On May 18, the Phillies scored four runs off of Boston starter Daniel Bard in the bottom of the first inning on their way to a 6-4 win. The win was the sixth in a row for the Phils and they were two games above .500 for the year at 21-19.

Since May 18, the Phillies have played 22 games in which they’ve won eight and lost 14. If you compare the first 40 games to the last 22, you’ll find these things are true:

  • Over their last 22 games, in which they Phils went 8-14, they scored more runs per game than they had in the first 40 games of the season during which they went 21-19.
  • Over the last 22 games, the bullpen was dramatically better than it was during the first 40. The relievers pitched more innings with much better results.

Here are the numbers on the runs scored per game and on the bullpen performance through May 18 and after May 18:

W L Runs R/G Pen IP/Game Pen ERA Pen Ratio
Thru 5/18/12 21 19 165 4.13 2.3 5.34 1.49
After 5/18/12 8 14 96 4.36 3.0 2.74 1.04

Over the last 22 games, the Phillies have scored more runs (4.36) than they did over the first 40 (4.13). More dramatic than that, though, is that the bullpen has seen a remarkable turnaround while the Phillies have gone 8-14. After throwing to an ERA over five through the first 40 games, the bullpen has been very good over the last 22 games.

But while the Phillies have scored about a quarter of a run more over the last 22 games (.23 more runs per game), the problem is that they’ve allowed a whole lot more than that. In games through May 18, the Phillies allowed 3.88 runs per game. Since May 18, they’ve allowed almost a full run more at 4.86 runs per game. If you score a quarter of a run more per game and allow nearly a full run more per game and play enough games, you’re results are going to get worse.

The table above shows the problem is not the bullpen. The defense has been awful over the last few games, but not awful enough to be the primary source of the problem. The Phillies allowed about .325 unearned runs per game in games 1-40 and about .318 unearned runs per game in games 41-62. That leaves the starting pitchers. And they have been absolutely terrible.

Here’s what starters have done as a group through May 18 and after May 18 as well as the won-loss record for the team:

Thru 5/18 21 19 267.7 6.69 2.93 1.09
After 5/18 8 14 133.7 6.08 5.39 1.41
Total 29 33 401.3 6.47 3.75 1.20

Over the last 22 games, the Phillies have made eight quality starts and their rotation has thrown to a 5.39 ERA.

Here are some numbers on the starters through and after May 18:

Games 1-40 Games 41-62
Lee 5 33.7 4.54 1.37 5 37 1.95 0.76
Blanton 5 26.3 9.91 1.86 7 48 2.81 1.04
Kendrick 4 27 3.00 1.26 4 20 4.95 1.50
Hamels 4 28.7 3.77 1.08 8 54.3 2.48 1.03
Halladay 2 8 10.13 1.88 9 64.3 3.22 1.06
Worley 2 10 3.60 1.40 7 44 3.07 1.34
Total 22 133.7 5.39 1.41 40 267.7 2.93 1.09

Lee and Blanton were dramatically better in their starts in games 1-40. Hamels and Worley were better, but not as dramatically. Kendrick has been better in his last four starts than he was in his first four. A major issue, of course, is Halladay. During the first 40 games of the season, Halladay threw 64 1/3 innings. That was about 18% of the total innings thrown by Phillies pitchers in those games. Over the last 22 games, he threw about 4% of the total innings pitched by the Phils, making two starts, both of which were awful. He’s not coming back any time soon, either, so if the Phils are going to stay alive in 2012 they’re going to need to figure out how to stabilize the rotation without him and fast. Now would be good.