Cole Hamels was brilliant last night, but overall the Phillies pitched far better in 2008 than they have so far in 2009. Aside from watching the Phils play baseball, this can be demonstrated in a number of ways. In 2008 they allowed 680 runs over 162 games, about 4.2 runs per game. In 2009 the Phils had allowed 254 runs through their first 51 games, about 4.98 runs per game. Coming into last night’s game their team ERA of 4.88 was 15th-best of the 16 NL teams in ’09. In 2008 they posted a 3.88 ERA as a squad, which was fourth-best in the league.

So what’s the problem? Well, as you know, the starting pitching has been the problem. What hasn’t been the problem when you look at the pitching staff’s numbers overall is what they’ve done against left-handed hitters. The Phillies have actually been better against lefties in ’09 than they were in 2008 (nothing in this post includes the results from games played yesterday):

Left-handed batters vs PHI pitching

2008 2572 270 346 425
2009 849 249 335 399

In all three of the categories they are better in ’09 than they were in ’08. Given that lefties haven’t been the problem you can probably guess what has:

Right-handed batters vs PHI pitching

2008 3655 252 317 399
2009 849 281 345 507

The .852 OPS that right-handed hitters have hit against Phillies’ pitching is the worst mark for any team in either league. The .507 slugging percentage is 30th of 30, the .345 on-base percentage 24th and the .281 average 28th.

So they aren’t doing well against righties.

At least compared to last season, the problems against righties aren’t about strikeouts or walks. They are striking right-handed hitters out at about the same rate. The walk rate is up, but just a little bit. The hits are up and the extra-base hits are up even more. Here’s the percentage of plate appearances by right-handed batters that have ended with a hit, walk, strikeout, single, extra-base hit or home run in ’08 and ’09:

Right-handed batters vs PHI pitching
Year % H % BB % SO % 1B % XBH % HR
2008 22.7 7.8 17.6 14.9 7.9 2.5
2009 25.0 7.9 17.6 15.1 9.9 4.8

The Phillies are giving up more hits to right-handed hitters, but the bigger problem has been how many more hits have been going for extra-bases.

In 2008, the Phillies faced 3,655 right-handed batters and gave up 831 hits. 544 of the hits were singles and 287 went for extra-bases.

This season they’ve faced 1,153 right-handed batters and given up 288 hits. 174 for singles and 114 for extra-bases.

In ’08, 14.9% of plate appearances by righties ended in a single. If 14.9% of the ’09 plate appearances by righties had ended in singles, the Phillies would have allowed 172. That’s just two fewer than they actually have allowed. If they were allowing extra-base hits and home runs at ’08 levels, though, they would have given up 91 extra-base hits and 29 home runs. They’ve actually allowed 114 extra-base hits and 55 home runs.

Here’s what it looks like if you use the rates for ’08 and compare them with the results for ’09 for hits, extra-base hits and home runs:

Right-handed batters vs PHI
’09 expected
at ’08 pace
262 172 91 29
’09 actual 288 174 114 55
actual/at ’08
1.10 1.01 1.25 1.90

So on a per-plate appearance basis against righties this season, the Phillies have given up 110% as many hits as they were giving up, but just 101% as many singles as they did last year. The other two numbers are much bigger — 125% of the extra-base hits and 190% of the home runs.

Brett Myers had surgery on his hip and will likely miss the rest of the season.

Shane Victorino’s hip has him day-to-day, which may mean Bruntlett will start in right again tonight with the Dodgers starting another lefty.

Finally, if you haven’t noticed, the Phillies starting pitching has been great of late. The starters have made five straight quality starts. In those five games the starters have gone 35 innings with a 1.29 ERA and an 0.74 ratio. Only once in the last five games has the starting pitcher allowed more than one run (Blanton allowed three runs to the Padres over seven innings).