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Joaquin Benoit criticizes Pete Mackanin’s bullpen management

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The Phillies’ bullpen has hit the skids as of late. On Tuesday against the Mariners, the ‘pen coughed up five runs in 5 1/3 innings. On Wednesday afternoon, the Phillies bullpen surrendered eight runs in three innings of work versus the M’s. Joaquin Benoit was on the hook for five of those runs on Wednesday while recording only one out, giving up three walks, a single, and two doubles.

After the game, Benoit took full responsibility for his struggles, Ed Benkin of KYW Sports reports. But Benoit also criticized the way manager Pete Mackanin has handled the bullpen, moving pitchers in and out of various roles. For example, Jeanmar Gomez started the season as the closer, but was quickly taken out in favor of Benoit. Benoit struggled, so the role went to Hector Neris. Neris struggled, and now it’s been essentially a closer-by-committee, though the Phillies haven’t had many leads to protect in the ninth inning lately.

Benoit said, “I believe that if we have a set role, everybody will fall in place. Right now I think everybody is a different piece.” He added, “It would be better if everybody knows what their role is and when you are going to contribute. Right now, I’m all over the place. It’s a little consistency not just for the pitching staff, but the people that run it, too. It works if you find a place for everybody.”

After Wednesday’s outing, the 39-year-old Benoit is sporting a 5.79 ERA with a 14/10 K/BB ratio in 14 innings. The Phillies signed him to a one-year, $7.5 million contract in December to help buoy an otherwise mostly youthful bullpen, but that hasn’t been the case thus far.

Jose Bautista is starting at third base for the first time in over four years

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Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista is getting a rare start at third base today. How rare is it? Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae notes that he last started at third base on April 14, 2013 against the Royals.

Bautista has played some third base already this year. On April 27 against the Cardinals, Bautista pinch-hit for third baseman Chris Coghlan and stayed in the game at the position. Last Saturday, Bautista moved from right field to third base as part of a handful of defensive switches. Overall, he’s played four defensive innings at the hot corner this season.

The Blue Jays have had to get creative at third base while Josh Donaldson has dealt with a calf injury. Darwin Barney and Chris Coghlan have drawn most of the starts at third base, but catcher Russell Martin started there on Sunday and tonight we’ll see Bautista there.

Braves’ bullpen hasn’t allowed a hit to last 54 batters, setting franchise record

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The Braves announced on Tuesday, citing Elias Sports, that the bullpen set a franchise record, preventing the last 54 batters faced from getting a hit.

The last reliever to allow a hit was Josh Collmenter to the first batter he faced against the Blue Jays last Thursday. Since then, the bullpen has logged 15 1/3 scoreless, hitless innings with a 10/4 K/BB ratio. Here are the logs since Collmenter gave up that hit.

Date Opp. Pitcher BF IP H R ER BB SO
May 18 vs. TOR Josh Collmenter 7 2.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 18 vs. TOR Ian Krol 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 19 vs. WAS Jason Motte 2 0.2 0 0 0 0 0
May 19 vs. WAS Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 19 vs. WAS Arodys Vizcaino 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 2
May 19 vs. WAS Jim Johnson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 20 vs. WAS Ian Krol 2 0.2 0 0 0 0 1
May 20 vs. WAS Jason Motte 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 0
May 20 vs. WAS Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
May 20 vs. WAS Arodys Vizcaino 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 20 vs. WAS Jim Johnson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 21 vs. WAS Luke Jackson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
May 22 vs. PIT Jason Motte 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 2
May 22 vs. PIT Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 22 vs. PIT Arodys Vizcaino 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 22 vs. PIT Jim Johnson 4 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 54 15.1 0 0 0 4 10

Despite the hot streak lately, the Braves’ bullpen still ranks in the middle of the pack in ERA at 4.07. Its 21.3 percent strikeout rate ranks 18th out of 30 teams and its 8.6 percent walk rate is ninth.