Question of the day is why doesn’t Tyler Walker pitch to more batters when the game is close. Answer of the day is “I don’t know” — given that’s the answer at least I can demonstrate that he doesn’t pitch to a lot of batters when the game is close.

First things first: Walker has been fantastic for the Phillies this season. He came into yesterday’s games with a 2.35 ERA for the year and a 0.98 ratio. Opponents were hitting .204 against him for the season and on-basing .258.

Still, as the back of the bullpen implodes Walker virtually never is pitching in situations when the game is close. The chart below lists all of the Phillies pitchers who have faced at least one batter this year, how many total batters they have faced, how many batters they have faced when the score was tied or one of the teams was winning by one run and the percent of batters faced when the score was tied or with the Phils up or down one. It is divided into three sections — pitchers who have worked only as starters are at the top, pitchers who have worked only as relievers are at the bottom and pitchers who have pitched both as starters and as relievers are in a group in the middle (the chart does not include yesterday’s games).

  Total PA PA tie or
within one
% tie or
within one
Pedro
Martinez
171 115 67.3
Cole Hamels 740 483 65.3
Joe Blanton 753 488 64.8
Cliff Lee 275 128 46.5
Antonio
Bastardo
102 46 45.1
       
Brett Myers 294 159 54.1
Kyle Kendrick 66 32 48.5
JA Happ 623 300 48.2
Jamie Moyer 648 277 42.7
Chan Ho Park 362 161 44.5
Andrew
Carpenter
32 13 40.6
Rodrigo Lopez 137 52 38.0
       
JC Romero 68 40 58.8
Ryan Madson 298 126 42.3
Clay Condrey 156 64 41.0
Brad Lidge 263 107 40.7
Scott Eyre 119 39 32.8
Chad Durbin 285 93 32.6
Jack Taschner 138 24 17.4
Sergio
Escalona
34 4 11.8
Tyler Walker 125 14 11.2
Steven
Register
11 0 0.0

So the only player who has pitched for the Phillies this season and thrown to a lower percentage of the batters he’s faced with the score tied or the Phils up or down one run is Steven Register, who appeared in one game and faced 11 hitters.

As I mentioned above, if you’re looking for the answer to why questions you’ve come to the wrong place. I don’t know. If I had to guess my guess would be that Manuel is terrified of the prospect of Walker facing a left-handed hitter with the game close. Walker has been great against lefties in 2009 — they’ve hit 209/271/302 against him, which is actually better than the 200/250/343 that righties have hit against Walker. In 2008, however, lefties smoked Walker to the tune of 319/372/597. Over his career lefties have hit an ugly 281/352/459 against Walker.

Aside from Walker, I think that the chart shows some other interesting things. First and most obvious is that starting pitchers generally face more batters with the game close and a higher percentage of their batters than relief pitchers do.

I think the difference in the percentage of the hitters that Romero and Eyre faced in tight games is telling. Both would like be used primarily as situational lefties in the post-season if available, but Manuel has given Romero a lot more of his chances in tight games. Eyre has been better.

Condrey has faced a higher percentage of hitters in one run or closer games than Lidge. His percentage is also higher than Durbin. Durbin has a low percentage of hitters faced in tight games compared to other regulars in the group. It’s also down from last year. In 2008, Durbin faced 364 batters and faced 174 of them (47.8%) with the score tied or the Phils up or down a run. I don’t think any of that bodes well for Durbin.

Myers has a strained back. The Phillies hope he will return before the end of the regular season.

The article linked above says that Happ will start on Thursday, Lee on Friday and (hopefully) Pedro on Saturday.

It also says that Dobbs was not ready to play third yesterday with his calf. I still find starting Cairo to be very odd. Even if Dobbs does not go I don’t understand why it would be Cairo and not Bruntlett. I’ve been saying for a while that I think Bruntlett is on the post-season roster because he’s the only choice to back up the middle infield. That’s not literally true, of course. It’s also notable that Bruntlett does not have an at-bat this month. We’ll see.

The same article says that Eyre needs surgery but is cleared to pitch, pitched yesterday and felt good. It also says that Romero threw 50 pitches yesterday and will throw again tomorrow and that Park could pitch next week.