The Phillies appear to be on the brink of signing Pedro Martinez to bolster the struggling starting rotation. The rotation has been awful this season. The starters have thrown to a 4.98 ERA, which is worse than all but four of the 30 teams in the Major Leagues. The 91 home runs the starters have allowed is the most of any team in either league and Phillies starters have thrown fewer innings than every NL team except for the Padres.

Partly they’ve thrown fewer innings than other NL teams because they’ve played fewer games. The Phillies have played just 86 games at the break, which ties them with the Cubs for the fewest played. The 5.78 innings per start they have thrown is ninth most of the 16 NL teams. In 2008 the starters went about 5.97 innings per start, which was fourth most in the league.

So as a group they have a miserable ERA, give up a ton of home runs and don’t pitch deep into games. What they haven’t done, though, is struggle recently. The starting pitching started out awful but has gotten better every month this season — so far in July the starting pitching has been excellent. Here’s what the starters have done by month in 2009:

  ERA Ratio K/9 BB/9 H/9
April 6.35 1.68 7.19 3.09 12.04
May 5.53 1.39 6.95 2.91 9.63
June 4.10 1.39 6.71 2.72 9.77
July 3.70 1.09 5.62 1.67 8.12
           
Total 4.98 1.41 6.72 2.70 9.97

The ERA, ratio and rates of hits and walks allowed for the starters have gone down steadily. Oddly, however, the starters were striking hitters out a lot more regularly earlier in the season. For example, they struck out 86 in 107 innings in a miserable April (7.19 per nine) but have been much better overall so far in July and struck out just 47 in 75 1/3 innings (5.62 per nine).

The Phillies clearly need to get help in the rotation — it’s just a little odd that it looks like it’s finally coming just as the rotation starts to pitch a whole lot better.

This suggests the Phillies will sign Pedro Martinez if his passes his physical. The physical is supposed to be today.

Ryan Howard hit 15 home runs in last night’s home run derby, which was won by Prince Fielder.

Raul Ibanez and Pat Gillick are best friends forever and Lou Piniella didn’t care for Ibanez.