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Phillies Increase Young Relievers’ Competition with Signing of Chad Durbin

The Phillies added Chad Durbin today, inking him to a one-year, $1.1M contract.  Durbin can earn up to $350k in incentives, and the contract includes a club option for 2014.

Chad  Durbin, who spent 2008-2010 with the Phillies, returns for 2013.(Photo Credit: Karen Starkey via photopin cc)

Chad Durbin, who spent 2008-2010 with the Phillies, returns for 2013.
(Photo Credit: Karen Starkey via photopin cc)

What does this mean for the Phillies in 2013?

First, the Durbin signing gives the Phillies a durable, middle relief workhorse, capable of pitching multiple innings and anywhere from the 6th through 8th innings.

Take a look at Durbin’s stats over the last five years—the time that Durbin has spent exclusively as a reliever:

Year Age Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2007 29 DET 8 7 .533 4.72 36 19 7 1 127.2 133 71 67 21 49 66 97 1.426 9.4 1.5 3.5 4.7 1.35
2008 30 PHI 5 4 .556 2.87 71 0 12 1 87.2 81 33 28 5 35 63 152 1.323 8.3 0.5 3.6 6.5 1.80
2009 31 PHI 2 2 .500 4.39 59 0 15 2 69.2 56 38 34 8 47 62 96 1.478 7.2 1.0 6.1 8.0 1.32
2010 32 PHI 4 1 .800 3.80 64 0 9 0 68.2 63 29 29 7 27 63 108 1.311 8.3 0.9 3.5 8.3 2.33
2011 33 CLE 2 2 .500 5.53 56 0 11 0 68.1 86 45 42 12 26 59 71 1.639 11.3 1.6 3.4 7.8 2.27
2012 34 ATL 4 1 .800 3.10 76 0 19 1 61.0 52 25 21 9 28 49 130 1.311 7.7 1.3 4.1 7.2 1.75
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/28/2013.

Durbin’s put together a nice stretch of baseball over that time, with only one weak season in 2011 with the Indians.  He’s been about average, maybe a tinge below, over that time, but he also put together two excellent seasons during that stretch: the first (2008 with the Phillies) and the last (2012 with the Braves).

Pitching in the NL East has been where Durbin has been the most successful, and he’s pitched at least 60 innings in each of the last six seasons.  Like most relievers, he’s susceptible to large shifts in production, (look at the drastic difference between his last two seasons), at least in terms of ERA.  But looking at his peripheral stats like WHIP, H/9, BB/9, K/9, etc., he’s actually been fairly consistent as a reliever.

The signing of Durbin makes it a little bit harder for young right-handers like Michael Schwimmer (sporting the pink rookie backpack) to crack the Opening Day roster.(Photo Credit: Darrins via photopin cc)

The signing of Durbin makes it a little bit harder for young right-handers like Michael Schwimmer (sporting the pink rookie backpack) to crack the Opening Day roster.
(Photo Credit: Darrins via photopin cc)

Durbin gives Charlie Manuel another veteran option in a relatively young bullpen (only Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Adams have more 3 years in the majors).  He should prove a mentor to the younger arms as a veteran middle reliever who spent three years donning the Red Pinstripes, reaching the postseason all three seasons.

He also boots another young arm to AAA Lehigh Valley to start the season.  Odds are, it’s a fellow right-hander.  That means Spring Training just got even more meaningful for Michael Schwimer, Phillippe Aumont, Justin De Fratus, Mike Stutes and B.J. Rosenberg.

All in all, this is the kind of signing that makes sense for the Phillies.  The risk is minimal, the return is relatively known, and the commitment is short.  I like the pickup, as should anyone not named Schwimer, Aumont, De Fratus, Stutes or Rosenberg.

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