Earlier this week I wrote that after leading the NL in runs allowed per nine innings by relievers in 2008, the Phils dropped to ninth in that category in 2009. Despite the big drop in 2009, opponents posted very similar batting lines against the Phillies relief pitchers in 2009 and 2008:


Year

AVG

OBP

SLG

2009

246

335

373

2008

251

333

371

Again, the ’08 pen was a lot better than the ’09 pen, but those numbers look very similar.

Curiously, you were more likely to get a hit or a walk against the ’08 guys than you were the ’09 guys.

In 2009, the Phillies pen faced 2,143 batters and allowed 457 hits (21.3% of batters) and 223 walks (10.4%). So about 31.7% of hitters got a hit or a walk. In 2008 the pen faced 2,071 hitters and allowed 456 hits (22.0%) and 211 walks (10.2%). About 32.2% of hitters got a hit or a walk against the ’08 pen.

That’s a little perplexing because opponents posted a better on-base percentage in 2009 than they did in 2008. A big part of the explanation is that Phillies relievers hit a lot more batters in 2009 than they did in 2008 — they plunked 32 in ’09 after hitting just 16 in ’08.

You were also more likely to get an extra-base hit against the ’08 pen than you were against the ’09 pen.

The ’09 pen allowed 134 extra-base hits to 2,143 hitters (6.25%) and the ’08 pen allowed 136 extra-base hits to 2,071 hitters (6.57%).

It sure seems like you should get better if you improve the rate at which you allow hits or walks while you improve the rate at which you allow extra-bases. But the Phillies bullpen got worse.

A big part of this was how bad the extra-base hits that the Phillies gave up were in 2009. Despite the fact that they allowed fewer extra-base hits overall in 2009, the extra-base hits they allowed in 2009 did more damage.

In 2008, the Phillies pen allowed 136 extra-base hits — 92 doubles, seven triples and 37 home runs. That’s 353 total bases or 2.6 bases per extra-base hit.

In 2009 they allowed 134 extra-base hits — just 79 doubles, nine triples and 46 home runs. That’s a total of 369 total bases or 2.75 bases per extra-base hit. So a better rate of preventing extra-base hits in 2009, but the extra-base hits they allowed were worse.

The most important difference between the bullpen of 2008 and the bullpen of ’09 was that the ’08 pen was outstanding at preventing home runs compared to the rest of the league while the ’09 pen was not. The ’08 pen allowed 37 home runs, which was the fewest in the NL. In ’09, only six NL teams allowed more home runs than the 46 that the Phils’ relievers gave up.

In ’08, the Phillies had seven relief pitchers who threw 20 or more innings for the team. Of those seven, Tom Gordon allowed the most home runs per nine innings. He allowed three in 29 2/3 innings or about 0.91 per nine innings.

In 2009 there were nine Phillies pitchers who threw 20 or more innings in relief. Of those nine, four, Walker, Durbin, Taschner and Lidge, all allowed more than 0.91 home runs per nine innings while pitching in relief. Eyre was almost a fifth — he allowed 0.90 homers per nine innings.

The home run problem would have been a whole lot worse for the relievers were it not for Chan Ho Park. Park pitched 50 innings in relief for the Phillies in 2009 without allowing a home run. In 33 1/3 innings as a starter he gave up five. The Braves’ Peter Moylan was the only reliever in either league besides Park to throw 35 or more innings in relief in ’09 without allowing a home run.

The charts below show the four Phillies pitchers that threw at least 20 innings in relief in each of the last two seasons and had the worst rates of allowing runs per nine innings pitched as a reliever on the team. For each of the pitchers it shows the number of innings the player threw in relief that year, the runs they allowed per nine innings and the home runs they allowed per nine innings:


2008
       
Player IP Runs/9 HR/9
Durbin 87 2/3 3.4 0.51
Condrey 69 3.4 0.78
Seanez 43 1/3 5.0 0.42
Gordon 29 2/3 5.8 0.91
       

2009
       
Player IP Runs/9 HR/9
Condrey 42 3.6 0.86
Durbin 69 2/3 4.9 1.03
Taschner 29 1/3 5.5 0.92
Lidge 58 2/3 7.8 1.69

The biggest thing about that list is that the guys at the top who were the worst among the 2008 pen in terms of runs allowed per nine innings were pretty good. Durbin was great in ’08, throwing to 2.87 ERA with a 1.32 ratio and allowing just five home runs in nearly 90 innings. Condrey wasn’t quite as good, but threw to a 3.26 ERA with a 1.51 ratio. He also was pretty good at keeping the ball in the yard, allowing 0.78 homers per nine in a season when the average NL reliever allowed about 0.96.

In 2008, the Phillies had just two relievers who threw more than 20 innings for the season and allowed more than 3.4 runs per nine innings for the season. Those two, Seanez and Gordon, combined to throw 73 innings. In 2009 the Phils had four relievers who threw more than 20 innings and allowed more than 3.4 runs per inning and those four combined to throw 199 2/3 innings.

This says that the Phillies talks with Polanco are getting serious. I think it would be pretty bad news if the Phillies signed Polanco to be their third baseman.

This suggests the Phillies could have interest in John Smoltz. Please no.

The Phillies did not offer arbitration to Park or Eyre. I think both of those guys still have a chance to be back next year.

Billy Wagner is a Brave.

The Phillies signed Brian Schneider to be Ruiz’s backup.