Quality is a start

Continuing down the Start Log is more information on quality starts. Here’s some info on quality starts by Phillies pitchers over the past three seasons:

2012 2011 2010
% of starts QS 61.1 66.7 58.0
% of starts not QS 38.9 33.3 42.0
Record in QS 62-37 (.626) 83-25 (.769) 69-25 (.734)
Record in not QS 19-44 (.302) 19-35 (.352) 28-40 (.412)
ERA in QS 2.02 1.65 1.66
Ratio in QS 0.97 0.94 0.94
ERA in not QS 7.61 6.25 7.21
Ratio in not QS 1.74 1.59 1.67

So the percentage of starts the Phillies made that were quality starts in 2012 is down from 2011, but higher than it was in 2010. The quality starts they did get were worse than in either of the two previous years and the non-quality starts they got were also worse than they have been in either of the two previous years.

Most importantly, though, the team’s results in 2012 were a whole lot worse in games when they either got or didn’t get a quality start. Their winning percentage in quality starts in 2012 was .626. Their winning percentage in all games in 2011, whether they got a quality start or not, was .630. The .626 winning percentage in quality starts in 2012 was .143 lower than their winning percentage in quality starts in 2011 and .108 lower than their winning percentage in quality starts in 2010.

For non-quality starts, the winning percentage is down .050 from 2011 and .110 from 2010.

The drop in all of those winning percentages obviously has more than a little to do with the offense. The Phillies were eighth in the NL in runs scored in 2012, seventh in 2011 and second in 2010.

Jimmy Rollins appears to be the shortstop for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Gillies, Aumont and Orr will play for Team Canada. The WBC starts on March 2. It has been held twice before, in 2006 and 2009, with Japan winning both times. USA’s best finish has been fourth (in 2009).

This article suggests that Cody Asche could be the team’s third baseman in 2014. It’s going to surprise me if the Phillies give him the everyday job in 2014. It’s going to surprise me a little if he gets more than a handful of at-bats for the Phillies in 2014, actually. Asche has two years in the minors so far. In one of them he hit .192 in 268 plate appearances in the New York-Penn League.

Article on 22-year-old right-handed pitcher Kyle Simon here. Simon joined the Phillies last year in the Thome deal. He had struggled in Baltimore’s minors in 2012, but threw to a 1.36 ERA with an 0.71 ratio in 39 2/3 innings between Clearwater and Reading after joining the Phils.

Fans hold out hope that 2012 Halladay and maybe all of 2012 turn out not to have been real, either

And our outfield, too. Don’t forget that.

Moving down the blue band in the middle of the Start Log for 2012, you’ll find the section on quality starts. The biggest surprise from 2012 in that area is that Halladay made 25 starts for the Phillies in 2012 and only 15, 60%, were quality starts.

Here’s the percentage of starts that Halladay, Hamels, Lee and everybody else have made over the past three

2012 2011 2010
Halladay 25 60.0 32 78.1 25 75.8
Hamels 31 74.2 31 77.4 21 63.6
Lee 30 70.0 32 78.1 - -
Everyone else 76 52.6 67 50.7 96 50.1

So all three of Halladay, Hamels and Lee delivered quality starts in a lower percentage of outings in 2012 than they did in 2011. But Hamels and Lee were down a little and Halladay was down a lot. Over the last three seasons, the trio of Halladay, Hamels and Lee have combined to make a quality start in 72.5% of their outings. From 2012 to 2011, the percentage for that group dropped from 77.9% to 68.6%, thanks mostly to Halladay’s drop.

Notably, over the past three years, the percentage of quality starts delivered by pitchers other than Halladay, Hamels and Lee has had a very slender range, between 50.0% and 52.6%. Since 2010, the only pitcher to make quality starts in 60% or more of his starts in any year is Oswalt. Oswalt made quality starts in 60.9% of his 23 starts in 2011 and 75% (9 of 12) in 2010.

One final thought on quality starts and Vance Worley. Whether it was due to his enormously high BABIP or not, Worley was worse in 2012 than he was in 2011. His walk and home run rates stayed about the same while his hit rate skyrocketed and his ERA went from 3.01 in 2011 to 4.20 in 2012. In 2012, the Phillies went 9-14 in the games that Worley started. In 2011, they were 16-5. But for the two years, the percentage of Worley’s starts that were quality starts stayed the about the same — 56.5% in 2012 and 57.1% in 2011.

The Phillies and 33-year-old righty Aaron Cook apparently have a deal and Cook will try to make the team as a NRI. Cook has been awful over the last three years, throwing to a 5.54 ERA in 318 2/3 innings with the Rockies and Red Sox. Prior to 2010, Cook had had four straight years in which he threw at least 150 innings with an ERA+ better than 110.

This article reminds that Ryan Vogelsong was with the Phillies in spring training in 2010. He made two official spring training appearances, allowing six runs in three innings. Didn’t make the team. Went to Triple-A and threw to a 4.91 ERA in 25 appearances and was released in July. Was picked up by the Giants in time to make 61 appearances between 2011 and 2012, 59 starts, in which he threw to a 3.05 ERA with a 1.24 ratio. In 2011 he was an All-Star and finished eleventh in NL Cy Young voting.

AbsoluteLee unexpected

The Phillies went 12-18 in Cliff Lee’s starts last year, which was odd given that Lee was in the top ten in the NL in ERA, ratio, strikeouts and WAR for pitchers. While Lee was off his outstanding 2011 pace, he was still very good and a lot had to go wrong for the Phillies in his starts for them to go 12-18. A lot did.

Here are some of the lowlights:

  • The Phillies scored 3.60 runs per game in the games started by Lee and 4.36 in the games he did not start. They scored a total of three runs in the first three games he started in 2012 and a total of three runs in the last three games he started in 2012 and the Phils went 0-6 in those games. 3.60 runs per game of offense in their starts is the worst mark for any starting pitcher who started more than one game for the team in ’12 (although Worley was close behind at 3.61 runs of offense per game he started).
  • The Phillies went 10-11 in the 21 games in which Lee delivered a quality start. In those 21 games he threw to a 1.86 ERA with an 0.97 ratio. The Phillies went 52-26 in quality starts that were made by any pitcher other than Lee.
  • The bullpen pitched to a 4.82 ERA with a 1.43 ratio in the 30 games that Lee started. In the 132 games that he didn’t start, the bullpen pitched to a 3.79 ERA with a 1.27 ratio.

So Lee was good, the offense was bad, the bullpen was bad and even when Lee pitched well the Phillies didn’t win. There’s got to be more than a little plain old bad luck in there as well. You wouldn’t expect your team to go 10-11 in the games where their starting pitcher throws to a 1.86 ERA and a ratio under one.

Seven of the 18 games the Phillies lost that Lee started were one-run games.

The Phillies were 4-12 in the first 16 games that Lee started. Over those 16 starts, the Phils managed to lose a game in which Lee threw 10 shutout innings, another in which he struck out 12 while allowing two runs over 7 2/3 innings and a third in which he allowed a run on two hits and a walk over eight frames.

That’s not to say Lee excelled at all times during those first 16 starts. That simply wasn’t the case. Most notably, from June 10 to June 29 (outings 10 to 13 on the year), Lee made four starts bad starts in a row, throwing to a 7.30 ERA in those outings and puffing his ERA on the year from 2.92 to 4.13. After June 29, Lee pitched to a 2.44 ERA over his last 17 starts and the Phils went 9-8 in those games.

Bastardo filed for arbitration yesterday.

The Nats appear to have agreed to a deal with right-handed reliever Rafael Soriano that will pay Soriano $28 million over the next two years. Soriano has been very good in two of the last three years.

This suggests that the Phillies may have interest in right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb. It doesn’t suggests that Webb has become an outfielder. Now 33, Webb had six good years with the Diamondbacks from 2003 to 2008, throwing to a 3.24 ERA over 198 appearances, 197 of which were starts. He has been slowed by shoulder problems since, throwing just 16 innings between the majors and minors since the start of 2009.

The Phillies signed Juan Cruz to a minor league deal. Love this move. I’ve always been a huge fan of Cruz. I forget why, cause his results haven’t been especially good and he walks too many hitters to be consistently successful. Cruz is a 34-year-old right-handed pitcher with a 4.05 ERA and a 1.41 career ratio in 655 innings over 13 years. He’s had several miserable years, including 2003, 2005 and 2009. Over the last three years, he’s made 104 appearances, all in relief, and thrown to a 3.41 ERA with a 1.51 ratio. In 89 2/3 innings, he’s walked 51. His walk rate for his career is 4.8 batters per nine innings. The years when he’s been good he still walked a ton of people, just didn’t allow many hits.

Log jog

I finalized the Start Log for 2012.

I think there’s some interesting stuff there that reminds a lot about what went wrong for the Phillies in 2012.

Looking at the blue band in the middle and starting at the top, we see the team’s record by starting pitcher. Some highlights:

  • The Phillies went 14-11 in Halladay’s starts in 2012. Coming into the season, in Halladay’s two years with the Phils the team was 46-19 in the games he started.
  • 21-10 in games started by Hamels, by far the best mark of any pitcher on the team. The Phils finished the year 81-81, so that means they were 60-71 when someone other than Hamels started. That’s a little remarkable given that two of the team’s other starters were Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay.
  • In 2011, the Phillies won 15 or more games in the starts made by four different pitchers (24-8 under Halladay, 18-13 Hamels, 22-10 Lee and 16-5 Worley). In 2012, the team only won 15 or more games in the starts made by Hamels.
  • The Phillies went 23-32 when Lee or Worley started. They were 38-15 in starts by that duo in 2011 (22-10 when Lee started and 16-5 when Worley started). In 2011, the Phillies had a better record in Worley’s 21 starts (16-5 for a .762 winning percentage) than they did in Halladay’s starts (24-8, .750).
  • Despite a nice year from Kendrick, the team was still just 11-14 in the games he started. The Phillies went 1-9 in the first ten games in which Kendrick appeared in 2012 — he started five of those games and appeared in relief in the other five. Over the last two season the Phils are 30-41 in games in which Kendrick appeared and 18-22 in the 40 games that he started.
  • 11-9 in the Blanton starts. The Blanton era ends in Philly with good results for the team. He made exactly 100 starts for the Phils between 2008 and 2012 with the Phillies going 58-42 in the games that he started. Since 2008, the Phillies have won about as many games that were started by Blanton (58) as they have games started by Halladay (60). Blanton has made 100 starts for the Phils over the last five seasons while Halladay has made 90. Hamels is the only pitcher who has started more games that the Phillies won over the past five season — they are 92-68 in games started by Hamels since the beginning of ’08.

The Phillies have signed 37-year-old right-handed pitcher Rodrigo Lopez to a minor league deal. Lopez made seven appearances with the Phillies in 2009, ending the year with a 5.70 ERA. He had a 3.09 ERA with a 1.37 ratio through his first four starts and took a 3.99 ERA into his final appearance of the season on August 9. Lopez allowed six runs in two-thirds of an inning in that game, which was also memorable because Shane Victorino was ejected for arguing balls and strikes while he was in center field with the other team batting. Lopez will try to make the team in spring training as an NRI.

This mailbag from the Phillies web site mentions Humberto Quintero and Zach Miner as top candidates to make the team to start the year among the non-roster invitees. I will be surprised if Miner makes the team to start the year and surprised if Qunitero does not. The same article suggests the possibility of bringing Delmon Young to the Phillies and mentions his “baggage” as one of the reasons that might be difficult. Another is he is a bad defensive outfielder and has had two bad years offensively in a row. The mailbag also guesses that Cloyd will start the year in Triple-A.

This article suggests that the Phillies could easily be in rebuilding mode by July. The Phils would have a real tough time rebuilding if they weren’t able to trade Howard, Utley and Halladay. I would guess they would have some difficulty trading Howard at this point unless they were willing to pay a whole lot of his salary.

Hit parade

So just who on the Phillies did John Lannan plunk? A review.

July 26, 2007. Lannan faced the Phillies in his major league debut. The Phillies led 3-2 going into the bottom of the fifth. Victorino grounded to second for the first out in the frame before Lannan hit Utley in the hand, breaking it. He then hit Howard in the back and was ejected from the game. The Phillies took a 5-2 lead into the seventh inning, but the Nats scored two in the seventh and Jesus Flores hit a three-run homer off of Zagurski in the eighth. Nats won 7-6.

July 31, 2008. Lannan hit Shane Victorino, the second batter of the game for the Phillies, in the bottom of the first. The Phils went on to score eight runs charged to Lannan in 5 2/3 innings.

May 15, 2009. This game between the Nats and Phils featured five hit batters, including two by Lannan. Utley led off the top of the sixth with the Phillies down 4-1 and Lannan hit him with a pitch. Lannan got the next two before hitting Ibanez. Feliz followed with a single that scored Utley and knocked Lannan from the game. Down 6-4 in the bottom of the ninth, the Nats scored two runs off of Lidge to sent the game into extra-innings. The Phils scored four in the top of the twelfth and won 10-6.

August 1, 2010. Ryan Howard was the fourth batter of the game, coming to the plate in a scoreless tie with two down and Werth on second. Lannan drilled him on the right elbow. The elbow was x-rayed after the game and the x-rays came back negative. Howard injured his ankle running the bases and would not appear again for the Phillies until August 21.

September 27, 2010. The Phils were up 1-0 in the sixth with one down and Victorino on first when Lannan hit Utley. The Phils went on to score three runs in the frame and beat the Nats 8-0 as they clinched the NL East.

April 13, 2011. The Phillies led 2-0 in the fifth with two outs and the bases loaded. Lannan hit Howard on the right wrist, forcing in a run. Howard stayed in the game and x-rays after the game were negative. Halladay hit Nat Laynce Nix in the seventh and the Phillies won 3-2 behind a complete game, 123 pitch outing from Halladay.

May 5, 2011. Lannan hit Victorino, the second batter of the game for the Phillies in the bottom of the first inning of a scoreless tie.

June 1, 2011. Lannan hit Mayberry with one out in the top of the third and the bases empty. Mayberry is the only right-handed batter (not including the switch-hitter Victorino) to be hit by Lannan with the Phillies. Nix made a spectacular catch on a ball hit by Brown with the bases loaded to end the sixth inning in that game and the Nats went on to win 2-1.

September 26, 2012. Down 5-0, Howard led off the bottom of the second was hit by Lannan. The Nats pounded Kendrick in the game on their way to an 8-4 win.

And how did it work out for him? Not so great. It’s hard to tell if hitting batters is the cause or the symptom of problems, but, either way, his numbers overall in innings in which he has hit a Phillie batter aren’t so good. Here they are:

7/26/07 0.3 0 0 2 2 1 Utley, Howard
7/31/08 1 1 0 1 0 0 Victorino
5/15/09 0.7 1 0 2 2 2 Ibanez, Utley
8/1/10 1 3 0 1 2 2 Howard
9/27/10 0.7 2 1 1 3 3 Utley
4/13/11 1 3 0 1 2 2 Howard
5/5/11 1 0 0 1 0 0 Victorino
6/1/11 1 1 0 1 0 0 Mayberry
9/26/12 1 0 0 1 0 0 Howard
Total 7 2/3 11 1 11 11 10

Ten earned runs over 7 2/3 innings is an 11.74 ERA. Notably, he’s walked just one hitter in the 7 2/3 innings (Polanco ahead of Utley on 9/27/10), so his control has been pretty good even in the innings when he’s plunking folks. 1.57 ratio for the 7 2/3 frames.

Even leaving the Phillies wasn’t enough to save Victorino. Lannan hit four batters in 2012 — Dan Uggla, Chipper Jones, Ryan Howard and Victorino when he was with the Dodgers.

Here are his career rates of hitting Phillies, non-Phillies and some of your favorite Phillies and non-Phillies:

PA HBP % of PA
All teams 3402 30 0.8
PHI 484 11 2.3
Not PHI 2918 19 0.7
Utley 48 3 6.2
Howard 46 4 8.7
Victorino 47 3 6.4

There are four players that Lannan has hit three or more times in his career. Three of them are current or former Phils. He’s hit Howard four times and Utley, Victorino and Nate McLouth three times each.

The next update to Philliesflow will be around January 3.

So the John Lannan glass is kinda maybe half fullish and, if that’s not enough for you ingrates, there’s the chance we might, just might, be in the mix to acquire Vernon Wells

That there could solve everything.

One way to look at John Lannan’s career is that he’s had four seasons in which he’s made at least ten starts and three of them have been pretty good.

Lannan has spent parts of six different seasons in the majors from 2007 through 2012. Of those, in two, 2007 and 2012, he threw less than 40 innings. If you remove those two, that leaves you with the four years from 2008 to 2011. In each of those four years, Lannan made at least 25 starts and over those years combined he threw to a 4.00 ERA with a 1.42 ratio.

Only one of the four seasons was really bad, though, his 2010 effort in which he threw to a 4.65 ERA with a 1.56 ratio. Opponents hit .302 against him. Removing 2010, in the three other years in which he’s made ten or more starts he has a 3.83 ERA with a 1.38 ratio.

Here are the four years of his career in which he’s thrown more than 40 innings.

Year GS IP ERA Ratio
2008 31 182.0 3.91 1.34
2009 33 206.3 3.88 1.35
2010 25 143.3 4.65 1.56
2011 33 184.7 3.70 1.46
’08 to ’11 122 716.3 4.00 1.42
’08, ’09 and ’11 97 573 3.83 1.38

Remember, that’s pretty much his whole career, removing only a total of 67 1/3 innings thrown in 2008 and 2012 combined. And if you take out 2010, things look pretty okay, at least judging by his 3.83 ERA and 1.38 ratio.

So what went wrong in 2010? Not his walk rate. He walked just 7.6% of the batters that he faced, which is the lowest mark for his career and well below his career walk rate of 8.7%. It wasn’t home runs — he allowed home runs to 2.2% of the hitters he faced, which was a decrease from his mark from the two previous years and is below his career home run rate of 2.3%.

What he did do was allow a lot more hits.

IP AB H Opp Avg H/9 % of PA H
2010 143 1/3 580 175 .302 11.0 27.2
Career 783 2/3 3,018 820 .272 9.4 24.1
Not 2010 640 1/3 2,438 645 .265 9.1 23.4
’08, ’09 and ’11 573 2,184 576 .264 9.0 23.4

So his hit rate skyrocketed in 2010. But so did his batting average for balls in play. Coming into 2010, Lannan had thrown 423 innings over three seasons. His Baseball-Reference calculated BABIP for those three years is .275 with a range of .272 to .277 (.277 in 2007, .272 in 2008 and .277 again in 2009). In 2010 it was .322.

The other thing about Lannan’s BABIP is that after it took off in 2010, it stayed up. .301 in 2011 and .314 in 2012. From 2007 to 2009, opponents hit .261 against Lannan with a BABIP of .275. From 2010 through 2012, opponents hit .284 against him with a BABIP of .311.

Also important to remember is that Lannan’s best year by ERA, 2011, when he put up a 3.70, is far from his best year in the majors. He’s going to have trouble keeping his ERA at that level with a 1.46 ratio and we should all be hoping he can bring his ratio down to 2008 and ’09 levels. Opponents hit .272 against him in ’11 and his walk rate of 3.7 batters per nine was above his career mark of 3.4.

Another thing that odd about Lannan is his recent history around giving up home runs. He hasn’t allowed one in his last 11 starts. Between August 13, 2011 and August 31, 2011, Lannan allowed five home runs in 21 innings for the Nationals. Since then he’s made 11 starts, throwing 57 1/3 innings without allowing a home run.

This article suggests that the Phillies have Cody Ross and Vernon Wells on their shopping list. Let’s hold out hope that either 1) it’s a really, really long list or 2) it’s a list from the 2010 off-season that somebody just recently uncovered. Wells is owed $21 million in 2013 and $21 million in 2014 and has hit 222/258/409 in 791 plate appearances over the last two years.

This article from yesterday’s Boston Globe says, “Ross has drawn considerable interest from the Braves, Phillies, Mets, Yankees, and Orioles, but nothing is close, according to a major league source.” The article also speculates on the possibility that Boston wants to trade Ellsbury, move Victorino to center and then sign Ross.

This suggests that the Phillies may be interested in acquiring left-handed reliever JP Howell. I’d be pretty surprised if the Phillies added a left-handed relief pitcher without trading away one of the six they currently have on their 40-man roster (Bastardo, Horst, Valdes, Diekman, Savery and Robles, in that order, in my opinion). Maybe they could add another fourth outfielder who can’t play center? Oh wait, they’re working on that.

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