Tag: Bullpen

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
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

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.

And not just that but I think they have a problem in their bullpen

You may have noticed already, but the Phillies aren’t playing that well these days. Compared to anyone. They particularly aren’t playing well compared to some of the other National League teams they could face in the playoffs. Here’s a look at the records for five potential playoff teams in September as well as their runs scored and allowed per game for games this month and the difference between the two:

  W L Runs per
per game
PHI 15 13 4.39 4.18 0.21
STL 13 11 4.63 3.63 1.00
LAD 15 10 5.24 3.80 1.44
COL 16 9 4.68 4.28 0.40
ATL 17 8 4.88 3.48 1.40

Not to be forgotten is that the Phillies had a magnificent run in September between September 8 to September 22 that gave them the lead that’s now shrinking. In that stretch they played 14 games and went 11-3. They scored 5.57 runs per game in that stretch and allowed 3.57 runs per game. In the 14 games in September that weren’t in the 9/8 to 9/22 run they have been miserable, scoring 3.21 runs per game while allowing 4.57.

This says that Carlos Ruiz could be back in the lineup tonight.

Pedro may start on Thursday.

In the article linked above, Rich Dubee mentions Happ, Blanton and Pedro among the guys who could finish a game for the Phillies. Sounds good to me. Jamie Moyer has a 2.08 ERA and an 0.69 ratio in 17 1/3 innings in relief this season.

Phils pitching wishing there really were 500 days of summer

The Phillies might not be scoring a ton of runs these days, but they sure are pitching well. Here’s the number of runs they have allowed per game by month for the season:

Month Runs
allowed per game
April 5.60
May 4.75
June 4.77
July 3.59
August 3.59

In both July and August the Phillies played 27 games and allowed 97 runs, which is 3.59 runs per game. Both their starters and relievers have been improved over the last two months:

Before July

July and August
  ERA Ratio ERA Ratio
Total 4.79 1.47 3.28 1.19
SP 5.21 1.46 3.09 1.18
RP 4.07 1.47 3.72 1.23

While each of the groups was better in July and August than they were before, the starters were a whole lot better.

The area in which the starters showed tremendous improvement in July and August compared to the rest of the season was in preventing home runs. Here are the rates at which the starters and relievers allowed runs, hits, walks and home runs per nine innings before July and in July and August:

Before July

July and August
  R/9 H/9 BB/9 HR/9 R/9 H/9 BB/9 HR/9
SP 5.3 10.3 2.9 1.73 3.4 8.4 2.2 0.97
RP 4.4 8.5 4.8 0.97 4.0 7.9 3.1 0.82
TOT 4.9 9.6 3.6 1.45 3.6 8.3 2.5 0.93

So the starters allowed about 65% (3.4 over 5.3) of the runs per nine innings in July and August as they had in the previous months, but their improvement in preventing hits and walks wasn’t nearly that good. They allowed 82% of the hits per nine (8.4 over 10.3) and 77% of the walks. It was the home runs they allowed that were way down — they cut their rate of allowing home runs nearly in half, lowering it from 1.73 per nine innings to 0.97 per nine innings. That’s about 57% of the home runs per nine innings.

The relievers showed improvement too, but it wasn’t as dramatic as the improvement overall for the starters. For the bullpen it was the change in the walk rate that was most dramatic in July and August. They walked 3.1 batters per nine innings in July and August after walking 4.8 in the months before July.

The Phillies called up Jack Taschner. The linked article also suggests the Phillies may be considering calling up 19-year-old Anthony Gose to work as a pinch-runner. I would be surprised if that happened. Gose stole 75 bases for the Single-A BlueClaws while hitting 268/333/366 in 489 at-bats.

Brett Myers threw a 1-2-3 ninth to get the IronPigs a win last night.

The Phillies are 76-53 on the year, which puts them at 23 games above .500 for the first time since the 1993 season.

And if they would just let Bruntlett pitch it could be like pinch-hitting for the pitcher three times in every game

The Phillies have gone to their bullpen a lot this season. Often they’ve had to because their starting pitcher was miserably ineffective. Other times Cole Hamels has been injured in the fourth inning. Yet other times they let Eric Bruntlett hit in the top of the seventh for the guy throwing a one-hit shutout. Whatever the cause, the Phillies relief corps has been tested early and the innings are piling up.

This is partly disguised by the fact that the Phillies have played fewer games than many of the teams in the National League — if you look at the innings pitched by bullpens the Phillies aren’t at the top of the list.

In 2008, Phils’ relievers threw 483 innings. Only two NL teams, the Brewers and the Diamondbacks, threw fewer. Almost inarguably, their bullpen was the best in the league. Including last night’s game, they are on pace to throw 574 2/3 innings in 2009 (last year, Pittsburgh’s relievers threw the most innings in the NL at 567 2/3). And if you compare the number of innings the Phillies are throwing in relief to the other teams in the NL, they are on pace to lead the league in innings pitched by the pen (the chart below does not include last night’s games):

Team G IP IP/Game Pace Rank
HOU 27 96.3 3.57 578.0 3
LAD 28 92.0 3.29 532.3 6
FLA 26 89.7 3.45 558.7 4
SD 27 88.7 3.28 532.0 7
PHI 24 86.7 3.61 585.0 1
WAS 24 85.7 3.57 578.3 2
NYM 25 83.7 3.35 542.2 5
STL 26 82.7 3.18 515.1 9
MIL 26 80.0 3.08 498.5 10
ARI 26 79.3 3.05 494.3 12
COL 24 78.3 3.26 528.7 8
ATL 26 76.7 2.95 477.7 13
SF 25 76.7 3.07 496.8 11
CHI 26 76.3 2.94 475.6 14
CIN 25 71.0 2.84 460.1 15
PIT 25 68.7 2.75 445.0 16

Happ is on a pace to throw 99 1/3 innings in relief. Condrey 97. Durbin 106. Madson about 86 1/3. Madson and Durbin have both been starters in the past, so those numbers wouldn’t be career highs for them. Still, it’s a lot of innings to pitch in relief — in 2008, Durbin led the NL in relief innings pitched and he threw 87 2/3. Madson was fifth at 82 2/3.

There’s no way that all four of those guys are going to throw the number of innings the projections above suggest. What the projections do show, though, is that there has been a cost to the miserable start to the year by the rotation even if you don’t see it in wins and losses.

At the same time, it may be a little too early for projections. Condrey, for example, is on pace to win about 19 games, which is 13 more than the six that Hamels, Blanton and Park are on pace to win combined. Durbin and Lidge are on pace to allow 45 home runs a year after they combined to allow seven (they’ve already allowed seven this season). I’d guess that at least one of those things doesn’t even happen.

Phils have some keep-it-in-the-yard work to do

The Phillies bullpen was fantastic in 2008, but 2008 is over and 2009 has seemingly brought more than one problem to the Phils’ relief corps. Through the first 11 games of 2009, the pen has been a little tough to watch. Curiously, however, they have been better at preventing hits and walks than they were overall in 2008 and have struck out hitters more regularly. Whatever could it be?

Remember this? If you don’t, compared to the other bullpens in the National League, the thing the Phillies excelled at in 2008 was preventing extra-base hits and especially preventing home runs.

This year, not so much.

The chart below compares the rates of runs, hits, walks, strikeouts, extra-base hits and home runs per nine innings for the ’08 pen and the ’09 pen.


In ’09, again, the rates for allowing hits and walks and striking people out are all better. The rate for allowing extra-base hits is worse by a little and the rate for allowing home runs is worse by a lot (through 11 games the Phillies pen has allowed about 2.72 times as many home runs per nine innings as they did last year).

Only one National League team, the Rockies, has had their bullpen allow more home runs than the eight that the Phillies have allowed (Houston and Washington have also each allowed eight).

While the rate the Phils pen has allowed extra-base hits is up in ’09 compared to ’08, they are still below the NL average. The average NL pen has given up 3.22 extra-base hits per nine innings compared to 2.82 per nine innings for the Phils. When it comes to home runs it’s a different story — 1.88 per nine for the Phils compared to 1.19 for the NL bullpens overall.

Finally, it’s important to remember that while the bullpen has been bad for the Phils so far this season it isn’t as big a problem as the starting pitching has been. The Phillies pen has thrown to a 5.63 ERA so far, which is 12th-best of the 16 NL teams. Their starters on the other hand, have a 7.67 ERA, which is the worst ERA for starters in either league.

Jamie Moyer (1-1, 6.55) faces lefty Manny Parra (0-2, 6.97) tonight as the Phillies play the first of three against Milwaukee. Moyer has allowed four runs in each of his starts, going five innings against the Braves in his first start and six innings against the Nats in his second. He’s allowed 16 hits in 11 innings. Opponents are hitting .340 against him. Parra has also made two starts on the season and fared better in the second. He allowed three runs to the Reds over six innings a week ago today. Opponents have hit just .231 against him this year, but he’s walked six in 10 1/3 innings. He made one start against the Phils last year and didn’t make it out of the second inning.

Okay, then, stay in my yard

By almost any measure, the Phillies had the best bullpen in the National League in 2008. Phils’ relievers pitched to an NL-best 3.22 ERA and allowed fewer runs per inning than the relievers for any other team in the league.

But what was it that they did that was exceptional relative to the other bullpens in the league? Not that they necessarily had to do any one thing — they could have been a little bit better than average in a lot of ways. I mentioned yesterday that one thing that wasn’t exceptional about the pen in ’08 was the number of walks they issued. They actually walked more batters than the average bullpen in the league. They also didn’t prevent hits at an exceptional rate. Here are the rates that the average NL bullpen recorded hits, walks and strikeouts per nine innings in 2008 along with what the Phillies did:


The Phillies relievers did do a better job of preventing hits than the average NL bullpen, but not by a whole lot. They walked more batters and struck out more. Here it is in a chart that shows the average rates for NL bullpens for 2008 for hits, walks and strikeouts along with the rates for the Phillies and their rank in the NL in those categories relative to other NL relief corps:

  NL pen
H per 9
8.72 8.50 7 0.97
BB per 9 3.83 3.93 9 1.03
SO per 9 7.57 7.66 5 1.01

So per nine innings pitched, the Phillies relievers allowed about 97% of the hits, 103% of the walks and got 101% of the strikeouts that the average pen would have gotten. They were the fifth-best in the 16-team league at striking hitters out, but the numbers for allowing walks and hits were near the middle of the pack.

What is exceptional relative to the other bullpens in the NL last year is this:

  NL pen
XBH per 9
2.89 2.53 3 .88
HR per 9 0.96 0.69 1 .72

Again, per nine innings pitched, the Phils allowed 88% of the extra-base hits of an average NL pen and 72% of the home runs. Their rate of allowing extra-base bases hits was third-best in the league and the rate of allowing home runs was the best.

The overall success at preventing extra-base hits has a lot to do at how good the Phillies relievers were at preventing home runs. Compared to the other NL teams, their rate of preventing doubles and triples was not nearly as outstanding as their rate at preventing home runs.


And here it is in table form:

  NL pen
XBH per 9
2.89 2.53 3 .88
2B + 3B per 9 1.93 1.84 7 .96
HR per 9 0.96 0.69 1 .72

The rate at which they prevented doubles and triples simply wasn’t as extraordinary as the rate at which they prevented home runs. While they were third overall among NL pens at preventing extra-base hits, they were just seventh in preventing doubles and triples. None of this is to say there was any one factor that made the bullpen great overall in 2008, or that all of the areas mentioned in the post are equally important, but in some areas the Phils’ relievers were much more dominant than others.

Yesterday the Phillies lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 to drop to 4-8 in spring training. Another nice outing by Happ was the best news of the day for the Phils.

Moyer got the start and went five innings, allowing two runs on six hits and a walk. Happ followed Moyer and allowed a run in three innings, giving up four hits and a walk. The run that Happ allowed came on a solo homer by Gabe Kapler.

Moyer called the outing his worst appearance of the spring. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed he’s not losing his marbles.

Offensively, the Phillies had three hits. Andy Tracy hit a solo home run with two outs in the ninth to get the Phillies within a run. Cairo was 2-for-3 with two singles, raising his spring average to .318. Mayberry 0-for-3. Donald 0-for-2 with a walk. Paulino 0-for-2, dropping his average to .200. Coste 0-for-1.

Werth was supposed to start the game in center but was scratched with a groin issue. He is expected to play today. I think you should be concerned but not surprised by all the problems Werth is having getting on the field this spring — the roster puts the Phillies in a spot where they’re going to have problems if Werth isn’t ready to go once the season starts. There’s still a lot of time, though.

Burrell was at DH for the Rays and went 1-for-3. He’s hitting .333 this spring.

The Phillies play the Pirates this afternoon.

In the World Baseball Classic, Rodrigo Lopez did not pitch yesterday as Cuba beat Mexico 16-4. Mexico plays Korea on Sunday and Cuba plays Japan.

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