That seems to be slowly changing for the better and one pitcher, in particular, has really emerged as a solid arm.
Left-hander Jake Diekman was the pleasant surprise of the 2012 Spring Training. The side-armed lefty had a deceptive delivery with a biting slider that made him a nightmare for left-handed hitters. He bounced between Philadelphia and Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year but ended up with a decent line in the majors. He pitched in 32 games going 1-1 with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP allowing 17 runs (12 earned) on 25 hits with 20 walks and 35 strikeouts in 27.1 innings.
However this season has been a different story for Diekman, he struggled early but has turned it on of late. In the last 28 days, the 26 year old has pitched in 10 games allowing one run on three hits with two walks and 15 strikeouts in 10.0 innings pitched. On the year he has appeared in 38 games goings 1-4 with a 3.03 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP allowing 15 runs (11 earned) on 31 hits with 14 walks and 35 strikeouts in 32.2 innings pitched.
Where is making him so effective? MLB.com's Todd Zolecki points out that his velocity has been top notch. Diekman has hit 99 mph with his fastball and averages 95.4 mph on his fastballs over his last two seasons. Zolecki states that, since 2002, only Billy Wagner (96.7 mph) and Felix Rodriguez (95.6 mph) have had a higher average velocity for the Phillies.
If Diekman can keep this up, the Phillies just might've found their new left-handed specialist in the bullpen. At the very least it will be fun to watch him light up a radar gun.
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