Tag: Chad Durbin

The murky dozen

Here was the most recent guess about the pitchers who start the year with the team, which came in this post at the end of January:

Other candidates
1 Halladay (R) P Aumont (R)
2 Lee (L) T Cloyd (R)
3 Hamels (L) J De Fratus (R)
4 Kendrick (R) M Schwimer (R)
5 Lannan (L) M Stutes (R)
6 Papelbon (R) BJ Rosenberg (R)
7 Adams (R) E Martin (R)
8 Bastardo (L) J Pettibone (R)
9 JC Ramirez (R)
10 Z Miner (R)
11 J Cruz (R)
12 A Cook (R)
R Lopez (R)
J Friend (R)
K Simon (R)
J Horst (L)
R Valdes (L)
J Diekman (L)
J Savery (L)
M Robles (L)
C Jimenez (L)
A Morgan (L)

There have been some developments since then. The biggest is that Chad Durbin was signed and appears to be a lock to be a righty out of the pen. Juan Cruz and the Phillies have parted ways, presumably because Durbin appears to be a lock to be a righty out of the pen. JC Ramirez was DFA’ed and then sent to Triple-A. And the Phillies signed two lefties who are unlikely to see time with the big league club soon, David Newmann and Corey Young.

So I add Durbin to the list and removed Cruz. Ramirez will still be in camp as an NRI, although he seems like a long shot to start the year with the team, he’s still in the right-hand column of other candidates.

Other candidates
1 Halladay (R) P Aumont (R)
2 Lee (L) T Cloyd (R)
3 Hamels (L) J De Fratus (R)
4 Kendrick (R) M Schwimer (R)
5 Lannan (L) M Stutes (R)
6 Papelbon (R) BJ Rosenberg (R)
7 Adams (R) E Martin (R)
8 Bastardo (L) J Pettibone (R)
9 Durbin (R) JC Ramirez (R)
10 Z Miner (R)
11 A Cook (R)
12 R Lopez (R)
J Friend (R)
K Simon (R)
J Horst (L)
R Valdes (L)
J Diekman (L)
J Savery (L)
M Robles (L)
C Jimenez (L)
A Morgan (L)

So nine slots now filled. Five starters and four relievers. Of the relievers, they have a closer, a setup guy and one lefty.

Assuming 12 pitchers to start the year, they have three open spots.

Last time I guessed I had them with eight filled slots and gave the last four to Horst, Aumont, Valdes and De Fratus, which left the Phils with three lefties in the pen and no true long man.

One big question with the current staff is whether Chad Durbin can pitch more than one inning or if the Phillies will use him to do so. Durbin was very good in 2012, arguably the best he had been since ’08 with the Phils, but didn’t go more than an inning a whole lot of times. Durbin got more than three outs in three of his 76 appearances for Atlanta in ’12. He threw more than 25 pitches in a game in four of 76. In 2008, the Phillies had Durbin throw more than 25 pitches in 18 of 71 appearances. On May 18, 2008, Durbin threw 66 pitches in relief of Kendrick after Kendrick exited after just one inning.

But it’s not 2008 anymore. And I would guess we aren’t going to see Durbin go more than an inning very often. So I’d say they still don’t have a long guy out of the pen.

I really have trouble seeing the Phillies not carry Horst to start the year given his performance in 2012 (he threw to a 1.15 ERA with a 1.12 ratio and 40 strikeouts over 31 1/3 innings).

I think that gets them to ten and leaves them with two slots open. I see Aumont, De Fratus, Stutes and Valdes as the guys with the best chances to fill the remaining slots. Aumont seems to have the biggest upside of the group. De Fratus has been fantastic in the minors in recent years. Stutes will need to prove he’s healthy, but was a big contributor for the 2011 Phils. Valdes threw to a 2.90 ERA with an 0.74 ratio for the Phils in 2012.

Aumont’s upside potential makes me feel like there’s some separation between him and the rest of the candidates. So I’ll put him in the eleventh spot. I think the last spot is a total tossup. Valdes would give the Phillies three lefties, so I’ll go with De Fratus once again.

That gives us 12 pitchers: Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Lannan, Kendrick, Papelbon, Adams, Durbin, Bastardo, Horst, Aumont and De Fratus.

Ben Revere wants to get on base more.

This article talks about depth in the starting rotation beyond the top five starters. It’s not real good.

Former Phillie hitting coach Greg Gross comments on some past and current Phillie hitters in this article.

Welcome to the broke down machine

Shortly after the addition of Ben Revere, I whipped through a couple of posts in which I lamented the fact that, given his complete lack of power, Revere was likely either going to have to significantly up his walk rate or hit for a very high average to be able to post a league-average wOBA.

In this post, I put Revere’s 5.2% walk rate from last season in the context of the 2012 Phillies.

Delmon Young’s walk rate for 2012 was 3.3%. Here’s what the table looks like if we add him (I’ve also added Michael Young, so we can look at all three new players together):

Chase Utley 362 11.9
Ty Wigginton 360 10.3
Domonic Brown 212 9.9
Laynce Nix 127 9.5
Jimmy Rollins 699 8.9
Ryan Howard 292 8.6
Hunter Pence 440 8.4
Shane Victorino 431 8.1
NL Average - 7.9
’12 Phillie total 6172 7.4
John Mayberry 479 7.1
Erik Kratz 157 7.0
Carlos Ruiz 421 6.9
Mike Fontenot 105 6.7
Placido Polanco 328 5.5
Ben Revere 553 5.2
Juan Pierre 439 5.2
Michael Young 651 5.1
Kevin Frandsen 210 4.3
Michael Martinez 122 4.1
Freddy Galvis 200 3.5
Delmon Young 608 3.3

So the table now includes the walk rate for every Phillies with at least 100 plate appearances, Revere, both Youngs, the Phillie team average and the NL average walk rates in 2012.

One of the differences between the Youngs and Revere is Revere’s near total lack of power. There’s not much reason to walk Revere if you believe he has little change to do worse than single anyway. That’s not the case with the Youngs.

Michael Young’s walk rate in 2012 was bad. Delmon Young’s walk rate in 2012 was atrocious.

Across both leagues, there were 223 players who got at least 350 plate appearances in 2012. Delmon Young’s walk rate of 3.3% was better than just one of the 223. Alexei Ramirez walked in 2.6% of his 621 plate appearances. Michael Young’s walk rate of 5.1% was 201st of the 223 players.

While we’re here, I don’t think you want to let Domonic Brown’s walk rate pass you by without notice. Especially in relation to the walk rates of Young and Young, and double especially Delmon. In 2012, Domonic Brown walked 21 times in 212 plate appearances. That’s more walks overall than Delmon Young had (20) in 608 plate appearances. Brown’s walk rate for his career is 10.4% — and he’s not even a good hitter yet. I think he will be. And I think we’re not going to have to wait that much longer.

The Phillies have agreed to a one-year deal, $1.1 million deal with 35-year-old right-handed reliever Chad Durbin. Durbin last pitched with the Phillies in 2010. He struggled with the Indians in 2011, throwing to a 5.53 with a 1.64 ratio, but bounced back nicely with Atlanta in 2012 as he pitched to a 3.10 ERA with a 1.31 ratio. He has thrown at least 60 innings in relief in each of the last five years and appears to be a lock for a bullpen spot, joining Papelbon, Adams and Bastardo in the pen and leaving two or three open slots, depending on whether the Phils start the year with 13 or 14 hitters.

Durbin was with the Phillies from 2008 to 2010, throwing to a 3.62 ERA with a 1.37 ratio in those seasons combined. 2008 was the best year of his career — he threw to a 1.56 ERA in his first 56 appearances with the Phils that season and ended the year having pitched to a 2.87 ERA and a 1.32 ratio over 87 2/3 innings. He pitched for the Phillies in the post-season in ’08, ’09 and ’10 and was particularly good in the 2009 NLCS as the Phils topped the Dodgers in five games. He pitched in four of the five games in that set, facing nine batters and retiring all nine.

The Phillies signed Yuniesky Betancourt to a minor league deal. He’ll be with the team in spring training as a NRI and try to make the squad as a utility guy. Betancourt is 30-years-old and hits right-handed. He was Milwaukee’s everyday shortstop in 2011 and Kansas City’s in 2010. He got 228 plate appearances with the Royals in 2012, playing mostly second base. He hits for a low average and doesn’t walk. He’s hit 36 home runs and 70 doubles over his last 1,400 plate appearances, which is an average of about 13 homers and 25 doubles over 500 plate appearances. He was bad defensively at second for the Royals in 2012 and put UZR/150s of -7.4 and -9.2 at short in 2011 and 2010. He’s posted a negative bWAR for six straight years and a negative fWAR in two of the last four.

Hamels seems to think we should all calm down about his shoulder.

Strikeout outage

More on strikeouts. Today’s point is that Victorino and Utley didn’t strike out much compared to other NL players who hit as many home runs or more home runs than they did in 2010.

Utley hit 16 home runs in 2010 and struck out in about 12.3% of his plate appearances. Victorino hit 18 and struck out in about 12.2% of his plate appearances. There were 61 NL players who hit 16 or more home runs last season. Of those 61, only three struck out in a lower percentage of their plate appearances than Victorino did and only four (those three plus Victorino) struck out in a lower percentage of their plate appearances than Utley did.

The table below shows some of the 61 NL players who hit at least 16 home runs in 2010, including Mark Reynolds, who had the highest strikeout rate among those players, Phils Howard, Werth and Ibanez as well as Victorino, Utley and the three NL players with 16 home runs that struck out less than Victorino and Utley. The “Rank” columns indicates each player’s rank among the 61 in terms of the percentage of plate appearances in which he struck out.

Player HR SO % SO % Rank
Mark Reynolds 32 35.4 1
Ryan Howard 31 25.3 11
Jayson Werth 27 22.5 20
Raul Ibanez 16 17.0 40
Chase Utley 16 12.3 57
Shane Victorino 18 12.2 58
Brandon Phillips 18 12.1 59
Albert Pujols 42 10.9 60
Carlos Lee 24 9.1 61

Overall, Utley, Victorino and Carlos Lee (the NL player on the list with the best strikeout rate) combined to strike out 201 times in 1,808 plate appearances. That’s less than Reynolds (the guy on the list with the worst strikeout rate) struck out in his 596 plate appearances. Reynolds struck out 211 times for the Snakes in 2010.

The Phillies beat Florida State 8-0 yesterday. Brown went 1-for-3 with a single and misplayed a fly ball in right. Seven Phillies pitchers, including Drew Naylor, Michael Stutes, Michael Schwimer and Justin De Fratus, combined to hold Florida State to four hits.

Chase Utley did not play in the game due to soreness. Manuel says Utley is not injured and will play next week if he doesn’t play Saturday.

Chad Durbin may be near a deal with the Indians.

K replay

Over the last three seasons, the Phillies have dramatically lowered the rate at which they strike out. Here’s the team’s rank in the National League for total strikeouts by their hitters over the past four seasons (where “16″ means the team whose batters struck out the most times that year and “1″ means the team whose batters struck out the least):

Year NL Rank Strikeouts
2007 14
2008 9
2009 8
2010 3

In 2007, only two teams, the Marlins and the Padres, struck out more than the Phillies. By 2010, only two teams struck out less (St Louis and Houston).

In 2007, NL hitters struck out in about 17.31% of their plate appearances. In 2010, it was about 19.31%. Here’s the list of Phillies in 2007 and 2010 that got at least 150 plate appearances and the percentage of the plate appearances in which they struck out.

’10 Player PA % SO % SO/%SO for league ’07 Player PA % SO % SO/%SO for league
Ryan Howard 620 25.3 1.31 Ryan Howard 648 30.7 1.77
Jayson Werth 652 22.5 1.17 Jayson Werth 304 24.0 1.39
Greg Dobbs 176 22.2 1.15 Wes Helms 308 20.1 1.16
Pat Burrell 598 20.1 1.16
Ben Francisco 197 17.8 0.92 Greg Dobbs 358 18.7 1.08
Raul Ibanez 636 17.0 0.88 Aaron Rowand 684 17.4 1.01
Carlos Ruiz 433 12.5 0.65
Chase Utley 511 12.3 0.64 Abraham Nunez 287 16.7 0.97
Shane Victorino 648 12.2 0.63 Tad Iguchi 156 14.7 0.85
Wilson Valdez 363 11.8 0.61 Chase Utley 613 14.5 0.84
Jimmy Rollins 394 8.1 0.42 Shane Victorino 510 12.2 0.70
Placido Polanco 602 7.8 0.40 Carlos Ruiz 429 11.4 0.66
Jimmy Rollins 778 10.9 0.63

So, in 2010, NL players overall struck out in a higher percentage of their plate appearances (19.31% to 17.31%). The overall strikeout rates for ’07 and ’10 regulars Howard, Werth, Utley and Rollins were all down in 2010 compared to 2007. The rate for Ruiz was up, but in both years he struck out less than an average NL hitter. For Victorino it was about the same and stayed low.

For Howard, especially, it’s important to note that while the strikeout rate for the league was going up, his was going down. So in 2007, when he struck out in about 30.7% of his plate appearances, that was almost 1.8 times as often as the league average. His rate was down to 25.3% in 2010, which was only about 1.3 times as often as the league average of 19.31%.

That leaves left field and third base.

In left field, the Phillies replaced Burrell, whose ’07 strikeout rate was above league average, with Ibanez. In 2010, Ibanez’s strikeout rate was below league average.

In 2007, Wes Helms, Greg Dobbs and Abraham Nunez all played at least 400 innings at third base for the Phillies. Dobbs and Helms both struck out more than the average for the league while Nunez was just below league average. In 2010, Polanco played about 75% of the innings at third for the Phils. There were two NL players who got 150 plate appearances in 2010 and struck out in a lower percentage of them than Polanco. Jeff Keppinger struck out in 6.3% of his 575 plate appearances and David Eckstein struck out in 7.1% of his 492.

Finally, Rollins struck out in about 8.1% of his plate appearances last year. There were only three NL players in 2010 that got 150 plate appearances and struck out less often than he did — Polanco, Eckstein and Keppinger.

This article suggests that Durbin could return to the Phils on a minor league contract. That would be great for the Phillies if it happened, but I sure would be surprised.

The article linked above also mentions that Bastardo continues to have problems with his arm and a stomach illness and will not throw in any of the first five Grapefruit League games.

Fans hopeful the Phils find a way to get Madson a break next year that doesn’t require him to kick any chairs

Most fans will remember that the bullpen in 2010 was nothing special for the Phils, and that they lost the NLCS after Juan Uribe broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning of game six with a home run off of Ryan Madson. I’m guessing that fewer remember that

  • Madson was pitching his second inning of the game after throwing a scoreless seventh
  • He threw 32 pitches in the game and Uribe’s homer came on his 28th pitch of the game
  • He had thrown in game four (32 pitches in 1 2/3 innings) and game five (one inning, 13 pitches) with an off-day between games five and six
  • He pitched in five of the six games in the NLCS, throwing 6 2/3 innings in five appearances over six games. The rest of team combined to throw 12 1/3 innings in relief in the NLCS, including Oswalt’s work in relief in game four.
  • In game two of the NLCS he started the ninth and pitched a scoreless inning with a five-run lead

So the Phils leaned hard on Madson in the NLCS. And he pitched well, allowing a run in the five appearances on the Uribe homer over 6 2/3 innings. They leaned hard on him at the end of the regular season as well. From July 15 through September 29, Madson made 43 appearances for the Phils in which he threw to a 1.54 ERA and an 0.88 ratio over 41 innings while striking out 49. From August 20 through September 15, the Phillies played 27 games and Madson appeared in 18 of them.

Only two pitchers threw more innings in relief for the Phils in 2010 than Madson did. Contreras threw 3 2/3 more innings and Durbin threw 15 2/3 more innings. But Madson missed more than two full months of the season — he didn’t pitch between April 28 and July 8.

If the question is whether the Phillies leaned too hard on Madson or not, I think the answer is yes. There’s no question that Madson was the best bullpen arm the Phillies had in 2010, but they did have four other guys that made at least 50 appearances with an ERA+ better than 100 for the year (Lidge, Durbin, Contreras and Romero).

Regardless of whether the Phillies asked too much of Madson last year or not, their NLCS loss had a lot more to do with their ability to produce runs than it did with their ability to prevent them. It did make me wonder, though, how the performance of the bullpen in the post-season over the past four years has compared to the performance of the bullpen in the regular season.

Here’s the ERA and ratio that the Phillies bullpen has thrown to over the past four years, both during the regular season and in the post-season. Also included is the team’s rank for the year in the NL in runs allowed per bullpen inning pitched.

Year Regular Season ERA Regular Season Ratio NL R Pen R/IP Post-season ERA Post-season ratio
2007 4.50 1.50 13 6.52 1.76
2008 3.22 1.38 1 1.79 1.21
2009 3.91 1.38 9 4.20 1.52
2010 4.02 1.39 8 1.89 1.21

Compared to the rest of the NL, the bullpen was really bad in 2007 during the regular season. It was terrible during the post-season as well as the Phils were swept by the Rockies. Matt Holliday homered off of Gordon in game one as they Phils fell 4-2. Game two was a nightmare in which Lohse, Mesa and Condrey combined to allow five runs in 3 1/3 innings after an early exit by Kendrick and the Phils were blown out. With two outs, nobody on and the game tied at 1-1 in the eighth inning of game three, JC Romero allowed three straight singles and a run that put Colorado on top to stay at 2-1.

By runs allowed per inning pitched, the Phillies were the best pen in the NL in 2008. They were fantastic in the post-season as well as Lidge, Madson and Romero combined to thrown 29 1/3 innings over 14 games and allowed four runs while throwing to a 1.23 ERA with an 0.85 ratio. The other guys in the pen combined to throw just 11 innings. After allowing four runs in four games against the Brewers, the bullpen would allow just five runs in the ten games they played against the Dodgers and Rays. One of those runs was unearned. In game one of the NLCS, Madson and Lidge combined to throw two scoreless innings of relief as the Phils beat the Dodgers 3-2. There were five games in the 2008 World Series and the Phillies won three of them by one run. In game one, Madson and Lidge combined to strike out three in two perfect innings as the Phils won 3-2. In game three, Madson surrendered a run to BJ Upton and the Rays in the eighth to tie the game at 4-4, but Romero followed him with 1 1/3 scoreless frames and the Phils won 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth when Ruiz’s dribbler scored Bruntlett. Madson, Lidge and Romero out-pitched the Tampa Bay pen in part two of game five as the Phils won 4-3.

The bullpen was nowhere near as good in the post-season in 2009. Blanton appeared in relief in games two and three, allowing runs in both appearances.

Madson allowed two runs on four hits in the eighth inning of game one of the NLCS with the Dodgers, but the Phils held on to win 8-6. Chan Ho Park started the eighth inning of game two with a 1-0 lead and allowed a pair of runs in game two and the Phils lost 2-1. After game two the pen was great, holding the Dodgers to a run (charged Park in the eighth inning of game five with the Phils up 9-3) over 8 2/3 innings.

The ’09 World Series started well for the pen. Lee threw a complete game to start the series as the Phils took a 1-0 lead. They lost game two 3-1, with all three runs charged to Pedro Martinez. They failed in game three, though. The Phils jumped out to a 3-0 lead before New York took a 5-3 lead off of Hamels with two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth. Happ, Durbin and Myers followed Hamels — all three of them allowed runs and they combined to give up three runs over 3 2/3 innings. Lidge got hammered in game four after a regular season in which he had thrown to a 7.21 ERA. The ninth started tied at 4-4. Lidge got the first two. Damon singled, stole second, stole third. Lidge hit Teixeira. A-Rod doubled. 5-4 with men on second and third. Posada hit a two-run single to make it 7-4, which was how it ended. Madson allowed a run on three hits in the ninth inning of game five, but the Phils held on for an 8-6 win. Pedro had nothing in game six, but Durbin didn’t do much to put out the fire. With the Phils down 4-1, Durbin started the fifth and was charged with three runs (with an assist to Happ, who gave up a two-run double to Matsui with both runs charged to Durbin).

The one of these things that’s not like the others for the Phils was the 2010 post-season. The Phillie bullpen was far from fantastic in the 2010 regular season, but pitched very well in the post-season. The Phils got two complete games while sweeping the Reds in the NLDS, one from Halladay and one from Hamels. In the other, Oswalt went just five innings, but was backed up by Romero, Durbin, Contreras, Madson and Lidge, who combined to allow a hit and two walks over four scoreless frames.

The bullpen didn’t allow a run in the first three games of the NLCS, either, making it the first six games of the 2010 post-season that the bullpen had not been charged with a run. Madson and Lidge combined to throw two scoreless innings in game one, but the Phils lost by a run anyway. Madson allowed a walk and a hit in the only inning thrown by the pen in game two, but the Phils rolled to a 6-1 win behind Oswalt. Contreras threw two perfect innings behind Hamels in game three as the Phils managed just three hits and fell 3-0 to fall behind two games to one.

They lost game four, too. They started the bottom of the sixth up 4-3, but Durbin allowed a pair of runs on two doubles and two walks and the Giants pulled ahead 5-4. The Phils tied the game in the top of the eighth on back-to-back doubles by Howard and Werth. Oswalt started the ninth with the game still tied, but allowed back-to-back singles with one out to put men on first and third. Uribe hit a fly ball deep enough for Aubrey Huff to tag, score and win the game for the Giants.

In game five, Contreras, Romero, Madson and Lidge combined to throw three scoreless frames in relief of Halladay and the Phils took the game 4-2 to stay alive. Madson, for the record, looked fantastic as he struck out the side on 13 pitches in a perfect eighth.

Not so much in game six, though. In Madson’s second inning of work, Uribe homered off of him to put the Giants on top to stay at 3-2.

Much ado about how much there is to do

One thing to remember when you consider how many innings the new rotation might save the pen in 2011 is that in 2010 the bullpen threw less innings than any other team in the National League. Phillie relievers tossed just 421 innings last year, the fewest in the league by a fairly wide margin. The Arizona Diamondbacks were 15th in the NL in bullpen innings pitched with 439. The Giants were 14th, and they threw 461 innings in relief — 40 more than the Phillies. Only one team in the DH-loving AL threw fewer innings in relief. The Mariners called on their pen to throw 419 1/3 innings, which was 1 2/3 less than the Phillies.

So even before adding Cliff Lee to the rotation, and even without a full year of Oswalt, the Phillies were already calling on their bullpen to throw fewer innings than any team in their league and almost any other team in baseball.

For the last three seasons, the Phils have been in the bottom half in the NL in terms of innings pitched in relief. In two of the three years they have been among the three teams that threw the fewest innings in relief.

Here’s the number of innings the Phillies bullpen has thrown per season over the past five years and their rank in innings pitched in relief in the NL for that year:

Year IP in relief NL rank innings pitched in relief
2010 421 16
2009 492 9
2008 483 14
2007 520 8
2006 539 4

In 2006, the Phillies threw 539 innings in relief. Only three teams in the NL threw more innings in relief that year, the Mets, Nationals and Cubs. By 2008, only two NL teams (the Brewers and the Diamondbacks) threw fewer innings in relief than the Phils. In 2010, the Phils were 16th in the 16-team league in innings pitched by their relievers (no NL team threw fewer).

There is bad news, though, and that’s that the bullpens, with one notable exception, have generally not gotten better at preventing runs as the number of innings they throw relative to the rest of the league goes down. The table below has the same three columns as the table above, but adds the NL rank for runs allowed per inning in relief for each year.

Year IP in relief NL rank innings pitched in relief NL Rank R/IP in relief
2010 421 16 8
2009 492 9 9
2008 483 14 1
2007 520 8 13
2006 539 4 3

In 2006, the bullpen was throwing a ton of innings, but they were also allowing fewer runs per inning pitched in relief than every bullpen in the league except for the Mets and the Padres. Last year the bullpen threw fewer innings than any other team in the league, but their effectiveness in terms of runs allowed per innings pitched was in the middle of the pack. 2008 is the only year in the last four in which the bullpen excelled at preventing runs. In that year the Phils were near the bottom of the league in bullpen innings pitched and at the very top in terms of runs allowed per inning pitched. You may recall that things turned out well for the team that year.

JC Romero appears to be headed back to the Phils. Five guys in the pen at this point: Romero, Baez, Contreras, Madson and Lidge. Many articles, including this post, suggest that the addition of Romero makes it less likely the Phils would bring back Durbin.

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