With Cliff Lee scheduled to return from the disabled list Wednesday night against the Mets, the Phillies have Kyle Kendrick available in their bullpen.
Exactly how they will use Kendrick remains to be seen, but his reinforcement is definitely needed.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee acknowledged Tuesday that the Phillies need to get their bullpen in order and that's an understatement.
After closer Jonathan Papelbon served up a three-run home run to Mets rookie Jordany Valdespin in Monday night's 5-2 loss, the Phillies' bullpen had a major-league worst 4.86 earned run average, which more than neutralized a starting rotation with a 2.98 ERA, the fourth best in baseball.
The bullpen failed to come through again in Tuesday night's 7-4 loss to the Mets as Chad Qualls and Antonio Bastardo relieved Joe Blanton in the top of the seventh inning and gave up consecutive singles to Kirk Nieuwenhuis and David Wright.
Those hits, combined with a throwing error by second baseman Pete Orr, allowed New York to take a 5-4 lead in the seventh. The Mets tacked on two more runs against the duo of Michael Schwimer and Joe Savery in the ninth.
"Our bullpen is a concern," manager Charlie Manuel said afterward. "It's definitely a concern, yes."
Manuel did not dismiss the idea of calling up lefthander Jake Diekman, who was impressive in spring training and has a 0.63 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings at triple-A Lehigh Valley.
"That will come up sooner or later," Manuel said. "Our bullpen has to pitch better, quite a bit better."
Kendrick had made four relief appearances and allowed one earned run in 4 2/3 innings before filling in for Lee, who suffered an oblique injury during a 10-inning outing against the San Francisco Giants.
Dubee said it's possible Kendrick could pitch in the later innings rather than serving as a long man out of the pen and that scenario would become even more likely if Jose Contreras continues to struggle.
"I don't know where he's going to fit in, but I think he's got a chance to do some different stuff with him," Dubee said. "We really have not had a chance to get a feel for what he can do yet."
Dubee said Lee will likely throw 75 to 80 pitches "depending on how hard he is pushed or how easy it goes" in his return from the disabled list.
Hamels to pitch Sunday
As expected, Cole Hamels' five-game suspension will push his next scheduled start back only one day.
Manager Charlie Manuel confirmed that the lefthander will return to the rotation Sunday against the San Diego Padres. He had been scheduled to pitch Saturday, but Roy Halladay will move into that spot and pitch on regular rest.
Hamels had no interest in advancing his Sunday night saga with the Washington Nationals when given a chance to do so Tuesday.
"I'm just going to let it go," he said.
Hamels was suspended and fined an undisclosed amount Monday after admitting he intentionally hit 19-year-old rookie Bryce Harper in the back. He indicated that the fine was not an astronomical amount. He said he does not lose any of his $15 million base salary during the suspension.
The commissioner's office also fined Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo an undisclosed amount for his verbal attack on Hamels after the Sunday night incident. The story was first reported by CSNPhilly.com.
Halladay rebounded from his worst performance in a Phillies uniform with a strong seven-inning effort Monday against the Mets, and Dubee said he was never worried about the Phillies ace.
"Up until his last game in Atlanta, he had better numbers this year than he had last year at the same point," Dubee said, his voice rising with each word. "You can say all you want about the damn numbers. All you want. Write your columns, write your articles, I don't care. But his numbers were better."
Dubee also said too much has been made of Halladay's velocity.
"I don't know if he's ever been a flamethrower," he said. "Ninety-two, 93, and an occasional 94 isn't 97 or 98, so it's not like he's a gasoline monster. He's hard to pick up and he's got action. Ask hitters about him."
Laynce Nix probably would have been in Tuesday night's starting lineup, but he is bothered by a sore calf. John Mayberry Jr. started at first base. Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies' best hitter through 30 games, batted fifth for the second time in four games.