The Playoff Start Log is updated and I think it says a lot about what went wrong for the Phillies in the World Series. In 2008 the Phils won it all, getting five quality starts in five World Series games. After Lee allowed one run in nine innings in game one of the NLDS against the Rockies this year, the Phils had made seven quality starts in a row in playoff games. In the last four games of the World Series this year the Phillies didn’t have a quality start and their starters threw to a 7.59 ERA. They allowed 18 earned runs in 21 1/3 innings.
That probably has a lot to do with how much better the Yankees are at scoring runs than the Rockies or Rays. Still, you aren’t going to win a lot of games when your starters throw to a 7.59 ERA.
The Yankees won the World Series this year. The Phillies didn’t. The Yankees had Andy Pettitte and the Phillies had Joe Blanton. The pair didn’t play in the same league in 2009, but they had pretty similar numbers during the regular season:
If the two players had a similar year in the regular season, they didn’t in the post-season. The Yankees put a whole lot of their playoff eggs in the Pettitte basket, but Blanton was not a big part of the Phillies rotation in the playoffs. You didn’t have to watch the Phillies play too many playoff games this year before that became apparent. He was pitching in relief in the sixth inning of game two of the NLDS with the Phils down 4-0.
The Phils and Yankees both played 15 post-season games in 2009. Pettitte threw almost twice as many innings as Blanton. He threw 30 2/3 while Blanton threw 15 2/3. Blanton made two starts and two appearances in relief while Pettitte’s post-season legend grew. Pettitte made five post-season starts in ’09 and went 4-0 with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.21 ratio.
Why would the Phillies do such a thing? Well, it wasn’t because Blanton hadn’t been good in the post-season. He helped them win the World Series in 2008 as he started three playoff games. The Phils won all three as Blanton went 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.29 ratio.
The why, apparently, turned out to be that the Phils thought their chances were better with Pedro Martinez. The Phils signed the free agent Martinez in mid-July to a contract that would have the Phillies paying him about a million dollars. Martinez made nine starts for the Phils in 2009 and pitched better than a lot of people were expecting, going 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.25 ratio. There were some warning signs, too, though. Opponents slugged .472 against him and he allowed eight home runs in 44 2/3 innings. That home run rate would have had him allowing about 36 over 200 innings. Milwaukee’s Braden Looper was the only pitcher in either league that allowed 36 or more home runs this season. Two of his early starts with the Phils were cut short by rain, but he threw less than five innings per start in his nine outings with the Phils.
He didn’t exactly end the regular season on a high note. He made a fantastic start against the Mets on September 13 in which he threw 130 pitches in eight shutout innings. His next start was against the Braves on September 19 and he allowed three runs over three innings before leaving the game with a neck problem. He made just one more start before the end of the year and he wasn’t very good. On September 30, he faced Houston and allowed three runs on six hits and a walk over four innings.
It didn’t scare off the Phillies. They let him start a game in the NLCS and two games in the World Series. They lost all three games. In the first he pitched great but had to be pulled before he had thrown 90 pitches. In each of the next two the Phils left him in the game too long. He started the game in which they were eliminated from the World Series and was awful.
So Blanton was a solid pitcher this year, the Phils gave at least some of his playoff starts to Pedro, who not a lot of other teams seemed to want, and then they lost every post-season game that Pedro started. That sounds pretty bad and I think it was. It’s a little more complicated than that, though.
The Phillies scored a total of five runs in the three games Martinez started. Pedro didn’t pitch as well as his numbers would indicate, but his numbers were great overall for the playoffs. In the three playoff starts with the Phils, Pedro threw to a 3.71 ERA with an 0.88 ERA. Blanton, meanwhile, did not pitch well in his post-season chances. He made two starts and two relief appearances overall for the post-season, throwing to a 5.17 ERA and a 1.21 ratio.
Still, the decision to go with Martinez instead of Blanton in the post-season was critical for the Phillies. And it didn’t work.
Cliff Lee will be back with the Phils in 2010 after the Phillies picked up his $9 million option.
Brett Myers will not be back.
Feliz may or may not be back, but it’s a little less likely now that the Phillies have declined his $5.5 million option.
I think the Phils went 3-for-3 in that flurry. I think it was the right decision not to pick up Feliz’s option, but I was surprised to see them do it. Beltre, Figgins and DeRosa seem to be the names that most people are talking about as improvements at third. If he’s healthy, I think Troy Glaus would be a huge help for the Phillies offensively as well. You might notice some defensive dropoff, though. The list of free agent third basemen that would help the Phils more than Feliz isn’t that long, so hopefully they have something in mind.
Ibanez (sports hernia) and Eyre (loose bodies in his elbow) were scheduled for surgeries yesterday and Lidge will have surgery on Wednesday to remove loose bodies from his right elbow.
Park, Feliz, Bako, Stairs, Martinez, Myers and Cairo have all filed to become free agents.