll be ready when they call on him. Cam has been in every situation from mop-up to closer. He’ll be ready no matter what. He knows how to handle it. We’re super excited.”