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April 4 2007

Monday's opener didn't go very far towards calming anybody's nerves about the bullpen.  In 2 1/3 innings the pen allowed two earned runs and took the loss.  As a group, the pen is obviously not going to go 0-162 with a 7.73 ERA.  I did wonder how many losses the bullpen might be saddled with this season. 

In 2006, Phillies starting pitchers went 60-50 with a 5.08 ERA while the team's relievers went 25-27 with a 3.79 ERA.  The 5.08 ERA for the starters was third-worst in the NL, better than only the Cubs and the Nationals.  The 3.79 ERA for the pen was third-best in the NL, but the Phillies were tied with three other teams as having the third-most losses charged to their pen.  Opponents also posted a .756 OPS against Phils' relievers, which was just eighth-best in the NL.  That can partly be blamed on Citizens Bank Park.

Here's a look at the number of wins that have been credited to Phillies' starters and relievers over the past five season and the percentages of the team's wins and losses that the relievers have been responsible for:

 

Year Starters Relievers Total % wins Relievers % losses Relievers
2006 60-50 25-27 85-77 29.4 35.1
2005 63-55 25-19 88-74 28.4 25.7
2004 54-47 32-29 86-76 37.2 38.2
2003 63-56 23-20 86-76 26.7 26.3
2002 50-53 30-28 80-81 37.5 34.6
           
Total 290-261 135-123 425-384 31.8 32.0

It's not common to have an NL team whose relievers are saddled with more than 30 losses in a season.  Over the past five years it has happened only twice.  The wretched 2004 Colorado Rockies pen lost 39 games while pitching to a miserable 5.53 ERA.  Both the 39 losses and 5.53 mark are the worst for an NL team in the last five years.  The '04 Rocks featured closer Shawn Chacon who saved 35 games and threw to a 7.11 ERA.  Really he did.  The 2002 Padres are the other NL team from the last five years to have their bullpen tally more than 30 losses -- their relievers lost 35 games but threw to just a 4.24 ERA, which is worse than it sounds given their yard.

Back to the question at hand, how many games will the Phillies' relievers lose this season, the answer is clearly I don't know.

If they lose the average number of games they've lost over the past five season they'll lose 25.

If they match their highest loss total from the past five seasons they'll lose 29.

If they lose more than any other team in the National League they'll probably lose somewhere in the 30-35 range.

If the team goes 88-74 and the pen is responsible for the highest percentage of the losses that it has been in the past five years (38.2% in 2004) they'll lose 28.

If the team goes 81-81 and the pen is responsible for the highest percentage of the losses that it has been in the past five years they'll lose 31.

They'll definitely lose at least one.

The 2007 starts log is ready for action.

Madson's slider is still a work in progress.  You may have noticed.

Finally, if you had forgotten even for a moment that the world is a funny place, Michael Bourn apparently is looking for success this season in part so that his name will appear higher on the team roster in the "Major League Baseball 2K7" video game.

Cole Hamels and Tim Hudson tonight. 

In two starts against the Braves last season, Hamels went 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA.  In 11 1/3 innings he allowed 12 hits, including three home runs.  He struck out 18.  Former Brave Adam LaRoche was 2-for-3 against him with two home runs and four RBI.

Hudson was 2-1 with a 4.74 ERA in four starts against the Phils in '06.  Ryan Howard was 5-for-10 with a double and three home runs against him.

Rain, rain, go away.

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