Rotation

Up, up, up

As I pointed out in this post from last January, in 2010 the Phillies asked their relievers to throw just 421 innings. Not only was that the lowest number of innings for any NL team in 2010, but it was also the fewest number of innings any NL team had thrown since the 2005 Cardinals bullpen threw 397 2/3.

In 2011, the Phils again threw the fewest relief innings in the NL, but dropped their bullpen innings even lower to 412 1/3.

Here’s how many innings the starters and relievers have thrown for the Phils over the past ten years:

Year IP Starters IP Relievers Total IP % Starters % Relievers
2011 1064 2/3 412 1/3 1477 72.1 27.9
2010 1035 1/3 421 1456 1/3 71.1 28.9
2009 963 2/3 492 1455 2/3 66.2 33.8
2008 966 2/3 483 1449 2/3 66.7 33.3
2007 938 1/3 520 1458 1/3 64.3 35.7
2006 921 1/3 539 1460 1/3 63.1 36.9
2005 957 478 1435 66.7 33.3
2004 922 1/3 540 1/3 1462 2/3 63.1 36.9
2003 969 474 2/3 1443 2/3 67.1 32.9
2002 949 1/3 500 1/3 1449 2/3 65.5 34.5

So in 2011, 72.1% of the innings thrown by the Phillies were thrown by their starting pitchers. That’s the highest percentage it’s been for the team over the past ten years. In four of the past five seasons, the starters for the team have thrown more innings (and a higher percentage of the innings compared to the relievers) than they did in the previous season.

The percentage of innings thrown by starters presumably would have been higher in 2011 had Oswalt made more starts.

While we’re reminiscing about posts from last year, remember this one where I looked at the average number of starts the group of Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Oswalt had made over the past five seasons? I’m guessing you don’t, but the range for the group for the previous five years going into 2011 was 107-138, the average for the previous five years was 124 and the average for the three previous years was 138.

In 2011, Halladay, Lee, Hamels and Oswalt combined to make 118 starts. Halladay and Lee made 32 each, Hamels 31 and Oswalt 23. Oswalt came in to 2011 having averaged 31.6 starts a season over the past five seasons.

Charlie Manuel said that Ryan Howard had a “little setback” in his recovery. Pretty much everyone in the from trainers to GMs went all there’s-nothing-to-see-here after that.

The article linked above also points out that both Joel Piniero and Juan Pierre can ask for their release if they’re not on the major league-roster by March 31.

Forget the Howard setback-not-a-setback stuff. In the things that should absolutely terrify you category, I offer the following quote from Amaro on Juan Pierre: “He had a very, very good year last year. He had more hits than anybody on our team.” In 2011, Pierre on-based .329. He hit .279 and slugged .327, posting an OPS of .657 in a season where he got at least 700 plate appearances for the second year in a row. As I pointed out in this post, his isolated power of .049 was 146th of the 146 players in either league with 500 plate appearances. He’s really not a good choice for left field, even if you don’t have John Mayberry, Domonic Brown and Laynce Nix in your organization.

This says Cliff Lee threw on Sunday, showed no signs of an abdominal strain and will throw again tomorrow.


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.


Wow, what a not very big difference at all

Last week’s post pointed out that both the bullpen and the starters for the 2010 Phils posted a winning percentage that was .109 higher than the average winning percentage for a National League pen and rotation. The thing that seems odd about that, of course, is that the starters were great in 2010 and the bullpen was mediocre. Shouldn’t the winning percentage for the starters have been a lot better than the winning percentage for the pen, given that they shared the same excellent offense?

Whether we think the winning percentage for the relievers should have been worse or not, it wasn’t. The pen had a record of 27-17, a .614 winning percentage. The Phils had a better winning percentage in games where the pen got the decision than they did overall (97-65 overall, for a .599 winning percentage) or in the games where their starter got the decision (.593).

Given how small the number of decisions the bullpen got in 2010, a fluke seems like the best guess as to why the winning percentage was so good. The .614 winning percentage for the bullpen was third-best in the NL last year. By runs allowed per nine innings, the Phils were the eighth-best team at preventing runs. Was the difference in the ranking of the win percentage and the ranks allowed per nine innings unusual? Not really.

The table below shows the rank for runs allowed per nine innings pitched for the 16 NL teams this year, the team’s rank in that category, the bullpen winning percentage rank and the difference between the two:

Team Pen R per 9 IP Rank R per 9 IP Bullpen WPCT Rank BP WPCT Rank Difference
San Diego
San Francisco
Atlanta
Washington
NY Mets
St. Louis
Cincinnati
Philadelphia
LA Dodgers
Colorado
Florida
Houston
Milwaukee
Pittsburgh
Chicago Cubs
Arizona
3.01
3.22
3.61
3.76
3.78
3.91
4.09
4.23
4.23
4.31
4.44
4.70
4.85
4.97
5.57
6.29
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
0.600
0.674
0.627
0.482
0.491
0.474
0.557
0.614
0.581
0.481
0.405
0.511
0.463
0.523
0.357
0.333
4
1
2
10
9
12
6
3
5
11
14
8
13
7
15
16
3
-1
-1
6
4
6
-1
-5
-4
1
3
-4
0
-7
0
0

So the Phils had the eighth-best bullpen in the league by runs allowed per nine innings pitched, but the third best winning percentage. That’s a difference of five. There were three NL teams that had a bigger difference between the rankings of their runs allowed per nine innings and winning percentages. The Nats and Cardinals both had good pens with bad winning percentages. The Pirates had a miserable pen at preventing runs, but saw their relievers combine to post a 23-21 record (it wasn’t really enough to make up for the hide-your-eyes 34-84 put up by their starting pitching).

Here’s the table for the starters:

Team SP R per 9 IP Rank R per 9 IP SP WPCT Rank SP WPCT Rank Difference
San Francisco
Philadelphia
San Diego
St. Louis
Atlanta
NY Mets
Cincinnati
LA Dodgers
Chicago Cubs
Houston
Florida
Colorado
Arizona
Milwaukee
Washington
Pittsburgh
3.76
3.84
3.91
4.00
4.09
4.17
4.32
4.36
4.42
4.49
4.51
4.56
4.79
5.13
5.20
5.86
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
0.526
0.593
0.541
0.548
0.532
0.486
0.564
0.462
0.500
0.452
0.525
0.527
0.430
0.481
0.396
0.288
7
1
4
3
5
10
2
12
9
13
8
6
14
11
15
16
6
-1
1
-1
0
4
-5
4
0
3
-3
-6
1
-3
0
0

By runs allowed per nine innings pitched, the Phillies had the second-best rotation in 2010. The 70-48 mark put up by their starters gave them a league-best .593 winning percentage for the rotation. The teams that showed the biggest differences between the ranks of their winning percentage and runs allowed per nine innings pitched were the Giants, Reds and Rockies. The Giants had fantastic pitching, the best in the league, and an unimpressive offense that finished ninth in the NL in runs scored. The Reds and the Rockies are the other two teams that had the biggest differences between the rank of their runs allowed per nine innings pitched for their starters and the winning percentage for their starters. For each of those teams, the rotation’s winning percentage was much better than their rank for runs allowed per nine innings. The Reds and Colorado finished first and the third in the league in runs scored — Cincinnati led the league in runs scored and the Rockies finished third, just behind the Phils.

Here’s how the winning percentage for starters and relievers compare to the overall winning percentage for the team for each of the NL teams last season:

Team Team WPCT Pen WPCT SP WPCT Pen WPCT – Tm WPCT SP WPCT – Tm WPCT
Philadelphia
San Francisco
Atlanta
Cincinnati
San Diego
St. Louis
Colorado
Florida
LA Dodgers
NY Mets
Milwaukee
Houston
Chicago Cubs
Washington
Arizona
Pittsburgh
0.599
0.568
0.562
0.562
0.556
0.531
0.512
0.494
0.494
0.488
0.475
0.469
0.463
0.426
0.401
0.352
0.614
0.674
0.627
0.557
0.600
0.474
0.481
0.405
0.581
0.491
0.463
0.511
0.357
0.482
0.333
0.523
0.593
0.526
0.532
0.564
0.541
0.548
0.527
0.525
0.462
0.486
0.481
0.452
0.500
0.396
0.430
0.288
0.015
0.106
0.065
-0.005
0.044
-0.057
-0.031
-0.089
0.087
0.003
-0.012
0.042
-0.106
0.056
-0.068
0.171
-0.006
-0.042
-0.030
0.002
-0.015
0.017
0.015
0.031
-0.032
-0.002
0.006
-0.017
0.037
-0.030
0.029
-0.064

Using the Phillies as the example, the way to interpret the table above is that the Phils overall played to a .599 winning percentage last year, the winning percentage for their relievers was .614 and the winning percentage for their starters was .593. The bullpen winning percentage was .015 higher than the winning percentage overall for the team and the winning percentage for the starting pitchers was .006 lower than the overall winning percentage for the team.

The table shows that the Pirates were the team whose bullpen winning percentage was better than the overall winning percentage for their team by the largest margin (followed not so closely by the Giants). At the other end of the scale, the Cubs had the bullpen winning percentage that was worse than their overall team winning percentage by the most.

It was the also the Cubs who had the biggest positive gap between the winning percentage for their starters and the team overall. As was mentioned above, the Pirates starting pitchers threw to a miserable record. Pittsburgh had the biggest negative gap between the winning percentage for their starting pitchers and their team overall.

Back to the Phillies, though. The point about the Phillies is that both the difference between their winning percentage for the starting pitchers and the winning percentage for the bullpen are very small. If you take the absolute value of each of the differences, only three teams, the Mets, Brewers and Reds, had a smaller difference between the winning percentage for the bullpen and the winning percentage for the team. Only two teams, the Mets and the Reds, had a smaller difference between the winning percentage for the rotation and the winning percentage for the team. If you combine the absolute values of both, there are three teams with a smaller combined difference (Mets, Reds, Brewers). So while it is a bit surprising that the Phillies got such an impressive winning percentage out of a so-so bullpen, it may be even more remarkable that the both of their winning percentages were so similar to the team’s winning percentage overall.

In this Q&A from the Phillies web site, Todd Zolecki suggests that it might make sense for the Phils to keep Blanton in case Oswalt is not back in 2012. Blanton will make $8.5 million in 2011 and $8.5 million in 2012.

Manuel talks about the possibility that John Mayberry would start the year with the team here. I’m enthusiastic about the runs like a deer part, but less so about the .330 career on-base percentage in the minor leagues. Mayberry turned 27 in December.

Domonic Brown was fourth on the recent list of the top 50 prospects by MLB.com. He also hits left-handed, unlike Ben Francisco, and can play the outfield, unlike Ross Gload. Also runs like a deer and without the .330 career on-based percentage in the minors (.373, for the record). My concern about what the Phillies are doing in right field is that everything seems to be based on the idea of finding a stopgap in the short term to get to Brown shortly after the season starts. If Brown is ready to play regularly soon after the season starts, I don’t think it matters a whole ton what the combination of Francisco, Mayberry and Gload man right until he does. What if he’s not, though? And how much difference is another couple of weeks or months in the minors going to make? A whole season of Francisco, Gload and Mayberry in right would combine to put up some ugly numbers. If Gload has to play defense regularly in right, they would put up some real ugly defensive numbers as well.


Record tables

Here’s the bullpen record by starting pitcher for the Phils for 2010:

Pitcher Team Record in Starts W-L as SP % of starts with decision Bullpen record in starts
Halladay 22-11 21-10 93.9 1-1
Hamels 18-15 12-11 69.7 6-4
Kendrick 17-14 11-10 67.7 6-4
Blanton 17-11 9-6 53.6 8-5
Moyer 9-10 9-9 94.7 0-1
Oswalt 10-2 7-1 66.6 3-1
Happ 2-1 1-0 33.3 1-1
Worley 1-1 0-1 50.0 1-0
Figueroa 1-0 0-0 0.00 1-0
Total 97-65 70-48 72.8 27-17

The bullpen had a total of three decisions in the 52 games started by Halladay or Moyer, but 13 in the 18 games started by Blanton.

Halladay pitched well enough to win in the games he didn’t get a decision, too. On July 10, Halladay threw nine shutout innings against the Reds, but the Phillies didn’t score until the eleventh when a double by Ruiz and a walkoff single by Rollins gave them a 1-0 win. Halladay wasn’t as dominant in his other no-decision in 2010. On May 12, he allowed three runs over 6 1/3 innings against Colorado. That game was also decided in extra innings — this time when Miguel Olivo homered off of Chad Durbin in the bottom of the tenth to give the Rockies a 4-3 win (it was Olivo’s fifth hit of the game).

Moyer had a decision in each of his first 18 starts on the season. His 19th start came on July 20 and he went just one scoreless inning before leaving the game with a strained elbow. Carpenter and Baez combined to allow six runs over the next four innings and the Phils lost the game 7-1.

Overall for the season in the NL in 2010, the teams that weren’t the Phillies saw their starter get a decision in 70.5% of their starts. As you know, the Phillies had the best winning percentage in the NL last year. Here’s how the difference in winning percentage breaks down between the starting pitchers and the bullpen:

Winning percentage
PHI SP .593
All NL SP .491
NL SP other than PHI .484
PHI Pen .614
All NL Pen .541
NL Pen other than PHI .505

The Phillies starting pitchers went 70-48 for a .593 winning percentage. The starting pitchers for the other teams in the league that weren’t the Phillies went 829-884, a .484 winning percentage. So the winning percentage for the starters was .109 higher than the winning percentage for the teams in the league other than the Phils. The winning percentage for the bullpen was also .109 higher. The pen went 27-17 for a .614 winning percentage. The bullpens of every team in the league other than the Phils combined to go 362-355, a .505 winning percentage. .614 minus .505 is .109.


Phils need a little more from one of the big four

Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels have combined to make 206 starts for the Phillies over the past five years. Here’s the team record in starts by those pitchers over the past five seasons:

2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
Halladay 22-11 Hamels 16-16 Hamels 19-14 Hamels 19-9 Hamels 13-10
Hamels 18-15 Lee 8-4
Oswalt 10-2

The 206 starts haven’t been distributed at all evenly among the four. Hamels has made 149 of them, Halladay 33 and Oswalt and Lee have each made 12.

The Phils also haven’t had a lot of success with Hamels on the mound in the past couple of years.

In each of the last two years, the Phillies have had a better winning percentage in games that Hamels didn’t start than in games he did. Over the past three years combined, the Phillies are 53-45 (.541) when Hamels starts and 229-159 (.590) when he doesn’t. They also have a better winning percentage in games started by Kendrick (36-27, .571) over the past three years than in the games started by Hamels.

The mediocre record in games started by Hamels has a lot to do with them going 16-16 in the games Hamels started in 2009 when he didn’t pitch very well, but also with the offensive support that Hamels has gotten from the team. In 2008, the Phillies scored 4.61 runs per game in the games he started and 5.02 in the games he didn’t. In 2009 it was 4.69 in his starts and 5.15 in his non-starts. Last year they scored just 3.76 runs per game when he started and 5.02 runs per game when he didn’t.

Here’s what the Phillies have done in games started and not started by Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels and Lee over the last five years.

Year Started by Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels or Lee Not Started by Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels or Lee
2010 50-28 .641 47-37 .560
2009 24-20 .545 69-49 .585
2008 19-14 .576 73-56 .566
2007 19-9 .679 70-64 .522
2006 13-10 .565 72-67 .520
Total 125-81 .607 331-273 .548

In 2009, the Phillies had a better record in the games that Hamels and Lee didn’t start (69-49) than the games that they did (24-20). In the other four seasons, the Phils fared better in the games started by Halladay, Oswalt, Lee or Hamels.

If the concerning news is that the Phillies are just 53-45 when Hamels starts in the last three years (85-64 over the last five), the good news is that they are a rather amazing 40-17 (.702) when Halladay, Oswalt or Lee start. Despite the 40-17, though, the Phils are just 74-48 (.607) when Halladay, Oswalt, Lee or Hamels start over the last two seasons, thanks to the 34-31 put up by Hamels.


Starter kit

So how many starts are Halladay, Oswalt, Lee and Hamels going to combine to make in 2011? A lot, we all hope, but over the past five seasons there have only been two years in which all four of those guys each made 30 starts, 2008 and 2009.

Halladay and Oswalt have made at least 30 starts in each of the five seasons.

Hamels has made as many starts (98) as Halladay over the past three years and more than Oswalt (Oswalt has made 94 starts over the past three seasons), but made under 30 starts in each of his first two years in the league (2006 and 2007). Since his age 24 season in 2008, Hamels had made at least 32 starts every year.

Lee has also made 30 starts in just three of the last five years. In 2007, he strained his groin during Spring Training and didn’t pitch till May. At the end of July he was sent to the minors with a 6.38 ERA for the season. When he returned to the Indians in September, he pitched out of the bullpen. Last year he made just 28 starts as an abdominal strain kept him from making his first start of the year until April 30.

Here’s the number of starts each of the four pitchers has made in the past five seasons:

2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 AVG
Halladay 33 32 33 31 32 32.2
Oswalt 32 30 32 32 32 31.6
Hamels 33 32 33 28 23 29.8
Lee 28 34 31 16 33 28.4
Group total 126 138 129 107 120 124

So, over the past five years, the group has made an average of 124 starts a season. 2007 was the year in which they made the fewest starts (107) and 2009 the year of the five in which they made the most (138).

Over the last three years, the group has averaged 131 starts.

All four members of the group have started at least 28 games in each of the past three seasons. Lee started 28 games in 2010 after missing part of the early season with his abdominal muscle. In 2009, Oswalt was struggling with problems with his lower back at the end of the season for an Astros team that wound up going 74-88 and finished 17 games out. After throwing to a 5.81 ERA over his last five starts, Oswalt didn’t make a start after September 15 and wound up with just 30 for the year. The last time that Oswalt made less than 30 starts in a season was 2003.

The Phillies traded Sergio Escalona to the Astros for 23-year-old second baseman Albert Cartwright. The lefty Escalona made 14 appearances for the Phillies in relief in 2009, throwing to a 4.61 ERA and a 1.24 ratio. He was designated for assignment on Saturday to make room for Romero on the 40-man roster. Cartwright saw his first action at Double-A in2010, hitting 229/289/271 over 154 plate appearances.


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