Archive for September, 2009

Seven is enough

Take a look at the start log.

The Phillies started the season with seven games in a row in which they did not get a quality start. They don’t have a quality start in any of their last seven games. In between the first seven games of the season and the last seven games of the season there was never more than three games in a row in which they failed to make a quality start.

It sure seems like the bullpen is the Phillies biggest problem in their recent struggles to close out the division. But the starting pitching has been awful of late. This recent stretch of games isn’t quite as bad as the seven to start the year. But it’s been bad. Here’s how the starting pitching in the two funks compare:

  IP ERA Ratio
First 7 games
of season
35 9.00 1.91
Most recent 7
games
40 2/3 6.41 1.62

The Phils went 4-3 in the first seven games of the year and have gone 3-4 over the last seven. So they are 7-7 in the 14 games combined despite the fact that in those 14 games their starting pitchers combined to throw to a 7.61 ERA and a 1.78 ratio. They managed that because they were hitting well. Even as badly as they are playing in this most recent funk, they have still scored 39 runs. That’s 5.57 runs per game, which is more than the 5.06 runs per game they have averaged for the season. In the first stretch of seven games when they didn’t get a quality start they scored 40 runs (or about 5.71 per game).


Rest of the group catchering up with Ruiz

Coming into 2009, the Phillies were 113-79 (.589 winning percentage) in the games that Ruiz started at catcher and 68-64 (.515) in the games someone else started at catcher over the past two years. Their winning percentage when Ruiz starts this year is still good, but the Phillies have had some good results this season with other guys behind the plate, too. Here’s the Phillies record and winning percentage by starting catcher for 2009:

  G W L PCT
Ruiz 97 56 41 .577
Bako 31 19 12 .613
Coste 22 13 9 .591
Marson 6 3 3 .500
Hoover 1 0 1 .000
         
Total 157 91 66 .580

The Phils are 56-41 (.577) this year when Ruiz starts and 35-25 (.583) when he doesn’t.

Jamie Moyer left last night’s game after crumpling on the mound with what the team has called a left groin strain. His status is unknown. After throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings last night, Moyer now has a 1.93 ERA and an 0.70 ratio in 18 1/3 innings in relief for the season.

This says that Carlos Ruiz was in the Phillies lineup as of 4 PM yesterday but was scratched after batting practice. It also says that Myers may be ready by the end of the week.


And not just that but I think they have a problem in their bullpen

You may have noticed already, but the Phillies aren’t playing that well these days. Compared to anyone. They particularly aren’t playing well compared to some of the other National League teams they could face in the playoffs. Here’s a look at the records for five potential playoff teams in September as well as their runs scored and allowed per game for games this month and the difference between the two:

  W L Runs per
game
Allowed
per game
Diff
PHI 15 13 4.39 4.18 0.21
STL 13 11 4.63 3.63 1.00
LAD 15 10 5.24 3.80 1.44
COL 16 9 4.68 4.28 0.40
ATL 17 8 4.88 3.48 1.40

Not to be forgotten is that the Phillies had a magnificent run in September between September 8 to September 22 that gave them the lead that’s now shrinking. In that stretch they played 14 games and went 11-3. They scored 5.57 runs per game in that stretch and allowed 3.57 runs per game. In the 14 games in September that weren’t in the 9/8 to 9/22 run they have been miserable, scoring 3.21 runs per game while allowing 4.57.

This says that Carlos Ruiz could be back in the lineup tonight.

Pedro may start on Thursday.

In the article linked above, Rich Dubee mentions Happ, Blanton and Pedro among the guys who could finish a game for the Phillies. Sounds good to me. Jamie Moyer has a 2.08 ERA and an 0.69 ratio in 17 1/3 innings in relief this season.


Tying ugly

The Phillies managed an ugly split in their four-game series against the Brewers, winning and losing ugly both in a series that saw the two teams combine to make nine errors.

The Phils look sloppy and tired — in the field but also at the plate. Victorino has been in a funk with the bat since the end of July. Utley has one RBI since September 15. Werth is 2-for-his-last-28 with 14 strikeouts.

None of those problems are as worrisome as what’s happening in the bullpen, especially in the ninth inning. The starters got bounced early in the series, none of the four got an out in the seventh inning, and that was a lot of innings to pitch for a defense that wasn’t playing well. Tyler Walker got his chance to pitch in the ninth inning of a game that was close in game three. Didn’t go so well as Walker failed to retire a batter before giving up a walkoff homer. If there was a bright spot it was in what happened yesterday. With a 6-5 lead, the pen gave the Phils three scoreless frames including a four-out save from Madson.

The Phillies are 90-65 on the season after splitting a four-game series with the Brewers in Milwaukee. They are in first place in the NL East and lead the second-place Braves by five games with seven left to play. If the Phillies went 0-7 to end the year the Braves would have to go 5-2 to tie them atop the division.

The Phillies won the first game 9-4. Howard drove in Utley to give them a 1-0 lead in the first, but a one-out triple by Jason Kendall in the bottom of the third off of Happ helped the Brewers tie up the game. Feliz doubled in Francisco in the fourth to put the Phils up 2-1 before they got six runs in a fifth inning that featured a three-run homer by Rollins to make it 8-1. Milwaukee scored another run charged to Happ in the sixth to make it 8-2. The Phils extended the lead to 9-2 in the top of the eighth before Milwaukee scored two off of Condrey in the bottom of the ninth.

Lee got hit hard in game two as the Brewers won 8-4. A three-run homer by Mike Cameron off of Lee helped put Milwaukee up 4-0 after one inning. The Phils managed just nine singles and a walk in the game, but put a pair of runs on the board in the top of the fourth to cut the lead to 4-2. Lee gave up another three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth, this one to Prince Fielder, and the Brewers led 7-2. Milwaukee extended the lead to 8-2 with a run off of Lidge in the seventh. The Phils got RBIs from Howard and Werth in the top of the eighth to get within four.

Tyler Walker gave up a two-run homer to Ryan Braun in the ninth inning of game three, which the Brewers won 7-5. Bako put the Phils up 2-0 with a two-run shot in the second and RBIs from Feliz and Werth in the third made the lead 4-0. Milwaukee scored two off of Kendrick in the bottom of the third to cut the lead to 4-2 and a walk, a hit batter and a sacrifice bunt helped them score another in the fourth to make it 4-3. Howard put the Phillies up 5-3 with a solo homer in the fifth. Pitching in relief of Kendrick, Moyer got the first two hitters to start the sixth before giving up a walk and a ground-rule double that was followed by a two-run single Craig Counsell blooped into center field and off of Rollins’s glove that tied the game at 5-5. Walker came into the game to start the ninth and faced two batters, allowing a leadoff single to Counsell before Braun popped an 0-1 pitch out to right-center.

The Phils almost blew a five-run lead yesterday, but held on for a 6-5 win. Rollins led off the game with a home run and a one-out triple by Utley helped put the Phils up 2-0 after half an inning. Victorino delivered a two-run double in the second to make it 4-0 before Cameron hit a solo shot in the bottom of the inning. A two-run single by Feliz in the sixth gave Blanton a 6-1 lead to work with, but Mat Gamel hit a three-run homer in the bottom of a four-run sixth and the Phils lead was cut to 6-5. Escalona got Fielder to end the sixth with the tying run on base. Durbin threw a scoreless seventh and got the first two outs of the eighth before Madson picked Corey Hart off of first to end the inning. Madson came back for the ninth and gave up a one-out double to Fielder, but got the next two to end the game and earn his ninth save.

The Phillies threw 34 innings overall in the series with a 5.56 ERA and a 1.65 ratio.

The starting pitching in the series wasn’t good. Happ made the best start of the four and he allowed two runs and went just 5 2/3 innings. None of the four starters went more than six innings. As a group they threw to a 5.51 ERA with a 1.78 ratio over 16 1/3 innings.

Happ got the start in game one and went 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out seven. Happ’s results of late haven’t been great, but he does have his walks down. Over his last five starts he’s walked just seven in 29 2/3 innings.

Lee got blasted in game two. Two three-run homers were the big blasts of the game as he allowed seven runs on nine hits over six innings. Lee hasn’t walked a batter in seven of his last eight starts.

Kendrick went four innings in game three, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks. Kendrick has allowed just one home run over 20 2/3 innings on the season after giving up 23 in 155 2/3 innings last year.

Blanton got the start yesterday and went 5 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and four walks. Four of the five runs he allowed came on the two homers he gave up. Bad start for Blanton coming off of two in which he was fantastic.

The relievers were called on to throw a ton of innings in the series and didn’t fare well. They pitched more innings than the starters in the series, throwing 17 2/3 innings with a 5.60 ERA and a 1.53 ratio. Condrey gave up two unearned runs in game one. Walker surrendered a critical homer in game three.

Escalona started the eighth inning of game two with the Phillies down 8-4. He struck out the first two men he faced before allowing a single and a walk. He then struck out Corey Hart to leave both men stranded.

Escalona got a huge out yesterday, entering in the bottom of the sixth with one out, Fielder at the plate and the Phils up 6-5. Fielder grounded to second to end the inning.

Moyer took over for Kendrick in the fifth inning of game three with the Phils up 5-3. He threw a 1-2-3 fifth. In the sixth he got the first two before allowing a walk and a ground rule double. It put men on second and third for Counsell and Counsell popped a ball into shallow center. Rollins had a long run to get to the ball, but got there in time and didn’t make the difficult catch. Both runners scored and the game was tied at 5-5. Moyer got Braun on a ground ball to end the inning. Moyer allowed a two-out single in the seventh that was followed with a ground out and threw a 1-2-3 eighth.

Over his last 16 appearances Moyer has thrown 88 1/3 innings with a 3.87 ERA and a 1.22 ratio.

Durbin took over for Happ in the sixth inning of game two with two outs, men on first and second and the Phillies up 8-2. He got a ground out to end the inning. Durbin came back to pitch the seventh and got the first two before issuing back-to-back walks. He struck out Ryan Braun to end the inning.

Yesterday he started the seventh inning with the Phils up 6-5. He gave up a two-out double but kept the Brewers off the board. He came back to start the eighth and again got the first two before walking Hart. Madson came in to pitch to Braun.

Walker pitched the eighth inning of game one with an 8-2 lead. He hit a batter and gave up two singles, but kept Milwaukee off the board.

He also started the ninth inning in game three with the score tied at 5-5. Counsell led off with a single and Braun followed with a two-run homer to right-center that won the game for Milwaukee.

Condrey started the ninth inning of game one with a 9-2 lead. He gave up a leadoff single to Felipe Lopez before Corey Hart reached on an error by Howard. The next two men grounded out, with the second ground out scoring Lopez to make it 9-3. Casey McGehee delivered an RBI-single to plate another unearned run before Condrey got Mike Cameron on a fly ball to right to end the game.

Condrey also pitched yesterday in game four. He took over for Blanton in the bottom of the sixth with two outs, Hart on first and Ryan Braun at the plate with the Phils up 6-4. Hart stole second before Braun singled, cutting the lead to one at 6-5. Escalona came in to pitch to Fielder.

Madson entered game four with two outs in the eighth and Hart on first with the Phils up 6-5. He picked Hart off of first to end the inning. He came back to pitch the ninth. Fielder doubled with one out, but Madson got Felipe Lopez on a ball chopped back to the mound and struck Cameron out looking to end the game.

Lidge started the seventh inning of game two with the Phillies down 7-2. He gave up a leadoff single to Corey Hart, but got the next two hitters before Hart stole second. McGehee delivered an RBI-single before Lidge struck out Cameron to end the inning.

For Lidge it was his fifth outing in a row in which he had been charged with at least one run. Over his last five appearances he had been charged with seven runs in 4 2/3 innings on ten hits and two walks.

The Phillies scored 24 runs in the four-game series.

Rollins was 6-for-19 with a double, two walks and two home runs in the series. He’s hitting 247/292/419 for the season.

Victorino was 4-for-19 with a double and two walks. 292/360/442 for the year. He came into yesterday’s game hitting 242/311/379 in 210 plate appearances since the end of July.

Utley was 3-for-18 with a triple in the series. 290/405/522. He has one RBI since September 15.

Howard was 8-for-18 with two doubles, a home run and five RBI in the series. 277/355/569. Fielder was 5-for-16 with two doubles, a walk, a home run and six RBI in the series.

Werth was 1-for-15 with two walks in the series. 266/370/504 for the year. He’s 2-for-his-last-28 with 14 strikeouts, which could be a sign it’s time for a day off or four.

Ibanez started games one and two on the bench with Francisco in left. 1-for-6 with four walks in the series. He’s hitting 276/350/560 on the year.

Feliz was 7-for-17 in the series with a double. 267/311/384 on the year. He’s on-basing .257 in September after on-basing .257 in August.

Bako started games one, three and four of the series and went 6-for-14 with a double and a home run. He’s hitting 229/308/352.

Hoover caught game two of the series. 2-for-3 with two singles in the first action of the season for the 33-year-old.

Bruntlett appeared as a pinch-runner and still does not have an at-bat since August 25.

Francisco started the first two games of the series in left. 2-for-9 with a double in the series. 262/292/524 in 84 at-bats with the Phils. He walked 33 times in 308 at-bats this year with the Indians and has walked three times since joining the Phillies.

Mayberry was 0-for-1 in the series and is at 196/237/464 in 56 at-bats for the year.

Dobbs was 1-for-3 in the series and is hitting 261/312/408.

Stairs 0-for-2. 202/363/394.

Tracy was 1-for-1 and is 2-for-4 on the season.

This says that Romero could be activated today.


Late and closer

Not including yesterday’s games, here are the standings in the NL East since July 28:

  W L GB PCT
ATL 31 21 - .596
FLA 30 23 1.5 .566
PHI 30 23 1.5 .566
WAS 20 31 10.5 .392
NYM 17 37 15 .315

Given that’s the case, thank goodness for the standings through July 28:

  W L GB PCT
PHI 58 40 - .592
FLA 52 48 7.0 .520
ATL 51 49 8.0 .510
NYM 48 51 10.5 .485
WAS 32 68 27.0 .320

The Phillies haven’t played badly in the second half. They should, however, be glad that the Marlins and Braves combined to go four and two games above .500 respectively in their first hundred games of the season.

And while the Marlins and Braves got better in the recent stretch of games, it’s also important to realize that the Phillies got worse.

In the 98 games to start the season the Phils went 58-40, but the starting pitching and the runs they allowed overall were both terrible compared to the next 53 games in which they went 30-23. Over the first 98 games they allowed about 4.63 runs per game and their starters threw to a 4.63 ERA with a 1.40 ratio. Over the next 53 games they were worse overall, but their starters were much better. The starters pitched to a 3.28 ERA and a 1.22 ratio, helping the Phillies cut their runs allowed per game to about 3.66 — almost a full run lower than they had allowed per game in the first 98 games of the season.

They made up for it in the first 98 with a monster offense, of course. Over the first 98 they scored about 5.48 runs per game. That was down to about 4.25 runs per game over the next 53.

Despite the improvement in the pitching recently, it hasn’t been enough to make up for the fact the Phillies are scoring so many fewer runs. Over the first 98 games the difference between the average number of runs the Phillies scored and allowed per game was about 0.85 (5.48 minus 4.63) For the next 53 games it was a lot lower — 4.25 minus 3.66 is 0.59.

Todd Zolecki’s blog has quotes from Manuel talking about using Happ out of the pen or even in the ninth inning.

And Manuel talks about the possibility of using Walker to close in this article.

The Phils are still hoping to get Myers, Park and Romero back before the end of the regular season.

College football fans might want to check out Sunday Morning Quarterbacks, a newish blog from a couple of guys who literally wrote the book on college football.


Thanks for the memories

Given his unbelievable performance in 2008 and the fact that he’s going to be a Phillie for two more seasons, it’s a little hard to know when to pull the plug on Brad Lidge and his miserable 2009 season. I can help, though. The answer is right now.

The Phillies aren’t playing critical games these days. It would take a huge meltdown in conjunction with miraculous play by some other teams to keep them out of the playoffs. It’s not going to happen. It’s not just about the playoffs, though. Time after time Manuel comes up with “he’s my closer” when asked about Lidge. Really? Well your closer is having a terrible year, it kills your team and he’s only your closer because you say he is. As loyal as you are to Lidge you have a responsibility to your team to do better. At least when the games matter, you do. Lidge has an 8.84 ERA and a 2.02 ratio over his last 22 appearances. Every time Lidge gets the ball with the game on the line now it digs the hole deeper for Manuel — one more time to say he’s my closer and one more chance to get someone else some experience with the role that’s lost.

Lidge has two more years to get his ’08 magic back. It’s gone now, though, and anyone who can’t see that is blinded by something. If it’s loyalty that has Manuel blind I actually think that’s a little impressive. Maybe that loyalty to his players is how he gets so much out of them. But it’s not Brad Lidge’s job to say he doesn’t want to close anymore. Not his job to say he can’t get the job done. He doesn’t believe that and he shouldn’t and it’s never ever going to happen. It is Manuel’s job, though, and he has more than one player he needs to be loyal to.

The Phillies are 88-63 on the season after losing two of three to the Florida Marlins. The Phils are in first place in the NL East and lead the second-place Braves by 6 1/2 games. Atlanta has gone 8-2 over their last ten games to pull within four of the Rockies for the Wild Card. After winning game one of the series the Phillies were 27 games over .500 for the first time since the 1993 season.

The Phillies rolled to a 9-3 win behind a great start from Blanton in game one. Blanton exited with a 4-0 lead after allowing two singles and two walks over seven innings. The Phils broke it open with a five-run eighth in which Ibanez hit his 32nd homer of the season. Escalona and Walker combined to allow three Marlins runs in the bottom of the eighth.

Anibal Sanchez baffled the Phils in game two, throwing eight shutout innings as the Marlins won 3-0. Dan Uggla put the Fish up 1-0 with a solo homer off of Moyer in the second and Cody Ross extended it to 2-0 with another solo shot in the fourth. Hanley Ramirez doubled in Chris Coghlan in the fifth to make it 3-0. The Phillies had two hits in the game, a single by Utley and a double by Utley.

The Phillies coughed up three runs late last night and lost 7-6. A two-run doubled by Howard put the Phils up 2-0 in the top of the third, but the Fish put a run on the board off of Hamels in the fourth and went up 3-2 in the fifth. Ibanez homered in the sixth to tie the game at 3-3 and Hamels brought Feliz in with a two-out single to put the Phils back up at 4-3. Howard drove in two more runs with a two-run homer in the seventh. 6-3. Gaby Sanchez homered off of Hamels in the bottom of the seventh to get the Marlins back within two runs. Madson gave up a run in the eighth on two singles and a hit batter. 6-5. Lidge started the ninth in defense of the one-run lead and gave up a leadoff double to Ross Gload. He got the next two hitters before Ramirez walked and then Jorge Cantu tied the game with a single. With two outs and men on first, Brett Carroll delivered the game-winning single to center for Florida.

The Phillies threw 25 2/3 innings in the series, pitching to a 4.56 ERA and a 1.36 ratio.

Blanton made a great start in game one. Moyer and Hamels combined to allow seven runs in 14 innings in the next two games. Overall the starters threw to a 3.05 ERA with a 1.05 ratio over 21 innings. They allowed four home runs, Moyer and Hamels each gave up two.

Blanton was fantastic in the opener. He went seven shutout innings, allowing two singles and two walks while striking out nine. He hasn’t allowed a run in his last two starts and has allowed more than three runs in a start in his last 21 starts.

Moyer started game two and allowed three runs over seven innings on nine hits and a walk. He gave up a pair of solo home runs and struck out five. He’s allowed 27 home runs in 156 2/3 innings this year after allowing 20 in 196 1/3 innings in 2008.

Hamels went seven innings in game three, allowing four runs on eight hits. He didn’t walk a batter, but allowed two home runs in a game for the first time in eight starts. He’s walked just five batters in 36 2/3 innings for the month.

The relief pitching was terrible in the series. Escalona and Walker combined to give up three runs with a big lead in game one. Madson and Lidge got hit hard last night. Overall the pen pitched 4 2/3 innings with an 11.57 ERA and a 2.79 ratio. They allowed nine hits and four walks in less than five innings.

Escalona started the eighth inning of game one with the Phillies up 9-0. Coghlan singled with one out and Nick Johnson followed with a walk. Ramirez was next and he lined a double to center, scoring Coghlan to make it 9-1 with men on second and third and one out. Walker came in to pitch to the righty Cantu.

Walker entered game one in the eighth inning with one out, men on second and third and the Phillies up 9-1. He struck Jorge Cantu out for the second out, but Uggla was next and delivered a two-run single to right to make it 9-3. Walker walked Ronny Paulino before getting Cody Ross to pop to third to end the inning.

Condrey pitched a 1-2-3 ninth in game one with the Phils up 9-3.

Durbin pitched the eighth inning of game two with the Phillies down 3-0. He walked Wes Helms with one out before getting Uggla on a popup for the second. Paulino moved Helms to second with a single before Durbin struck out Ross to end the inning.

Madson started the eighth inning of game three with a 6-4 lead. He gave up a leadoff single to Cantu and then hit Nick Johnson with a pitch. He got Uggla to hit into a double-play, which left Cantu at third with two down. Ross singled to left and Cantu scored, making it 6-5. Madson struck out Paulino to end the inning.

Lidge pitched the ninth inning last night, entering with a 6-5 lead. Gload doubled to start the inning, but Lidge got the next two before walking Ramirez. It put men on first and third with two down for Cantu and Cantu singled to center, scoring Gload to make it 6-6. Ramirez went to third on the single and scored the game-winner when Carroll followed with a single.

The Phillies scored 15 runs in the three-game set.

Rollins was 2-for-13 with a double in the series and is hitting 245/290/411 for the season.

Victorino was 2-for-11 with three walks. 295/363/448 on the year. He’s hitting 240/310/385 over his last 198 plate appearances.

Utley was 3-for-11 with a double and two walks in the series. 294/412/530 for the year.

Howard went 4-for-14 with a double, a home run and seven RBI. He’s at 272/353/564 for the season.

Ibanez was 3-for-11 with two home runs and a walk in the series. He has six home runs but just ten RBI in the month. 277/347/565 for the year.

Werth was 1-for-9 with two walks in the series. 271/376/516. 1-for-his-last-13.

Feliz was on the bench for game one with Cairo at third. He went 1-for-7 with a double in the series. 262/308/381. He’s hitting 245/283/359 since the end of May. The end of May was a long time ago.

Ruiz started the night game of the double-header before returning to Philadelphia to have his wrist looked at. He was 0-for-2 in the series and is at 253/353/423 for the year.

Bako started games one and three of the series. 2-for-7 with two walks in the series. 198/291/297 on the year.

Cairo started game one at third and went 2-for-5 with a double in the series. He’s hitting 226/250/290 in 31 at-bats for the year.

Francisco was 0-for-1 in the series and is hitting 267/300/547 in 75 at-bats with the Phillies.

Bruntlett appeared as a pinch-runner in the series and still does not have an at-bat in September. 167/224/240 on the year.

Dobbs was 0-for-1 with a walk in the series and is at 259/312/410 for the season.

Stairs was 0-for-1 with a walk. 206/369/402 on the season. He’s 3-for-37 (.081) since the All-Star break.

This article says that Carlos Ruiz has had an MRI that showed no structural damage to his left wrist. Ruiz will likely have a cortisone injection today and be sidelined for three to five days.

The list of catchers that the Phillies have lost recently includes Jason Jaramillo, Lou Marson, Ronny Paulino and Chris Coste. Marson was part of the Lee deal, which was a fantastic trade for the Phils. The other three were pretty much given away, though. The Phils traded Jaramillo for Paulino in December. Paulino was traded for Taschner in an awful deal for the Phillies at the end of March. The Astros claimed Coste off of waivers in July after the Phils had acquired Bako. Losing Paulino for Taschner is the move of those three that hurts the most, Paulino has hit 278/344/435 in 223 at-bats for the Marlins this season.

The article linked above also says that Eyre was available to pitch last night.


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