May 23 2007

Cole Hamels has thrown a ton of pitches this season.  Too many.  But is that because he's striking so many out, or cause Manuel, terrified of his bullpen, leaves him in too long?  The answer is, no doubt, a little of both with the emphasis on it's Manuel's fault and some I don't know sprinkled in.  That in mind, wayward ho.

Over the last seven seasons, the player who has lead the NL in strikeouts has been in the top five in number of pitches thrown six times.

Here is the list of the top five in the NL in strikeouts this season:


Hamels 10 78 68.2 3.82 10.22 71 52 5
Peavy 10 77 66.1 4.05 10.45 63 55 4
Wolf 10 66 60.0 3.94 9.90 54 59 3
Webb 10 59 70.0 3.47 7.59 116 32 8
Harang 10 56 64.0 3.97 7.88 63 69 2

First things first.  Randy Wolf?  Yep.  Third in the NL with 66 strikeouts.

Those guys conveniently all have ten starts, so it's easy to see that Hamels is averaging more innings per start than any of them with the exception of Brandon Webb.  The difference, of course, is that not all of those guys are 23-years-old and only one currently plays for the best team in baseball not to make the playoffs since 1993.  Wolf is 30, Harang 29, Webb 28 and Peavy turns 26 next Thursday.

Of that group, most of them throw a lot of pitches to get their outs.  Among the 62 NL pitchers that have thrown 40 innings this season, four of the five, everyone except Webb, are in the top 20 in the NL in pitches thrown per plate appearance.  It would seem to make sense intuitively that pitcher who strike a lot of people out need to make more pitches.

Of the 62 NL pitchers who have thrown 40 or more innings this season, here's who has thrown the fewest number of pitches per plate appearance:

Maddux 9 35 54.1 3.22 5.80 76 51 2
Sampson 8 25 49.0 3.26 4.59 62 57 6
Mitre 7 23 40.0 3.39 5.18 67 30 5
Hudson 10 43 70.2 3.40 5.48 117 50 8
Maholm 9 28 51.0 3.43 4.94 77 45 9

Those guys just don't strike as many folks out. 

That would all be fabulous except it's obviously far more complicated than that.  If the list of the NL pitchers with 40 innings this season who have thrown the fewest pitches per plate appearance went six deep instead of five deep, the sixth name on the list would be Brandon Webb with his 3.47 pitches per plate appearance and his 59 strikeouts in 70 innings.  The ground ball loving Webb certainly induces more double-plays than the other guy among the strikeout leaders, but that would seemingly be more likely to effect the number of pitches he throws in an inning than the number of pitches he throws per plate appearance. 

It makes sense that not walking anyone is important if you want to keep your pitches per plate appearance low.   And the five guys listed above throwing the fewest pitches per plate appearance seem to support that.  Of the 62 NL pitchers who have thrown 40 innings, Maddux has walked seven, which is the lowest number of the group.  Mitre has walked eight, second fewest.  All five are in the bottom third of the group of 62 -- Hudson has walked the most and he has allowed just 15 walks in his 70 2/3 innings.

Then again, just when you think you've got something, along comes Webb.  His 27 walks on the year are the most of the pitchers in the top five in the NL in strikeouts.

So, to reiterate, I don't know.

I do know that Hamels is second in all of baseball in the number of pitches he's thrown this season.  And fourth in the NL in innings with 68 2/3.  The Phillies have had an ugly situation in their pen early this season.  Even if you think it's nuts to let Hamels throw so many pitches and innings, it's not hard to understand why Manuel and the Phillies have.  They have to stop, though.  Too many innings for a guy who is too young and needs too many pitches to get his outs.

May 23 2007


Team W-L R R/G NL Rank R OPS (NL Rank) SB CS
FLA 21-23 217 4.93 T-4 777 (3) 26 7
PHI 22-22 220 5.00 2 776 (4) 37 7


Team W-L RA RA/G NL Rank RA Starter ERA Pen ERA
FLA 21-23 227 5.16 15 4.61 (13) 4.14 (12)
PHI 22-22 212 4.82 12 4.55 (12) 4.57 (15)

The Phillies tried to get over .500 for the season for the third time in five games last night.  0-for-3.  They are 5-0 in their last five games where they weren't trying to get over .500.  8-1 in their last nine games where they weren't trying to get over .500.  Paging Dr Anyone for psych consult, please.

Cole Hamels pitched well early but got hit hard in the sixth inning.  On a night when the bats were mostly silent it was too much for the Phils.

Offensively, the good news and the bad news were the same thing for the Phillies.  In his first two at-bats last night Jayson Werth socked two home runs.  It gave him as many home runs as everyday right fielder Shane Victorino and last night's starters at first and third, Nunez and Helms, have combined to hit for the season.

Other than the blasts from Werth, which drove in the three Phillies runs, the offense was a double by Hamels and two singles.

The Phils made two errors.  After the game Rowand took the blame for a loss saying he misplayed a sixth-inning shot into center by Cabrera on a play Rowand wasn't charged with an error.

The Phillies lost to the Florida Marlins last night, losing 5-3 to drop to 22-23 on the season.

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phils and went six innings, allowing five runs on six hits and three walks.  Five of the six hits he allowed, four doubles and a triple, went for extra-bases.  Four of those extra-base hits came in a four-run bottom of the sixth for the Fish.  He struck out eight. 

After throwing 109 pitches last night, Hamels is now second in all of baseball in pitches thrown for the season.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

With two outs in the first, Hamels walked Hanley Ramirez.  Miguel Cabrera moved Ramirez to second with a single to left, but Hamels struck out Josh Willingham to end the inning.

Jeremy Hermida led off the second with a hard hit ground ball to first.  Helms was playing deep and he ball bounced off his wrist.  Error on Helms with Hermida at first.  Hamels struck out Miguel Olivo for the first out of the inning.  Aaron Boone was next and drew a walk, moving Hermida to second.  Scott Olsen bunted the runners up to second and third.  It brought up Reggie Abercrombie, who flew to left to end the inning.

Dan Uggla led off the third with a double and moved to third on a ground out when Ramirez hit a ground ball back up the middle that Rollins made a nice sliding play on to get Ramirez at first.  With one out and Uggla to first, Cabrera smashed a ball back up the middle, but Utley handled it on one hop and threw Cabrera out as Uggla scored to cut the Phillies' lead to 3-1.  Hamels struck out Willingham to end the inning.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 fourth and a 1-2-3 fifth.

Ramirez led off the sixth with a double and scored when Cabrera followed with a triple to center.  Utley's throw to third was bad and Nunez couldn't handle it.  Cabrera scored on Utley's error to tie the game at 3-3.  Rowand misplayed Cabrera's ball, so it wasn't a stellar defensive effort from the Phils all around.  Willingham was next and he doubled to center.  Hamels then struck out Hermida and Olivo before walking Aaron Boone intentionally to get to the pitcher's spot in the lineup.  Jason Wood pinch-hit for Olsen and he split Burrell and Rowand with a double to Rowand's side of left-center.  Two runs scored to put the Marlins ahead at 5-3.  Hamels got Reggie Abercrombie on a ground ball to first to end the inning.

Ryan Madson, just activated from the DL yesterday in the spot vacated when Fabio Castro was sent to Double-A, started the seventh with he Phils down 5-3.  In his first action with the team since May 3, Madson set the Marlins down 1-2-3.

He returned to throw the eighth, getting two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 frame. 

Two perfect innings from Madson in his return.  The Phillies really, really need him.  Despite the loss you have to feel a little better about the Phils' pen today than you did on Monday.

The Phillies' lineup against lefty Phillie-hater Scott Olsen went (1) Rowand (2) Werth (3) Rollins (4) Utley (5) Burrell (6) Helms (7) Nunez (8) Ruiz.  Werth starts in right against the lefty one would hope.  He came into the game with five at-bats since May 7.  Nunez at third, Helms at first.  More Ruiz behind the plate. 

Werth homered to right with one out to put the Phils up 1-0.  Rollins and Utley went down behind him.

Nunez walked with two outs in the second, but Ruiz followed and popped to first for the third out. 

Hamels led off the third with a well-hit double.  Rowand was next and popped a little bloop to short that was caught for the first out, but Werth was next and he hit one out to left to put the Phillies up 3-0.  Rollins and Utley went down to end the frame.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the fourth.

In the fifth, Rowand singled with two down but was left stranded when Werth fouled out to the catcher.

With one out in the sixth, Utley called timeout on a 3-1 pitch and Olsen came home with it anyway.  Everyone was annoyed and when Utley walked Olsen waved him to first and Utley gave him a stare on his way to first as the two chatted briefly.  Burrell grounded out on a dribbler in front of the plate and Utley went to second.  Olsen got behind Helms 2-0 and for whatever reason walked him intentionally to pitch to Nunez.  Don't think I would have gone that way, but Nunez struck out to end the frame.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the seventh.

Utley singled with two outs in the eighth and the Phils down 5-3, bringing up Burrell as the tying run.  Burrell popped to second for the third out. 

Victorino led off the ninth, pinch-hitting for Helms against the righty Kevin Gregg.  Dunno who was going to hit for Madson in the nine-hole as the tying run if it came to that.  Dobbs, Bourn or Barajas, but probably Dobbs.  It didn't.   Victorino flew to left, Nunez struck out and Ruiz flew to center to end the game.

Five hits for the Phils.  Two singles, a double for Hamels and two home runs by Werth.

Rowand was 1-for-4 with a single.

Werth was 2-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI.

Rollins was 0-for-4 to drop his average to .268.  3-for-his-last-23. 

Utley 1-for-3 with a walk.

Burrell was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. 

Helms was 0-for-2 with a walk. 

Nunez 0-for-3 with a walk.

Ruiz was 0-for-4.  1-for-his-last-15.

Freddy Garcia (1-3, 4.86) faces righty Byung-Hyun Kim (2-2, 7.15) tonight.  Garcia wants to go deeper in the game and it sure sounds good to me.  He's gone less than six innings in five of his seven starts this year and has yet to get an out in the seventh inning.  Opponents are hitting .311 against him.  He's struck out 31 in 37 innings (7.54 per nine), which is a higher rate of strikeouts for him than in any year since 2004.  I think that's a good sign.  The Marlins got Kim from the Rockies earlier this month in a trade that sent Jorge Julio to Colorado.  Kim has made one start with the Marlins and got the win.  He went 5 1/3 innings against the Devil Rays on Friday, holding them to two earned runs on six hits and three walks.  On the season he's allowed four home runs in 11 1/3 innings.  Lefties are hitting .476 with three home runs against him, righties .091 with a 0.55 ratio.  His overall ratio is 1.68, but a 3.75 against lefties will do that to ya.

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