Rotation

What’s whatever the opposite of the matter is here?

The Phillies went 45-57 in their first 102 games this year before trading two of their better hitters and replacing them with lesser offensive players. After they did, the team took off, going 21-14 in their 35 games since the deals sent Victorino and Pence packing.

So what’s going on?

What’s going on is that since the Phillies traded Victorino and Pence, the offense has gotten worse. Just like you would expect. But. The pitching has gotten enormously better. Enough better to offset the offensive dropoff and carry the team.

Here’s a look at some of the numbers since the Phillies traded Victorino and Pence:

W-L RS/Gm RA/Gm SP ERA SP Ratio RP ERA RP Ratio
Thru 7/29 45-57 4.20 4.56 4.07 1.24 4.53 1.38
After 7/29 21-14 4.09 3.51 3.02 1.15 4.08 1.14
Total 66-71 4.17 4.29 3.80 1.22 4.42 1.32

The Phillies scored 4.20 runs per game before they traded Victorino and Pence. In the games they’ve played since they traded them, they’ve scored 4.09 runs per game.

The Phillies were 12th in the NL in runs scored in August and went 17-12. They went 17-12 not because they were a good offensive team, but because they were fourth in the league in runs allowed.

In the games that the Phillies played before trading Victorino and Pence, they allowed an average of 4.56 runs per game. Since they traded that duo, they’ve cut more than a run off of that. They’ve allowed 3.51 runs per game in the 35 games they’ve played since Victorino and Pence left. Going into today’s games, the Nationals were the NL team that had allowed the fewest runs per game in 2012 with 3.56 per game.

So 3.51 per game is impressive.

The bullpen has been better over the past 35 games than they were over the first 102, dropping more than half a run off of their ERA while their ratio has plummeted. Remember that they were terrible for a long time there, though, and the 4.08 ERA they’ve thrown to in the last 35 games isn’t exactly fantastic. If the Phillie bullpen had thrown to a 4.08 ERA for the entire year, that would be eleventh-best in the NL. As it is, their 4.42 bullpen ERA overall is twelfth-best.

The improvement in preventing runs has a lot more to do with the starting pitching than it does the relievers. Two points on what the relievers have done over the past 35 games, though, as they have thrown to a very impressive 1.14 ratio:

  • Over the last 35 games, the relievers have allowed just 59 hits in 86 innings. That’s an amazingly low hit rate of 6.17 hits per nine innings. Going into today’s games, Cincinnati’s bullpen had the lowest rate of hits allowed per nine innings for the season in the league at 7.27.
  • They have walked a ton of hitters in the same 35 games — 39 in 86 innings. That’s a walk rate of 4.08 per nine innings. Going into today’s games, only three NL teams had seen their relievers walk more than four batters per nine. The Dodgers had walked 4.07 per nine, the Brewers 4.18 and the Cubs 4.56 (Chicago relievers had walked 201 hitters in 396 2/3 innings). Here’s the list of Phillie relievers with a walk rate of 4.19 per nine or worse for the season: Schwimer, Sanches, Horst, Aumont, Bastardo, Stutes, Diekman, Rosenberg, Lindblom, De Fratus. Those ten pitchers have combined to throw 165 1/3 innings for the Phillies this year in which they have allowed 96 walks. That’s a walk rate of 5.23 per nine.

Again, the improvement overall in preventing runs has a lot more to do with what the starters have done than what the relievers have. The starters throw more than 70% of the innings for one thing, so even if the improvement of each of the groups had been about the same, the impact of the improvement by the starters would be much greater.

But the starters have improved more in the past 35 games than the relievers.

Here’s a look at what the guys in the rotation did before and after the trades of Victorino and Pence:

GS

IP

H

R

ER

BB

K

ERA

Ratio

Hamels

20

138.67

121

56

51

39

138

3.31

1.15

Blanton

20

132.67

139

73

67

18

115

4.55

1.18

Lee

17

118.33

119

53

52

23

112

3.95

1.20

thru 7/29

Worley

17

102.00

109

49

44

36

91

3.88

1.42

Halladay

14

89.33

88

43

43

16

72

4.33

1.16

Kendrick

13

75.33

82

42

38

25

55

4.54

1.42

Valdes

1

2.00

2

3

3

2

2

13.50

2.00

Total

102

658.33

660

319

298

159

585

4.07

1.24

GS

IP

H

R

ER

BB

K

ERA

Ratio

Halladay

7

48.00

43

16

16

9

37

3.00

1.08

Lee

7

50.33

49

16

14

3

49

2.50

1.03

Kendrick

7

42.67

37

15

14

7

28

2.95

1.03

after 7/29

Hamels

6

44.67

39

12

11

8

40

2.22

1.05

Worley

6

31.00

45

20

18

11

16

5.23

1.81

Cloyd

2

13.00

11

4

4

2

14

2.77

1.00

Total

35

229.67

224

83

77

40

184

3.02

1.15

Over the first 102 games of the season, Hamels was the only pitcher on the team who started at least one game for the Phillies and threw to an ERA under 3.88. Over the last 35 games, the rotation as a group has thrown to a 3.02 ERA.

Worley hasn’t been good in his six starts since the Phillies traded away Victorino and Pence. In the 29 starts not made by Worley since the trades, though, the rotation has a 2.67 ERA with a 1.05 ratio — every one of the five guys who has started at least one of those games has been very good. That group includes Halladay, Hamels, Lee and, more surprisingly, Kendrick and Cloyd.

The Phillies are going to win a huge percentage of their games in which their starters throw to the 3.02 ERA and a 1.15 ratio like they have since the trade. The Nationals have the best rotation in the NL in 2012 — they’ve thrown to 3.25 ERA for the year with a 1.17 ratio. In 2011, you may remember, the Phillies won 102 games behind a fantastic starting rotation. That group led the league with a 2.86 ERA and a 1.11 ratio. Nobody else was close — the Giant rotation had the second-best starter ERA for the year at 3.28.


Phils not making it easy on whoever is in charge of naming employee of the month

Here’s a look at the record for the Philies, how many runs they’ve scored and allowed per game and the ERA and ratio their starters and bullpen pitched to for each month of the season so far:

Month Record RS/G RA/G SP ERA SP Rat RP ERA RP Rat
April 11-12 3.30 3.39 2.77 1.09 3.81 1.33
May 16-13 5.00 4.59 4.05 1.22 5.23 1.34
June 9-19 4.43 5.21 4.99 1.36 4.32 1.47
July 5-8 3.62 4.62 3.45 1.19 7.20 1.43

The Phillies are over .500 in just one month this season. They went 16-13 in May. A miserable June was the worst month of the season as they went 9-19.

The offense was solid in May and June. The Phils were third in the NL in runs scored in May and sixth in June. Twelfth in April and fourteenth so far in July.

Early in the year they were doing very well at preventing runs, but have dropped off significantly since April. Fourth in the NL in runs allowed in April, tenth in May, thirteenth in June and fourteenth so far in July.

The starting pitching was good in April. That’s about it. The numbers overall for July are okay — starters threw to a 4.70 ERA in the first six games of July, but have been good lately, throwing to a 2.45 ERA with a 1.09 ratio over the last seven games.

The first part of May, about the first half, was good for the starters as well. From May 1 to May 18, the Phillies went 10-7 and their starters pitched to a 3.13 ERA with a 1.09 ratio.

From May 18 to the end of June, the starting pitchers threw to a 5.34 ERA with a 1.38 ratio. The Phillies went 15-25 in those games.

The bullpen had its best month in April. A 3.81 ERA and a 1.33 ratio might look good compared to the rest of that chart, but it isn’t that good compared to the rest of the league. For the year, the average NL team has seen their relievers throw to a 3.86 ERA with a 1.36 ratio. A 3.81 bullpen ERA for the year would be ninth-best in the NL at this point. The Padres are eight-best with a 3.56 ERA and the Rockies ninth-best at 4.09.

Since the end of April, the bullpen has a 5.17 ERA and a 1.41 ratio.

Since June 12, the bullpen has a 6.15 ERA and a 1.58 ratio over 31 games.


Last 22 a bust for the Phils

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:

W L SP IP SP IP/G ERA Ratio
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
GS IP ERA Ratio GS IP ERA Ratio
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.


52 dropoff

After 52 games, the Phillies are 27-25 and in last place in the NL East. Their 2011 campaign, which ended with 102 wins and the best record in baseball, seems like it was a long time ago.

Here’s what the Phillies did through and after game 52 in 2011 and through 52 games in 2012:

Games 1-52 Games 53-162
W L RS/G RA/G W L RS/G RA/G
2011 33 19 4.13 3.25 69 41 4.53 3.27
2012 27 25 4.25 4.06 - - - -

The biggest news for me there is that the 2012 Phillies have outscored the 2011 Phillies through the first 52 games of the season. In 2011, the Phillies were fourth in the NL in runs scored in April and 12th in May. In 2012, they were 12th in April and 4th in May.

Overall, though, they scored more runs in their first 52 games of 2012 than they did in 2011, plating 221 runs so far in 2012 after having scored 215 in the first 52 games of 2011.

The 2012 Phils fared well with the bats in May, but it’s easier to forget how badly they struggled in the same month in 2011. Rollins hit .242 and on-based .306 in 134 plate appearances. Howard hit 208/317/434 over 123. Polanco on-based .289 and slugged .294 at third. Mayberry and Francisco were both terrible — Mayberry got 80 plate appearances and put up a 194/275/319 line while Francisco hit 167/315/300 in his 74.

Important to remember is that the offense got way better after 52 games for the Phils in 2011. In games 53-162, they plated 4.53 runs per game, more than they had through the first 52 games of the year and more than the ’12 Phils have through the first 52 games of the year.

The Phillies ended 2011 having allowed the fewest runs in the National League by an enormous margin. They allowed 529 and the Giants were second having allowed 578. They 578 runs that the Giants allowed is about 3.57 per game — a lot worse than the Phillies allowed in either the first 52 games of 2011 or games 53-162.

The 2012 Phillies are on pace to allow 657 runs.

Early in 2011, the Phillies got outstanding performances from both their starters and relievers. In the first 52 games of 2012, the starters for the Phillies have been good, probably the second or third best rotation in the NL behind the Nats and maybe the Dodgers, but their bullpen has been atrocious.

Here’s how the numbers compare for 2011 and 2012 for games 1-52:

SP IP SP ERA SP Ratio RP IP RP ERA RP Ratio
2011 338 3.17 1.17 141 1/3 2.67 1.27
2012 341 1/3 3.48 1.16 126 4.64 1.33

The starting and relief pitching for the Phillies in 2012 were both worse than they were in the first 52 games of 2011. The starters were worse and the pen has been a whole lot worse.

One thing we need to understand about the 2012 Phillies is that they have, to this point a least, a terrible bullpen.

Also, looking at the 2011 Phillies, after game 52, the pen got worse but the starters, which were already better than the 2012 starters through 52, got a whole lot better.

In games 53-162, the starters for the Phils combined to throw to a 2.71 ERA with a 1.08 ratio. The relievers threw to a 3.85 ERA with a 1.34 ratio. The starters threw a whole lot more innings (about 72.8% of the innings games 53-162) so the overall numbers come out great for the Phils when you combine starters and relievers after game 52. In games 53-162, the Phillies overall threw to a 3.02 ERA. For the season in 2011, the Phils led the NL in ERA and the Giants were second at 3.20. The 2011 Phillies threw to the same 3.02 ERA in games 1-52, but without the huge gap in the performance between the starters and the relievers.

So far in 2012, the Phillies have thrown to a 3.79 ERA, which is seventh-best in the NL.

Finally, the fact that the bullpen is terrible in 2012 surely hasn’t been lost on the Phillies and Charlie Manuel. In 2011, Phillies relievers threw the fewest innings in the NL with 412 1/3. Through the first 52 games of 2012, they have thrown 126 innings, which is again the fewest in the NL and puts them on pace to throw about 392 2/3 for the season. I have written about how few innings the bullpen throws for recent Phillies teams often over the last couple of years, including this post and this one. So far in 2012, the number of bullpen innings continues to drop.

And that’s a surprise to me, given who’s starting for the Phils in 2012. Here’s a look at who started the first 52 games for the Phillies in 2011 compared to who started the first 52 in 2012:

Pitcher Starts games 1-52 in 2011 Starts games 1-52 in 2012
Halladay 11 11
Hamels 11 10
Lee 11 8
Oswalt 8 0
Blanton 6 10
Worley 3 7
Kendrick 2 6

In the first 52 games of 2011, 41 of the starts (78.8%) were made Halladay, Hamels, Lee or Oswalt. In 2012, just 29 of the first 52 starts (about 55.8%) were made by that group of four, yet the 2012 starters went deeper into games and the bullpen pitched less (although much, much worse).

Looking closer at the numbers, most of the guys in the rotation this year have simply pitched deeper into games than they did in 2011. Oswalt also averaged just 5.63 innings per start in his first eight starts of 2011. Halladay’s innings per starts over the first 52 games are down in 2012, thanks in large part to a two-inning outing his last time out, but just about everyone else is up. Of the six guys who have made starts for the Phillies in 2012, all six have averaged at least six innings per start and everyone other than Halladay who started in both 2011 and 2012 have gone deeper into games this season.

When you compare the 2011 Phillies to what the 2012 Phillies have done to this point, the bottom line is that the 2011 Phillies created an enormous advantage relative to the rest of the league by preventing runs. The 2012 Phillies don’t have that advantage and it’s not close. The 2011 Phils threw to the best ERA in the league by a wide margin and led the league in fewest runs allowed by a wide margin. The 2012 Phils are seventh in ERA and eighth in runs allowed. The 2011 Phils also saw their offense take off after game 52, a step forward it’s not clear how the 2012 Phillies are going to make.


Starter’s start

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.


Doing less with more

In the past several posts I have pointed out that the Phillies starting pitchers, and Halladay, Hamels and Lee in particular, were exceptional at preventing walks in 2011.

As you know, their exceptionalness made for some nice walk numbers for the Phillie starting pitchers last year. In 2011, Phillie starting pitchers faced more batters than any other National League team. They also walked fewer batters than any NL team.

Team Batters Faced Walks % BB
PHI 
ARI 
STL 
WSN 
MIL 
FLA 
NYM 
CIN 
LAD 
SDP 
ATL 
PIT 
HOU 
CHC 
SFG 
COL 
TOT
4318
4214
4242
3948
4160
4033
4215
4139
4119
4034
4043
4019
4174
4098
4172
4082
66010
221
276
278
266
301
292
315
312
314
311
312
315
355
353
362
373
4956
5.1%
6.5%
6.6%
6.7%
7.2%
7.2%
7.5%
7.5%
7.6%
7.7%
7.7%
7.8%
8.5%
8.6%
8.7%
9.1%
7.5%

After the Phillies, the Cardinals were the team whose starting pitchers faced the next highest number of hitters. They faced 266 fewer hitters than the starting pitchers for the Phillies. The Nats were the team whose starters threw the second-fewest number of walks — they walked 45 more than the Phils.

The average NL team saw their starters walk about 7.5% of the batters they faced. Phillies started walked about 5.1% of them. By percentage of batters faced that walked, the Diamondbacks were the second-best rotation at preventing walks — Arizona started faced 104 fewer batters in 2011 and walked 55 more.

The Astros hammered the Phillies 10-3 yesterday, dropping the Phils to 2-3 in Spring Training.

Worley started for the Phils and allowed two runs in two innings on five hits and a walk. Pat Misch was next. He threw a scoreless third before allowing four runs in the fourth, three of which were unearned because of a two-out throwing error by Frandsen at third. Papelbon allowed a triple and a walk in the fifth, but kept the Astros off the board. Willis was next and he got hit hard for his second time in two tries, charged with four runs on three hits and two walks while getting just two outs. Rosenberg, Qualls and Stutes finished it out, combining to throw 3 1/3 shutout innings.

Nice to see Qualls and Stutes both put up some zeroes after each were hit hard in their first official Spring Training appearance.

Willis says he’s sore and tired in this article. Rich Dubee also says the Phils won’t carry two left-handed relievers for the sake of having more than one lefty in the pen. In two outings so far, Willis has allowed five runs in 1 2/3 innings on five hits and three walks (that’s a 27.00 ERA and a 4.80 ratio — opponents have hit .500 against him).

The Phillies had five hits in the game. Podsednik doubled in his only at-bat of the day, his third double already, and is 4-for-8 so far. Lou Montanez was 1-for-2 with a double. Hector Luna homered yet again — 3-for-7 with a double and a home run in official action with another homer in unofficial action against FSU.

Frandsen started at third and went 0-for-4 with an error. 1-for-12 with nightmareish defense so far. Nix is still looking for his first hit — he’s 0-for-9 after going 0-for-3 yesterday.

The Phillies play the Pirates this afternoon with Hamels and Bush expected to pitch.

Harold Garcia, he of the 40-man roster, had surgery on his right knee and will miss four to six months.

Thome will play first base in a minor league game on Monday. The same article says that Laynce Nix had “been bothered with a sore muscle near his left groin.”


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