Bullpen

Lucky number eleven?

So far this year, righty David Herndon has thrown to a 3.38 ERA out of the pen for the Phils while his fellow righty Michael Stutes has thrown to a 3.69 ERA. Herndon hasn’t really been better than Stutes, though, has he?

Here’s at look at some of the other numbers for the pair:

IP ERA Ratio BF % H % BB % HR % K
Stutes 61 3.69 1.26 256 19.1 10.9 2.7 21.9
Herndon 56 3.38 1.38 240 27.5 9.6 3.8 15.8

No. He really hasn’t. He’s been better at preventing walks than Stutes, but allowed hits and home runs at a higher rate while striking out batters less regularly.

Herndon does have the better ERA, but with a big but. Herndon has allowed 26 runs in his 56 innings, but five of those 26 (19.2%) have been unearned. All 21 of the runs that have been charged to Stutes have been earned.

Another big difference is that Stutes has been good against left-handed hitters while they have hammered Herndon:

% of BF righties vs righties % of BF lefties vs lefties
Stutes 54.3 224/297/352 45.7 216/328/392
Herndon 60.8 200/250/285 39.2 364/473/701

Again, just terrible numbers for Herndon against lefties as they hit a silly 364/473/701 against him. If lefties are going to hit 364/473/701 against you it means you can’t pitch against them. Stutes, on the other hand, has been very effective against lefties, holding them to a 216/328/392 line.

Not to be lost in that as well is that as horrid as Herndon has been against left-handed hitters, he’s been fantastic against righties — righties have on-based just .250 against Herndon for the season. By OPS against, Halladay and Bastardo are the only pitchers for the Phils who have faced more than 15 batters this year who have been more effective against righties than Herndon.

The other thing is that Herndon has some impressive numbers late in the season. Over his last 19 appearances, he’s thrown to a 1.48 ERA with a 1.27 ratio and struck out 18 in 24 1/3 innings. Stutes, on the other hand, has a 5.12 ERA over his last 16 appearances. Here’s what the two have done since the All-Star break:

IP ERA Ratio RA per 9 IP
Stutes 30 2/3 4.11 1.37 4.11
Herndon 28 1.61 1.29 2.89

Again, Herndon gets some help with unearned runs. He has allowed nine runs in the second half and only five of them have been earned. But a 1.61 ERA is a 1.61 ERA and whether his ERA number in the second half is misleading or not, there’s still a very good case to be made that 1) he’s been better than Stutes in the second half and 2) he’s been fantastic against righties all year long.

So what are the Phillies going to do? I don’t know, but I think they should make room for Herndon. Stutes seems like a lock for the post-season roster. This suggests the Phils will carry 11 pitchers and slot 11 will go to Blanton or Herndon. My guess is that slots 1-10 go to these guys: Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt, Worley, Madson, Bastardo, Kendrick, Stutes and Lidge. If you have to pick between Herndon and Blanton, I think you have to go with Herndon given that Roy Oswalt is your #4 starter and that Worley and Kendrick should both be able to provide multiple innings in long relief.

The article linked above suggests that Joe Savery, Justin De Fratus and Domonic Brown will go to Clearwater in case the Phillies need to replace a player on their post-season roster.

The Phillies are 100-60 on the year after beating the Atlanta Braves 4-2 last night. Lee got the start for the Phils and gave up two early runs, allowing a solo shot to Chipper Jones in the first and a second run on a double by Alex Gonzalez in the second. Polanco singled with two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth, knocking in Pence to cut the lead to 2-1 and Rollins tied things up at 2-2 with a solo homer in the fifth. The Phillies pulled ahead 3-2 in the sixth when Victorino’s one-out triple was followed by an RBI-single by Ibanez. Ibanez drove Victorino in again in the eighth. Victorino doubled with one out and again Ibanez followed with a single, scoring Victorino to put the Phils up 4-2.

Lee got his 17th win, holding the Braves to two runs over six innings. Savery, Stutes, Lidge and Madson combined to throw three scoreless innings after he left.

Rollins, Howard, Victorino and Ibanez all had two hits for the Phils.

Rollins is 5-for-his-last-10 coming off of an 0-for-16 coming into the second game on Saturday.

Victorino 4-for-his-last-10 with three extra-base hits.


Dog days of summer bring down days for relievers

The Phillies bullpen was outstanding early in the year, but they’ve been a little less outstanding lately. The numbers for the season overall are still good, the 3.49 ERA the pen has thrown to this year is sixth-best in the NL, but the pen has fallen off overall.

Here’s what the relievers for the Phils did in April and May and what they have done since:

IP/G ERA Ratio K/9
April and May 2.75 2.80 1.28 6.9
June, July & August 2.35 4.09 1.27 8.4
Total 2.54 3.49 1.27 7.7

Since the end of May, the pen has been throwing fewer innings per game and striking out more batters when they do pitch, but with worse results overall. In their appearances in April and May, Phillie relievers allowed about 0.34 runs per inning pitched. In their appearances since the end of May they have allowed about 0.47 runs per inning pitched.

The bullpen is still throwing a tiny number of innings compared to the rest of the league. No NL team has thrown fewer frames than the 322 2/3 innings the Phils have tossed this year — the Dodgers are 15th in the NL in relief innings pitched and LA relievers have thrown 18 more innings than the relievers for the Phillies have.

In this post from January, I pointed out that in 2010 the Phillies relievers threw not just the fewest number of innings in the NL, but the fewest number of innings that any NL team had thrown for five years. At this point in the 2011 season, the Phillies have played 128 games and thrown 322 2/3 innings, which puts them on a pace to throw about 408 1/3 innings for the year. That would be fewer than the 421 innings they threw during the 2010 season, but still more than the 397 2/3 innings that the St Louis bullpen tossed during the 2005 season.

The strong start to the year makes the numbers for the Phillies pen look pretty good overall compared to the rest of the league. But the relievers have thrown to a 4.09 ERA since the end of May and that’s a whole lot less exciting than the 2.80 ERA for the first two months of the year. Only two NL teams, the Mets and the Astros, have seen their relievers throw to an ERA worse than 4.09 for this season overall.

Oswalt (6-7, 3.51) faces righty Clay Hensley (1-5, 5.47) tonight as the Phils start a series with the Marlins. Right-handed hitters have hammered the righty Hensley this year, hitting .337 against him. Hensley was a reliever in the first half of the season and threw to a 3.60 ERA over 15 appearances. Since the All-Star break he has appeared only as a starter, starting seven games and throwing to a 6.29 ERA. His first three starts after the break were good — he threw to a 2.65 ERA and opponents hit .165 against him. Over his last four starts he has allowed 19 runs in 17 1/3 innings. Oswalt was fantastic his last time out, throwing eight shutout innings against the Nats and striking out nine. He has been hit hard by righties this year, they have posted a 305/346/447 line against him, which is way better than their 247/295/384 line against him over his career.

Sunday’s game has been moved and will be played as part of a double-header on Saturday.


Picking favorites

Using the Start Log, we can track how the bullpen is doing this year based on the game’s starting pitcher. Here’s how things look so far (the starters are ordered by the average number of innings the bullpen has thrown in their starts):

Starts Total IP by
Pen in starts
IP per start Pen ERA Pen Ratio H/9 BB/9 SO/9
Kendrick
Blanton
Worley
Oswalt
Lee
Hamels
Halladay
4
6
4
11
14
13
14
21.0
22.7
15.0
33.3
32.0
29.0
28.7
5.25
3.78
3.75
3.03
2.29
2.23
2.05
2.14
3.18
6.00
2.97
2.25
1.55
4.40
1.43
1.46
1.40
1.26
1.22
1.31
1.26
9.43
6.35
9.60
7.56
7.88
6.52
7.22
3.43
6.75
3.00
3.78
3.09
5.28
4.08
7.71
5.96
6.60
4.86
9.00
7.76
7.53
Total 66 181.7 2.75 3.02 1.32 7.63 4.21 7.08

So, for example, Kendrick has made four starts on the year. In those starts the bullpen has thrown 21 innings, which is about 5.25 innings per start. In those 21 innings they’ve thrown to a 2.14 ERA and a 1.43 ratio while allowing 9.43 hits per nine innings, 3.43 walks per nine innings and struck out about 7.71 batters per nine innings.

Important to remember is that some elements of how many innings the bullpen pitches in a start by a particular starter is out of that starter’s control. For example, the bullpen has thrown 28 2/3 innings in the 14 starts that Halladay made, but 12 of those innings came in a May 25 game against the Reds that went 19 innings. Despite that, the pen has still thrown the fewest number of innings per game when Halladay was on the mound. Excluding the May 25 game, they have pitched 16 2/3 innings in his 13 starts or about 1.28 innings per game.

Overall, the pen has thrown an average of 2.75 innings per game for the year. They have thrown less than that in the starts by Halladay, Hamels and Lee and more than that in the starts by Oswalt, Worley, Blanton and Kendrick.

In the games where Lee or Hamels was on the mound, the pen has 1) thrown to a better than average ERA 2) thrown to a better than average ratio and 3) struck out batters at a rate that’s higher than average for the year.

In the games started by Blanton or Worley, the pen has been worse in all three of those categories.

That leaves Kendrick, Oswalt and Halladay. With Halladay on the mound, the pen has thrown to a slightly higher than average ERA but was better in the ratio and strikeout categories. With Oswalt on the hill they’ve struck batters out at a lower rate, but pitched to a better than average ERA and ratio. In Kendrick’s starts they’ve struck out more batters than they have on average and thrown to a better ERA, but with a higher ratio.

Finally, if you look at the runs allowed per inning pitched for the year based on the starter who started the game, it’s easily to see who has gotten the best performance from the pen:

Starter Runs allowed per inning by pen
Hamels
Lee
Oswalt
Kendrick
Blanton
Halladay
Worley
0.172
0.281
0.330
0.381
0.441
0.488
0.667

Remember there that we’re looking at runs allowed per inning by the pen and not earned runs. So the pen has a 2.14 ERA in games started by Kendrick, but three of the eight runs the pen has allowed in his starts are unearned. So the pen has a nifty ERA in his starts, but the runs allowed per inning pitched is much worse compared to the rest of the group.

Anyway, it’s clear that Hamels is the big winner of the best bullpen performance so far award. Relievers have allowed just five runs in 29 innings in his 13 starts for the year.


Walks off

In 2010, the Phillies were outstanding at preventing walks. They walked just 416 batters, which was the fewest that any National League team had walked in a season since the Mets walked 401 batters in 1995.

The effort was led by Halladay, who walked 30 hitters in 250 2/3 innings in 2010, but the pitchers other than Halladay on the 2010 Phils were good at preventing walks as well. The non-Halladay pitchers combined to walk batters at a lower rate than the Cardinals, who were the second-best pitching staff at preventing walks overall in 2010.

The Phils weren’t particularly outstanding at preventing walks when pitching in relief, though. Only four NL teams saw their relievers walk fewer batters in 2010, but the Phils called on their bullpen to pitch fewer innings than anyone in the NL. By walks allowed per inning pitched, the relievers of seven NL teams were better at preventing walks in 2010 than the Phillie relievers were.

That has slipped even further in the early part of this season. In 2011, the Phils have allowed fewer walks overall than any team in baseball (although the Braves, who have played three more games, are allowing slightly fewer walks per nine innings). The walk rate for the starters has gotten a little bit worse (2.57 per nine in 2010 to 2.71 per nine so far this year), but the walk rate for the relievers has gotten a lot worse.

The table below shows the number of innings pitched for the Phillies bullpen in the last two seasons, the number of walks and the rate at which each of the teams issued walks per nine innings and how those numbers rank in the NL for that year:

Year IP NL Rank BB NL Rank BB/9 NL Rank
2011 74 1/3 16 36 6 4.36 14
2010 421 16 177 12 3.78 8

So in both 2010 and 2011, the Phillies are at the bottom of the NL in terms of innings pitched by their relievers, but the rate at which their relievers have issued walks per nine innings has gone from the middle of the pack in 2010 to the bottom of it in 2011.

In looking to explain the problems with the walk rate for the bullpen in the early going, you have to look at Kendrick and Herndon. That duo has combined to walk 15 in 23 2/3 innings pitched, which is way too many. If you remove the numbers for Kendrick and Herndon, the bullpen is allowing walks at a very similar rate to 2010 — 3.78 per nine innings in 2010 and 3.73 for the non-Kendrick and Herndon pitchers in 2011.

Kendrick in particular is a guy whose walks we should be watching. He was fantastic as a 22-year-old in 2007. In that year he walked just 25 in 121 innings, about 1.86 per nine innings, and threw to a 3.87 ERA with a 1.27 ratio. Since the end of 2007, he’s allowed 2.95 walks per inning and thrown to a 4.86 ERA with a 1.47 ratio. So far in 2011 he’s walked eight in 13 innings, although four of the eight walks that he’s allowed have been intentional. He leads all pitchers in either league in intentional walks and is tied for 201st in innings pitched.

Cole Hamels (3-1, 3.13) faces righty Livan Hernandez (3-2, 3.23) tonight as Jayson Werth and the Nationals come to Philadelphia. Righties have done nothing with Hernandez this season — they’re hitting 230/284/297 against him for the year without a home run. He faced the Phils on April 12 and held them to a run over 6 2/3 innings. Blanton struggled in that game and Washington won 7-3. Hamels was hit hard by the Mets in his first start of the year and was charged with six runs in 2 2/3 innings. Since then he’s made four starts in which he’s thrown to a 1.55 ERA with an 0.90 ratio and struck out 31 in 29 innings. He’s gone at least seven innings in each of his last four starts.

Someone might know when Chase Utley will return, but it’s not me. According to this article, Utley played in a “semi-simulated” game on Sunday that involved running, fielding and, and I swear I’m not making this up, sitting in the dugout. So at least we can cross that milestone off the list. If he can just break through the drinking with a straw barrier we could see him any day now. It’s probably best if you just read the article, cause I promise I have no idea. I do think someone needs to consider calling, um, balderdash on the “semi-simulated” game, though, cause I’m not convinced that’s really a thing.

Ditto the having no idea on Domonic Brown, who is now hitting 333/385/625 between Clearwater and Lehigh Valley in his first 24 at-bats back.

This says that Oswalt could start on Saturday against the Braves.


Bullpen market

Here’s some lefties that have pitched for the Phils this spring who, even if they don’t have much of a chance to pitch out of the pen for the Phils at the start of the season, sure won’t be in the starting rotation.

Spring IP Spring ERA Spring ratio Career IP Career ERA Career ratio
JC Romero 3 0.00 1.00 624 2/3 4.08 1.49
Antonio Bastardo 1 0.00 0.00 42 1/3 5.53 1.49
Mike Zagurski 4 2.25 1.25 28 1/3 6.99 1.73
Ryan Feierabend 3 3.00 1.67 106 7.22 1.80
Dan Meyer 3 6.00 1.33 113 2/3 5.46 1.55
Juan Perez 3 3.00 1.33 15 2/3 5.17 1.79

Of those guys, Romero is a lock to make the team and Bastardo and Zagurski seem to have a huge advantage over the other candidates. Despite having three fewer appearances, I would guess it’s still advantage Bastardo at this point.

Also, the career numbers on those guys sure are ugly.

Yesterday the Phils topped the Tigers 5-3 to improve to 7-6 in spring action.

Blanton got the start for the Phils and went five innings, allowing two runs on five hits and a pair of walks. He’s thrown to a 3.09 ERA with a 1.11 ratio over 11 2/3 innings in three starts.

Madson, Romero and Herndon followed him with scoreless innings before Zagurski allowed a run on a double, a single and two walks in the ninth.

Romero hasn’t walked a batter in three innings so far. Madson’s allowed one hit in three shutout frames and Herndon has given up two hits and two walks over four scoreless innings.

Brian Schneider homered for the Phils, a three-run shot in the second. It was his second home run of the spring. Jeff Larish also connected for a solo shot, he’s 2-for-10 with a double and a home run.

Ibanez went 2-for-3 with a double, raising his average to .240. Martinez 0-for-2 and hitting .174. Rivero 0-for-1 and hitting .308. Dewlyn Young 1-for-3, raising his average to .321 after 28 at-bats. No Phillie has more plate appearances than Young this spring — he, Polanco and Rollins all have 30.

I think it’s a lot more likely that Delwyn Young is going to start the year with the Phillies than I did a few weeks ago. I do wish we were seeing more of Josh Barfield in official games — he’s 5-for-10 with a walk and a double. I think both those guys are better bets to help the Phils than Martinez or Rivero.

Halladay starts today against the Yankees.

I don’t know when you’re going to see Chase Utley playing baseball next, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be soon. In the linked article, Amaro says, “We don’t know exactly when he is going to be playing for us, but I expect him to be playing for us at some point — hopefully in the early part of the season, maybe even the beginning of the season.” That’s not good.

Amaro says that Utley would be replaced by Wilson Valdez if needed in this article. There’s some drop off there, given that Valdez has a career on-base percentage of .289 and never had 150 plate appearances in a season coming into last year.

The Phillies have come to a deal with Charlie Manuel that will keep him managing the team through 2013.

This says that the Phillies hadn’t contacted the Rangers about Michael Young as of yesterday morning. Moving Polanco to second and trying to get a third baseman makes a lot more sense to me than trying to get a second baseman.


Don’t walk

Remember this? Earlier this month I pointed out that the 2010 Phillies called on their relievers to throw fewer innings than any NL team had over the past five seasons. That’s not the only remarkable achievement of the pitching staff, however.

In 2010, Phillies pitchers combined to walk 416 batters on the season. That was the not only the fewest number of walks issued by a National League team in 2010, but the fewest number of walks issued by an NL team since 1995.

The table below shows the NL team that walked the fewest batters in each of the past 16 seasons:

Year Team Walks
2010 PHI 416
2009 STL 460
2008 ARI 451
2007 SD 474
2006 CIN 464
2005 HOU 440
2004 SD 422
2003 MON 463
2002 ARI 421
2001 NYM 438
2000 ATL 484
1999 HOU 478
1998 HOU 465
1997 ATL 450
1996 ATL 451
1995 NYM 401

In 1995, the Expos also issued 416 walks, finishing second in the league in the category.

In 2010, it wasn’t close. The Phillies walked 416 batters for the year. The team that issued the second-fewest number of walks overall was the Cardinals — they walked 477.

Charlie Manuel continues to talk as if John Mayberry has a real chance to get significant time in right field this season. Ross Gload notably does not appear on his list of potential right fielders.


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