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March 21 2007

Popular consensus seems to have the Phillies keeping six starters and, despite my seemingly lone vote for Hamels, most think it's Lieber or Eaton headed to the pen.  Some have suggested in recent days that of the two, Lieber might be better suited for a bullpen role than Eaton.

I still have some questions about whether the Phillies will actually put Lieber in the pen.  He started for them on opening day last season, it's hard to think the Phillies' perception of him has gone from best starter to sixth starter in a year.  If they still have him at the start of the season they will no doubt still be trying to trade him to a team that would use him as a starter -- it's hard to demonstrate he's a valuable starter if you aren't willing to give him the ball yourself.  Last season was the first in the last ten in which he's thrown to an ERA over 4.50.  Still, I think you can make the case that Lieber would do a better job out of the pen than Eaton.

When you look at a starting pitcher's numbers for the first 15 pitches he throws, there are several things that are important not to forget.  First is that it's very common for a starting pitcher to have worse numbers in his first 15 pitches than he does overall.  The second is that this more likely represents the fact that the starting pitcher is facing better hitters than that he is less effective in his first 15 pitches.  The first inning is the inning in which the team the starting pitcher is facing can best control who will come to the plate -- they usually send their best hitters (at least by the time they get to third in the order, if not in the leadoff man and second hitter).

That said, Lieber has just been better than Eaton in his first 15 pitches over his career.  Here's what the two have done in their first 15 pitches compared to their career numbers:

 

  First 15 pitches    
Player IP ERA Ratio Career ERA Career Ratio
Lieber 305.2 4.74 1.32 4.26 1.27
Eaton 109.0 6.11 1.47 4.40 1.36

I'm not holding back on you, I genuinely have no idea what the Phillies will do.  Lieber's career numbers suggest that he might be a better bullpen pitcher, but they also suggest that he's been a better starter.  I don't think that the fact that the Phillies want to trade Lieber, and that he has more value as a starter than as a middle reliever, should be forgotten. 

I'm still waiting for momentum to build on the Hamels thing.

Hamels allowed four runs in 3 2/3 innings in minor league game.

Alex Gonzalez's passion for the game has been reignited. 

The Phillies fell to the Yankees last night, losing 2-0 to drop to 7-13 in spring training.

The Phillies got three hits, all singles.  Victorino was 2-for-4 and Burrell had the other knock.  Kei Igawa shut them down for five innings, allowing two singles and three walks.  He was followed by four Yankees relievers who combined to allow one hit.

Garcia was 0-for-1 with a strikeout.  Bourn 0-for-1.

The Phillies made three errors.  Howard, Victorino and Nunez.

Zack Segovia got the start for the Phils and was tremendous.  He allowed a run in five innings on five hits without walking a batter.  Madson followed Segovia and threw a 1-2-3 sixth.  He returned for the seventh and allowed a single and an RBI-double, but the run was unearned due to an error by Victorino.  Alfonseca set the Yankees down 1-2-3 in the eighth.

I don't think Segovia really has a chance for a bullpen spot, but it's being discussed.

The Phillies play the Blue Jays tonight.

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