The Phillies have had a whole lot of problems scoring runs in the early going, but they’ve also been less dominating when it comes to preventing them relative to the rest of the league. Coming into today’s games, the Phillie starters had been very good for the season, but weren’t particularly close to being the best rotation in the league.
And that could be a problem for a team counting on having the best rotation in the league.
Here’s a look at how the Phils have fared at scoring and preventing runs so far this season as well as some numbers for their starters and relievers:
|Year||R/G (Rank)||RA/G (Rank)||SP ERA (Rank)||RA/IP SP||IP/G SP||RP ERA||RA/IP RP||IP/G RP|
|’12||3.32 (14)||3.26 (4)||2.80 (4)||.343||6.60||3.12 (5)||.438||2.28|
|’11||4.40 (7)||3.27 (1)||2.86 (1)||.338||6.57||3.45 (7)||.410||2.55|
The biggest problem, of course, is that the Phillies are scoring more than a run less in 2012 than they did in 2011, falling from seventh in the league in runs scored per game to 14th. I don’t think the Phils are going to overcome that, no matter what kind of pitching they get. They’re either going to get a whole lot better than 14th in the league in runs scored per game or they’re going to lose a lot.
Beyond the obvious issues with the offense, I think there’s been another, less important, issue in the early going as well. While the starting pitching for the Phillies has been very good, it hasn’t been as dominant relative to the rest of the league as it was in 2011.
In 2011, the Phillies clearly had the best starting rotation in the NL, throwing to a 2.86 ERA and a 1.11 ratio for the season. The Giants were probably the team with the second-best rotation, but they were significantly behind the Phils, pitching to a 3.28 ERA with a 1.24 ratio and throwing about .41 of an inning less than the Phils per start.
In 2012, the starting pitchers for the Phils have been about as good as they were in 2011 and maybe a little better, throwing to a 2.80 ERA with a 1.09 ratio. The problem is that while similar numbers made them the best in the league in 2011, the Phils haven’t had the best starting rotation in the league so far in 2012. The Nats, Cardinals and Pirates have all had starting pitching that’s been better than the Phillies so far and the Dodgers have been about the same. The bullpen for the Phillies has been better than it was in 2012, but even when you factor that in, the advantage that the Phillies have gotten relative to the rest of the league in preventing runs in 2012 is not as large as it was in 2011.
In 2011, the Phillies allowed an average of 3.27 runs per game, which is about 78.6% of the NL average of 4.16 runs per game. So far in 2012, the Phillies have allowed an even better 3.26 runs per game, but that 3.26 runs per game is about 82.7% of the NL average of 3.94 runs allowed per game.
So even though the pitching has been good, it hasn’t given the Phillies nearly the same advantage it did in 2011. And that’s a problem for a team counting on their starting pitching to make up for a whole lot of problems scoring runs.
Finally, if you haven’t done so recently, take a moment and look at the numbers that Washington’s starrting pitchers have posted while pacing the Nats to a 14-5 start. It’s a little silly. Zimmerman, Strasburg, Gonzalez and Detwiler have combined to make 15 starts of the 19 starts and not one of them has an ERA over 1.55 or a ratio over 0.94.
Halladay (3-1, 1.50) faces lefty Paul Maholm (1-2, 8.36) tonight as the Phils host the Cubs. Halladay hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his four stars on the year or given up a home run. The Phils are 3-1 in his outings. Maholm was hit hard in his first two starts, allowing six runs in four innings in each, but held the Reds to a run over six innings his most recent time out.