Band of brothers thrive in Phils' bullpen
Fun-loving relievers get serious when their number is called
PHILADELPHIA -- Scott Eyre stroked his goatee and furrowed his brow in serious contemplation. Briefly, his eyes lit up like someone realizing he had the answer.It vanished. "What would we call ourselves?" the Phillies lefty reliever said of the group of vagabond personalities that make up the National League's best bullpen. "I can't come up with anything."
"Wait," Condrey said. "The Ugly Sticks."The Phillies just call them effective, and why not? The bullpen enters the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers with the lowest ERA (3.19) in the league. The team went 65-9 when leading after seven innings and 78-0 when ahead after eight. Most of that is credited to Brad Lidge, the NL Comeback Player of the Year who went 41-for-41 in save chances and compiled a 1.95 ERA. Setting him up is an interesting supporting cast consisting of cutups Ryan Madson and Eyre, who never run out of one-liners. In one game, the group made Madson stay in the bathroom because they believed a mid-inning trip there spurred a rally. It's possible, of course, that they just needed a Madson break. Madson loves to do impressions of Lidge's booming voice and will share off-color remarks. His bullpen name contribution was unprintable. "It's just me," he said. "What am I supposed to do?" Chad Durbin runs a recruiting Web site for high school athletes, making him the entrepreneur of the group. J.C. Romero is a former collegiate outfielder, prone to chest-pounding after emotional inning-ending strikeouts. He never did that as a hitter. "I pimped a home run once, and got drilled the next two times up," Romero said.
|"Everyone has stepped up and performed at a higher level than people were expecting. These guys are legitimate pitchers, and all can pitch in clutch situations. As a whole, it's the best bullpen I've ever been a part of."|
|-- Brad Lidge|
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.