Archive for March, 2009

And not just that, but the hide-your-eyes per nine innings for Kendrick continues to skyrocket

Yesterday I mentioned that Chan Ho Park lowered his walk rate last year compared to his career numbers while pitching mostly in relief for LA. That’s a good sign, because overall relief pitchers tend to walk more hitters than starting pitcher.

Here’s how many walks per nine innings NL starters and relievers have issued over the past five seasons, along with the numbers for the Phillies:

bbper9.jpg

As you can see, the blue lines for the NL walk rates are pretty stable, with the relievers consistently walking more hitters than the starters. The lines for the Phillies flail about a little more. Phillies starters actually walked batters at a higher rate than their relievers in 2004 — that season the Phils relievers were outstanding at preventing walks, they had the third best rate in the NL, while the starting pitchers were closer to the league average.

Finally, the tremendous success of the 2008 bullpen wasn’t built on preventing walks. The ’08 pen actually walked batters at a rate slightly higher than the league average. They did manage to reduce the walk rate significantly from 2007, however.

Kyle Kendrick. Kyle Kendrick did not have a good day yesterday. He got bombed for the second straight outing as the Phils lost to the Braves 12-10. The Phillies are 4-7 in spring training.

Coming off a weak start on Friday where he was charged with four runs in 2 2/3 innings, Kendrick went three innings yesterday and allowed eight runs on ten hits and a walk. Over his last two starts he’s allowed 12 earned runs on 15 hits and a walk in 5 2/3 innings. That’s a 19.06 ERA and a 2.82 ratio.

Yesterday Clint Sammons hit two home runs off of him, a two-run homer in the second and a solo shot in the fourth. Kendrick started the fourth down 4-1 and failed to retire any of the four batters he faced in the inning before being pulled.

Kendrick is likely to get three more starts in spring training. But if he ever was in the driver seat for the fifth starter job he’s knocked himself way, way out of it and into a deep hole. To have a chance now he’s going to have to pitch a whole lot better than he has been and he’s also going to need Happ and Park, especially Park, to pitch worse.

Assuming that doesn’t happen, with Eyre as the sole lefty in the pen, unless the Phillies add another left-handed reliever before the start of the season I think Happ goes to the pen. That would make Park the fifth starter and open another (Park’s) spot in the bullpen. Gary Majewski, Dave Borkowski and Mike Koplove look to me to be the prime contenders for the extra spot in the pen if one opened. All three pitchers in the group have pitched well, but Koplove is the favorite in my eyes if one them makes the team. Majewski and Borkowski both pitched yesterday. Majewski was charged with two runs on three hits in an inning (only one of the runs was earned) to put his ERA at 1.29. Borkowski allowed a hit in a scoreless eighth to keep his official spring ERA at 0.00 — he’s allowed two hits in 3 2/3 innings this spring without walking a batter. He also threw a perfect inning against Team Canada last Wednesday, which doesn’t count towards his official stats.

Koplove, meanwhile, did not pitch yesterday but has tossed three innings without allowing a run or a hit. He has walked one.

Offensively, Mayberry homered again for the Phillies. He hit a solo shot in the fourth off of Jo-Jo Reyes and finished the day 2-for-3. Donald had another fantastic day as well, going 3-for-4 to raise his spring average to .379. Giles 0-for-2 with a walk. Cairo was 1-for-2 with a solo homer in the ninth.

Team USA lost to Venezuela yesterday, 5-3. Rollins was 0-for-4 with a walk and Victorino 1-for-2. It’s on to round two for the US team. They will play Puerto Rico on Saturday. Venezuela plays the Netherlands, also on Saturday.

Mexico beat Australia 16-1. Harman went 0-for-2. Drew Naylor got one out and was charged with three runs on two hits and a walk. Rodrigo Lopez pitched for Mexico in relief. He threw a perfect 1 1/3 innings, striking out two. Australia was eliminated with the loss. Harman went 3-for-9 with three singles and a walk in their three games. Naylor’s only action came against Mexico. Mexico plays Cuba today to determine the winner of Pool B, but both teams will advance to the second round and play either Japan (today’s winner) or Korea (today’s loser).

Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands 5-0 to win Pool D. Romero did not pitch.

Manuel talks about the possibility of keeping a veteran like Stairs or Cairo and letting Donald and Mayberry start the year in the minors in this article.

Feliz, Lidge and Durbin all played in an intrasquad game yesterday. The linked article also says that Manuel thinks Utley will play in a game next week.

The Phillies play Tampa Bay this afternoon. Happ is expected to pitch.


Winners walk

Chan Ho Park has walked a lot of hitters over his career — that’s been true of the years when he’s been successful as well as they years when he hasn’t.

Arguably, the best years of his career have been 1997, 2000 and 2001. In those three years combined, Park went 47-29 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.21 ratio in 652 innings. Opponents hit a meager 214/308/352 against him.

Notably, however, even when Park was at his best he was still walking a lot of guys. During those three seasons he walked 285 in 652 innings, which is 3.93 hitters per nine innings. That walk rate is higher than the walk rate of many of the other starting pitchers in the organization. Again, the chart below compares Park’s walk rate during three of his best years to the walk rate for other pitchers in the organization over their entire careers:

parkwalks1.jpg

Park did get his walks per nine innings down to 3.40 working mostly as a reliever in 2008, but he’s almost sure to keep walking hitters this year. And while it may seem like it’s good news that Park can be successful when he walks hitters at a high rate, the bad news may be that while that is true he would need to hold hitters to a very low batting average to do so. It doesn’t need to be .214, but .280 is going to be a problem. Opponents hit .264 against Park in 2008, which was the lowest mark for him since 2001. Since 2001, opponents have hit .279 against him.

This suggests that Happ and Park are now the co-favorites to win the fifth starter job.

Brad Lidge will pitch an inning in an intrasquad game today.

The Phils did not play yesterday. They will play the Braves this afternoon. Kyle Kendrick is scheduled to pitch in what will be an important outing for him coming off a weak showing against Team USA.

Team USA, featuring Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, plays Venezuela today in the World Baseball Classic. Mexico faces Australia (Harman et all) and Puerto Rico (Romero) and the Netherlands square off.


Wake me up when we hit 2001 again

In Sunday night’s post I pointed out that Chan Ho Park’s career numbers look very good compared to the career numbers for other pitchers likely to get starts for the Phillies in 2008. Looking at the group of Hamels, Moyer, Myers, Blanton, Kendrick, Lopez and Happ, the .248 that opposing hitters have hit against Park is second-best behind only Hamels (.233). The .402 that opposing hitters have slugged against him is also better than anyone else in the group except for Hamels — opponents have slugged .401 against Hamels so far.

Park has walked too many hitters over his career, about 4.18 per nine innings. Of the group of eight pitchers, the .340 that opposing batters has on-based against Park is worse than anyone but Kendrick (opponents have on-based .352 against Kendrick). Of the eight pitchers discussed on Sunday, Park also has the biggest difference between batting average and on-base percentage he has allowed.

Still, even with the high on-base percentage, the low average and low slugging percentage make Park’s career numbers impressive overall. The problem for Park is that he’s pretty old, and with the exception of an encouraging year in relief for the Dodgers in 2008, he’s been hit hard for a while now.

Park was very good in 2000, going 18-10 with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.31 ratio for the Dodgers. He followed it up with a 2001 in which he went 15-11 with a 3.50 ERA and dropped his ratio down to 1.17 for Los Angeles. Park had also been very good in 1997, pitching to a 3.87 ERA with a 1.14 ratio for the Dodgers. Since 2001, though, his numbers have just been ugly.

From between 1994-2001, Park threw to a 3.80 ERA with a 1.32 ratio in 1183 2/3 innings. From 2002 through 2008, he’s put up a 5.31 ERA and a 1.54 ratio in 662 1/3 innings.

He’s actually walked batters at a lower rate since 2001. But the hits he’s allowed are way up and his strikeouts are way down:

chphbbso.jpg

And here’s what opposing hitters have done against him:

chpaoslg.jpg

Since 2001, opposing hitters have hit 279/364/454 against Park. That’s an OPS of .819, which is close to the .821 opponents have hit against Kendrick over his career. Kendrick’s .821 was the worst mark of the group of eight from Sunday’s post.

Yesterday the Phils fell to the Reds, losing 8-4 to drop to 4-6 in spring training.

Hamels got the start for the Phils and allowed a pair of runs over 2 2/3 innings. Justin Lehr was charged with four runs in the seventh. Robert Mosebach struck out two in a perfect eighth.

Jenkins and Howard hit solo homers. Jason Donald is doing his best to steal John Mayberry’s impossible-to-ignore status. Donald went 3-for-4 with three singles, pushing his spring average to .320.

Panama and Carlos Ruiz have been eliminated from the World Baseball Classic, outscored 16-0 in two games by Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. Ruiz went 2-for-5 with a walk in the tournament.

Team USA, 2-0, will play Italy or Venezuela on Wednesday. Rollins 3-for-5 in the first two games, Victorino 2-for-5.

Australia plays Cuba tonight. Brad Harman went 3-for-5 in as they beat Mexico 17-7 in game one.

JC Romero got the win for Puerto Rico yesterday as they beat the Netherlands 3-1. Romero allowed a hit in 1 1/3 innings. Puerto Rico is 2-0 and will play the Netherlands or Dominican Republic tomorrow night.

Canada has been eliminated with a 6-2 loss to Italy. Stairs went 0-for-6 with a walk and two strikeouts in two games.

The Phillies have reassigned seven players to minor league camp, most notably Jeremy Slayden.

The article linked above also says that Durbin and Feliz could both see action again very soon, perhaps tomorrow. Coste played yesterday and went 0-for-1.

This has Amaro saying that if things go well over the next few days, Utley could get into some games.

The Phillies don’t play today. Tomorrow they face the Braves with Kyle Kendrick scheduled to pitch.


And hopefully eight is enough

With the signing of Rodrigo Lopez to a minor league deal, at this point it’s looking like virtually all of the starts the Phillies make this season will be made by a group of nine pitchers that includes Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick, Chan Ho Park, JA Happ, Rodrigo Lopez and Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco has yet to appear in a major league game, so his stats are not included here.

In comparing the other eight pitchers, it’s important to remember that they have not all played in the same leagues through the years. Several of them have spent their whole career in the National League, while others have been mostly in the American League, which is like baseball but instead of the pitcher batting for himself they wake up David Ortiz and ask him to hit the ball to next Thursday:

alnl425.jpg

Hamels, Myers, Kendrick and Happ have been in the NL for their whole careers. Moyer, Blanton and Lopez have pitched primarily in the AL and Park has seen more time in the NL than the AL.

Here are the career ERAs and ratios for the group:

eraratio425.jpg

And here is what opposing hitters have done against the eight at the plate:

aos425.jpg

For me, the most surprising thing from the chart above is how impressive Chan Ho Park’s career numbers are relative to the rest of the group, especially the batting average and slugging percentage. By OPS that opposing hitters have put up against the group over their careers, Hamels has the best mark at .685, Blanton is next at .732 and Park is third with .742 (the rest of the list goes Moyer (.744), Happ (.748), Myers (.767), Lopez (.783) and Kendrick (.821)).

The Phillies have played three spring training games since the last post, going 1-2 to put their spring record at 4-5.

Today they lost to Atlanta, 7-2.

Blanton got the start and held the Braves to a run over four innings, but Carrasco followed and was hit hard again. Carrasco was charged with five runs on six hits over two innings. Happ and Park seem to be flying high in the battle for fifth starter these days, with Kendrick scuffling. If you thought Carrasco had a chance to be the guy when spring training started it’s hard to see that happening the way things have been going recently. Still a long way to go — unless the Phils acquire another left-handed reliever before the start of the season I still think it’s likely Happ starts the year in the pen.

Mayberry had a rough day today, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Donald was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and an RBI. He has his spring average up to .238. Giles continues to see a lot of time. Today he played third and went 2-for-4 with an error. Paulino was 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI.

Yesterday the Phils beat the Tigers 8-2.

A huge day for Happ and another home run from Mayberry were the story of the game. Moyer got the start and allowed a run in four innings, but after that Happ came on and stuck out seven in three scoreless frames. Happ allowed just two hits and didn’t walk a batter. Koplove also threw another perfect inning, keeping his spring ERA at 0.00.

Offensively, Mayberry hit a three-run homer off of Edwin Jackson in the first to put the Phils up early. Howard hit a three-run homer of his own in the fifth. Donald 1-for-3. Giles 0-for-1 and made an appearance in left field — he has never played in the outfield in a major league game.

On Friday the Phils lost to the Blue Jays, falling 4-3.

Park made the start for the Phils and allowed a run on two singles and a double over four innings. He struck out four and didn’t walk a batter. Gary Majewski threw another two perfect innings, striking out two.

Jenkins was 1-for-3 with a double and drove in all three Phillies runs. Ozuna 2-for-4 with a stolen base. Dobbs 2-for-4. Paulino 0-for-3 and struck out twice. Giles played third again and went 0-for-2 with a walk and a hit by pitch.

Earlier in the day Brett Myers was hit hard in a B-game, allowing five runs on six hits, including two home runs, and two walks over three innings.

The Phillies play the Reds tomorrow with Cole Hamels expected to pitch.

Ruiz left Panama’s game with Puerto Rico with a neck injury on Saturday, but is okay.


The sophomore stay-about-the-same-as-you-were-while-the-other-stuff-around-you-changes

The Phillies bullpen was hugely improved in 2008 compared to 2007. There was some overlap of guys who pitched in both seasons. Four pitchers threw at least 25 innings in relief in each of the two seasons, Romero, Condrey, Madson and Gordon. Here’s what they did in 2007:

  IP H BB SO ER ERA RATIO
Romero 36.3 15 25 31 5 1.24 1.10
Gordon 40 40 13 32 21 4.73 1.33
Madson 56 48 23 43 19 3.05 1.27
Condrey 50 61 16 27 28 5.04 1.54
Total 182.3 164 77 133 73 3.60 1.32

They contributed more innings, but as a group they were about the same in 2008:


2008
  IP H BB SO ER ERA RATIO
Romero 59 41 38 52 18 2.75 1.34
Gordon 29.7 31 17 26 17 5.16 1.62
Madson 82.7 79 23 67 28 3.05 1.23
Condrey 69 85 19 34 25 3.26 1.51
Total 240.3 236 97 179 88 3.30 1.39

Romero didn’t reproduce his silly numbers from ’07, but may have helped the team more by pitching more. Gordon was worse and pitched less. Condrey was better and pitched more and Madson was just about the same but pitched a lot more.

For both 2007 and 2008, here’s what the guys in the Phillies pen that weren’t Romero, Condrey, Madson or Gordon combined to do for each year:


PHI pen without Romero, Madson, Condrey and Gordon
  IP H BB SO ER ERA Ratio
2007 337.7 366 172 253 187 4.98 1.59
2008 242.7 220 114 232 85 3.15 1.38

So while the group of four didn’t combine to be hugely better in 2008, the rest of the Phillies relievers were far better than the other guys on the ’07 team.

Of those 242 2/3 innings the Phillies got in relief from pitchers other than Condrey, Madson, Gordon and Romero in 2008, a large percentage (64.7%) came from Lidge and Durbin:

  IP H BB SO ER ERA Ratio
Durbin 87.7 81 35 63 28 2.87 1.32
Lidge 69.3 50 35 92 15 1.95 1.23
Others 85.7 89 44 77 42 4.41 1.55
Total 242.7 220 114 232 85 3.15 1.38

Notably, those guys in the “others” category, the relievers from 2008 who weren’t Condrey, Madson, Gordon, Romero, Lidge or Durbin, combined to throw to a 4.41 ERA with a 1.55 ratio. Those numbers are pretty similar to what the Phillies pen overall pitched to in 2007. In 2007, Phillies relievers as a group threw to a 4.50 ERA with a 1.50 ratio.

Yesterday the Phils played Team USA and lost 9-6.

Kendrick got the start and put up zeroes in the first two frames but couldn’t make it out of the third. Chipper Jones connected for a three-run homer and Team USA scored four runs in the inning, all charged to Kendrick. Antonio Bastardo followed and he was charged with five runs in 2 1/3 innings, yielding three home runs. Condrey went two scoreless innings after that, holding Team USA to a single single. Madson walked two in a scoreless eighth.

Howard gave the Phils a three-run homer and Jason Donald went 1-for-3 with a home run of his own, a solo shot in the sixth off of Matt Thornton. Mayberry 1-for-5 with a single. Ozuna 0-for-3 after an 0-for-2 against Canada the day before. Marcus Giles played third base and went 1-for-2 with a walk.

The Phils made three errors in the game, two by Howard and one by Kendrick.

Kendrick’s reactions to events in the game were unimpressive to some people, notably Rich Dubee.

Rollins went 1-for-2 for Team USA. Victorino 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base.

The Phillies play the Blue Jays tonight and a B-game this afternoon.

Jimmy Rollins says his health problem was with his rib and not his back. The linked article also says that Feliz took live batting practice yesterday and the Phillies signed Rodrigo Lopez to a minor league contract.

Adam Eaton thinks he needs to prove himself as an elite pitcher in the league. I’m holding out hope he proves himself to be a selkie, just because if he was pitching in seal form the 6.06 ERA in 49 starts as a Phillie would be a lot easier to understand. Trying to get major league hitters out with flippers couldn’t be easy for anyone.


Extra! Extra! Bases!

Yesterday I wrote that in 2008, Chad Durbin allowed extra-base hits at a rate far lower than many of the other pitchers on the team. He also allowed extra-base hits at a rate far lower than he has over his career.

  PA % H % BB % SO % XBH
Durbin ’08 365 22.2 9.6 17.3 4.7
Durbin rest
of career
2,099 25.5 9.2 12.6 8.9

Durbin had the best year of his career in ’08. He didn’t do it by cutting down his walks — he walked batters more regularly than he has over the rest of his career. He did allow fewer hits and strike out batters more regularly, but the most dramatic change in the four categories is the improvement in preventing extra-base hits in ’08.

Coming into 2008, Durbin had allowed 187 extra-base hits in 2,099 plate appearances — that’s one every 11.22 plate appearances. In 2008 he allowed 17 extra-base hits in 365 plate appearances, which is one every 21.47 plate appearances.

In his work as a reliever before 2008, Durbin had also allowed extra-base hits at a rate that was higher than what he did last year and that was very similar to his career numbers overall coming into ’08. Prior to last season, he had faced 299 hitters as a relief pitcher and allowed 26 extra-base hits, or one every 11.50 plate appearances.

The Phillies would have had a lot of trouble winning the division last year without Durbin’s contribution. And they’re counting on him to come up big again this season. I think there’s two things to worry about, though. One is that Durbin’s 2008 was just by far his best year and even including 2008 he still has a career 5.29 ERA and a 1.53 ratio. The other is that Durbin had two dramatically different halves in ’08, a great first half in which he threw to a 1.89 ERA and a 1.20 ratio and a weaker second half in which he threw to a 4.33 ERA with a 1.50 ratio.

If you think the secret to Durbin’s success in the future could be preventing extra-base hits, it surely couldn’t hurt. There’s a lot more too it than that, though, as Durbin himself helped demonstrate with his second half last season. In the second half of 2008, when he was less effective, he still wasn’t being hurt by the extra-base hit. He gave up hits and walks at a higher rate than in the first half, and struck a lot fewer people out, but the rate at which he gave up extra-base hits stayed about the same:

  PA % H % BB % SO % XBH
1st half ’08 214 20.6 8.9 20.1 4.7
2nd half ’08 151 24.5 10.6 13.2 4.6

Opponents hit .282 against Durbin the second half (.234 in the first half) and on-based .367 (.310). So while the fact that they slugged just .382 (.314) against him in the second half helped avoid a complete disaster, it wasn’t enough to make his numbers after the break nearly as impressive as they had been before the break.

The Phils beat Team Canada yesterday, winning 9-2.

Hamels made his spring debut and went two scoreless innings, allowing two singles and a walk. Dave Borkowski threw a perfect inning, continuing his impressive performance in the early going. Andrew Carpenter allowed two runs on three hits and four walks over two innings. Eyre struck out two in a scoreless frame.

Offensively, Mayberry continued his tear, going 2-for-3 with a two-run homer. Jeremy Slayden, who has also been outstanding, hit a three-run homer in his only at-bat. Ibanez was 1-for-3 with a double and three RBI. Paulino 1-for-3. Donald 0-for-3. Stairs went 1-for-3 with a single for Team Canada.

The Phils play Team USA today. Kyle Kendrick is expected to pitch.

The Zo Zone has updates (a day old) on the medical conditions of Utley, Feliz, Werth, Coste and Durbin.

Ad: TicketCity has Phillies tickets for spring training and regular season games.


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