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June 12 2007

Last night the Phillies led 3-0 when they put runners on first and third with one out in the bottom of the seventh.  Pitcher Adam Eaton, who had thrown 100 pitches in seven shutout innings, was due to hit and Manuel pulled him for a pinch-hitter.  Hitting for Eaton, Wes Helms grounded into an inning-ending double-play.

There are a lot of managers who would pull their starting pitcher for a pinch-hitter in the seventh with the chance to extend their three-run lead.  Even on a night when he's pitching particularly well.  For most of the year, though, Charlie Manuel hasn't been one of them.  On May 8, for example, Manuel let Eaton hit for himself in a 2-2 game with runners on first and third and two down in the seventh.  Two outs obviously isn't the same as one out and a tie game isn't the same as one you're winning by three runs, but I think last night's decision reflects a change in Manuel's approach nonetheless.  On April 9, as another example, Geoff Geary led off the eighth in a one-run game.

Fear of the bullpen can make one do nutty things.  And it has.  Over the early part of the season Manuel seemed reluctant to go to his pen.  Guys in the pen sat for long periods of time without sniffing a game.  The starters, especially the 23-year-old Colems Hamels and Eaton, coming off of a serious injury, went too long in their starts, perhaps to avoid calling on the bullpen.  As a needed act of desperation, the Phillies moved stud starter Brett Myers to the pen and Manuel was more than willing to go to him.  Perhaps too much.  The other members of the pen continued to sit with alarming regularity and Myers pitched and pitched.  On May 23 he got hurt. 

One thing I can absolutely guarantee is that the Phillies are not going to come out and say that the way they used Brett Myers out of the pen was a factor in his injury.  What I was interesting in watching, however, was whether the Phillies would start to manage their pitching staff differently after the Myers injury.  The why or whether it's a coincidence or not is hard to say, but what is clear is this -- Hamels and Eaton have thrown fewer pitches in their starts on average since the Myers injury than they did in their starts before it. 

Here's the number of pitches Hamels has thrown in his 13 starts, remembering that Myers was hurt on May 23:

 

Date # pitches
4/4 110
4/9 97
4/14 110
4/21 115
4/26 92
5/1 107
5/6 118
5/11 110
5/16 114
5/22 109
Myers injured
5/27 96
6/2 98
6/7 102

In his ten starts before May 23, Hamels threw 1,082 pitches in ten starts or about 108 pitches per start.  He threw 110 pitches or more in six of his ten outings.  He threw 118 pitches on May 6 against the Giants.  In mid-May he was among the league leaders in the NL in number of pitches thrown.

In his three starts since the injury to Myers, his high number of pitches is 102.  In his three starts he's thrown 296 pitches, or about 98.7 per game.

And here's the 13 starts for Eaton and the number of pitches he's thrown:

 

Date # pitches
4/5 103
4/11 108
4/18 92
4/23 102
4/28 86
5/3 112
5/8 103
5/15 99
5/20 109
Myers injured
5/26 99
6/1 60
6/6 91
6/11 100

In his nine starts before Myers was hurt, Eaton threw 914 pitches or about 101.6 per start with a high of 112 on May 3 against the Giants.  In his four starts since he's thrown 350 in four starts, about 87.5 pitches per start.  I think it's safe to say that Manuel would have liked him to go a little longer against the Giants on June 1 when Eaton got shelled and only got six outs.  If you eliminate that start he's still thrown just 290 pitches in three starts, or about 96.7 pitches per start. 

It's still just seven starts.  Eight after Hamels goes tonight.  There's not really a question about whether Eaton and Hamels are throwing fewer pitches in their outings since Myers was hurt.  They are.  Why they're throwing fewer pitches is much harder to know.  Not a lot of information and it could simply be a coincidence.  Let's hope it's not, though, because having Hamels up with the league leaders in numbers of pitches thrown near the end of the year would be a disaster.  Even if he didn't get hurt he would surely be far less effective by the time the end of the season comes around.

Charlie Manuel thinks, I suspect, that his bullpen is wretched.  I agree.  But he's got to let them pitch, all of them sometimes, because the consequences of not letting them pitch may be worse than the consequences of letting them pitch -- they may be worse than losing.


June 12 2007

 

Team W-L R R/G NL Rank R OPS (NL Rank) SB CS
CWS 27-32 232 3.93 NA 671 28 11
PHI 32-31 316 5.02 2 772 (1) 47 10

 

Team W-L RA RA/G NL Rank RA Starter ERA Pen ERA
CWS 27-32 283 4.80 NA 3.92 5.93
PHI 32-31 325 5.16 16 4.84 (14) 4.62 (12)

Two days after Jon Lieber gave the Phillies his best start of the year in Kansas City, Adam Eaton had his best outing of the season last night against the White Sox.  Eaton gave the Phils seven shutout innings, holding Chicago to four singles and three walks.  He made the defensive play of the game, a full dive in the top of the fifth to snag a popped up bunt for an out. 

The White Sox have been the worst offensive team in baseball this season.  Last night they started four players who were hitting under .225 and none who were hitting over .270. 

The Phillies beat the White Sox last night, winning 3-0 to improve to 33-31 on the year.  The Phils are 7-3 in their last ten. 

Eaton got the start for the Phillies and went seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits and three walks.  All four hits were singles and he struck out five.  Over his last two starts he's 2-0 and has allowed two runs on nine hits in 13 innings.  After Charlie Manuel threw him more than 100 pitches in seven of his first nine starts, Eaton has not gone over 100 pitches in any of his last four.  Manuel wisely gave him the hook last night at a particularly unusual time for the Phillies skipper.

Tad Iguchi singled with one out in the first, but AJ Pierzynski followed with a ground ball to second.  The Phils got Iguchi at second but just missed the double-play.  Paul Konerko walked to put men on first and second for Jermaine Dye, but Dye grounded to second to end the frame.

Eaton set the White Sox down 1-2-3 in the second, third and fourth. 

Juan Uribe and Luis Terrero started the fifth with back-to-back singles, putting men on first and second with nobody out and the Phils up 2-0.  Josh Fields was called out on strikes.  Pitcher Javier Vazquez bunted it back towards Eaton and Eaton made a great diving play for the second out.  Rob Mackowiack grounded to first to end the inning.

With one out in the sixth, Eaton walked Pierzinski and Konerko.  Dye struck out and Uribe flew to left to set Chicago down.

With one out in the seventh, Josh Fields bunted to third.  Dobbs charged and tried to barehand but couldn't field it cleanly.  Fields had a single.  Alex Cintron pinch-hit for Vazquez and hit a ground ball to second.  Utley tagged Fields and threw to first to end the frame.

Zagurski threw a 1-2-3 eighth.

Alfonseca started the ninth with a 3-0 lead.  He got Konerko to ground to second on a 3-2 pitch and Dye to ground to third on a 3-2 pitch before Uribe singled to right.  With would-be pinch-hitter Jim Thome in the on-deck circle as the tying run, Alfonseca struck out Terrero swinging at a high 2-2 pitch to end the game.

Manuel took Eaton out of the game after he had thrown 100 pitches in seven shutout innings.  He would have been heavily criticized if the pen had given away the lead.  They didn't, and it's nice to see Manuel more willing to use the guys he has out there.  The pen isn't going to get it done every time, but the Phillies just cannot win if Manuel won't use them.

The Phillies' lineup against righty Javier Vazquez went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Burrell (7) Dobbs (8) Barajas.  Barajas catches.  Dobbs at third against the righty.  Rowand stays in the five-hole with Burrell sixth.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the first.  In the second, Burrell homered to left with two outs to put the Phillies up 1-0.   Dobbs popped to short to end the inning.

After a 1-2-3 third that featured Eaton flying out to the base of the wall in left, Victorino and Utley went down to start the fourth before Howard hit a long home run to right to extend the lead to 2-0.  Rowand grounded to short to end the inning.

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

In the sixth, Rollins homered to right with one out.  3-0.  Victorino followed with a single and stole second with Utley at the plate.  Utley popped to short for the second out and the Sox walked Howard intentionally, bringing up Rowand with two outs and men on first and second.  He flew to right to end the inning.

Burrell started the seventh with a walk and Bourn ran for him.  With Dobbs at the plate, Bourn stole second.  It was his tenth steal of the year and he is yet to be caught.  Dobbs flew to center for the first out and Bourn went to third.  Victorino is probably the only other guy on the team that could have tagged and gone to third on that ball, maybe Rollins.  Barajas was walked intentionally, putting men on first and third with one down.  Helms pinch-hit for Eaton and hit a ground ball to third for an inning-ending double-play.

With two down in the eighth, Utley and Howard both singled to put runners on first and third for Rowand.  Rowand grounded to third to end the inning.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a home run, his 11th of the year. 

Victorino was 1-for-4 and struck out twice.  He stole his 18th base of the year.  He has been caught just twice and has arguably been among the best base-stealers in the league this season. 

Utley was 1-for-4 with a single.  He's 2-for-his-last-12 with two singles.

Howard was 2-for-3 with a walk and long home run, number 13 on the year. 

Rowand was 0-for-4 and left four men on base.

Burrell was 1-for-2 with a walk and a home run. 

Dobbs was 0-for-3.

Barajas 0-for-2 with yet another walk.

Cole Hamels (8-2, 3.57) faces righty Jose Contreras (4-6, 4.23) tonight.  Hamels got the win in his last start, Thursday in New York, but allowed three home runs and ten hits, both highs for the season.  He's allowed three or fewer earned runs in six of his last seven starts.  He's surrendered 14 home runs on the year, which ties him for the most in the league with Carlos Zambrano and Woody Williams.  Thirteen of the 14 have been hit by righties.  He's gotten fewer of his outs by strikeout over his last two starts, striking out just 10 in 16 innings.  Contreras has allowed three or fewer earned runs in ten of his last starts.  He allowed seven runs in 5 1/3 to the Twins on May 28, but excluding that start he's thrown to a 2.38 ERA in his last six starts.  He's allowed just four home runs in 72 1/3 innings on the year.  Righties are hitting .221 against him, lefties .282.  Rod Barajas is the Phil who has faced him most -- 2-for-6 with a home run.

The news about Freddy Garcia is very bad.  May be done for the season. 

The Phillies clearly need to get Myers back into the rotation when he is healthy despite their enormous problems in the bullpen. 

Kyle Kendrick will be called up to start Wednesday.  This article suggests it's Condrey that will lose his spot.  So the Phillies go through all that and the improvement they get in the pen is the difference between Mesa and Condrey (or whoever actually goes down)?  Condrey (or Hernandez, or whoever) could easily pitch better than Mesa the rest of the way.  The only way it makes sense is if Manuel is willing to use Mesa in situations where he wasn't willing to use the other guy -- we know he wasn't going to use Condrey or Hernandez in a big situation unless he had no other options, and the Phils just can't play with a two-man pen.

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