Location over velocity for Phillies' relievers

Location over velocity for Phillies' relievers

ST. LOUIS -- Location, not high velocity, is everything to the Phillies' bullpen.

Without any traditional flamethrowers who can routinely throw in the high 90's, Phillies' relievers are showing that the strikeouts don't have to pile up while topping the radar gun. Entering Tuesday's game against the Cardinals, Phillies relievers had 94 strikeouts, third most in the big leagues behind Boston (96) and Minnesota (95).

"It's nice to have a big arm, but those guys still have to throw quality strikes," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "If you throw 97, it's great if you throw it here or here or elevate it, but if it's thigh-high two or three in row, Major Leaguers can hit it."

Reliever Andrew Bailey gives a lot of credit to pitching coach Bob McClure and bullpen coach Rick Kranitz for developing detailed scouting reports.

"We don't throw over 100 miles per hour and none of us really throw over 95," Bailey said. "For us, it's knowing the scouting reports, knowing how to make balls appear in the zone and finishing out of the zone to get swings-and-misses. Obviously, location's very important no matter what velocity you throw at."

Roster decisions on the make-up of a fluid bullpen situation out of Spring Training hinged on command.

"[Luis] Garcia didn't make team out of Spring Training and he's got a big arm, because of the command of his pitches," Mackanin said. "And Bailey didn't make the team either because he didn't show command. That's more important, command, control and movement. [Jeanmar] Gomez has been successful as a closer to this point because he's making quality pitches consistently."

Strong leadership by catchers Cameron Rupp and Carlos Ruiz have been instrumental, too.

"Cameron Rupp and Chooch have a great idea of what they're doing every single inning, every single batter," Bailey said. "They know how to use each pitcher's repertoire to have success."

Joe Harris is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.