With Ryan Madson hitting the DL due to a bruised right hand and Brad Lidge still working his way back from an elbow injury, closing duties for the Phillies may be given to Antonio Bastardo. The 25-year-old lefty has earned the role, compiling a 33-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 28 innings with a sub-one ERA.
Formerly a starter in the minor leagues, Bastardo comes at hitters with three pitches: a low-90s fastball that touches 95 and a mid-80s slider and changeup. That power repertoire has led hitters to miss nearly 34 percent of the time that they have swung at Bastardo's stuff, the second-highest rate among relievers (Atlanta's Jonny Venters is first).
A key to Bastardo's success is his ability to get batters to expand their zones. He has a 36 percent chase rate in 2011, trailing just Venters once again among all relievers. Bastardo climbs the ladder with his fastball...
..and goes low out of the zone with his wipeout slider...
Bastardo's is mainly a fastball/slider reliever, but his changeup has a near-37 percent chase rate, too.
One of the reasons that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel might turn to Bastardo in the ninth is that the little lefty can handle batters of both hands. During his big league career, Bastardo has a .206/.302/.343 line against lefties and a .219/.308/.344 slash versus right-handers.
His control could give Manuel occasional heartburn, but Bastardo is well-equipped for a high-leverage role in the Phillies' pen. If you're a fantasy baseball junkie, grab him while you still can: Bastardo is available in almost 70 percent of ESPN leagues.