While the 2008 version of the Phillies’ pen looks sure to be improved, chances are good that you’ll still be able to look directly at without risking any type of eye injury. Better without being real good seems like a safe guess. One of the problems that’s worse than a weak bulllpen is a weak bullpen that has to pitch a lot, and I think you have to wonder to what degree pitching at Citizens Bank Park ensures that the Phils will have to call on their relievers to throw more innings than they would like.

It makes intuitive sense that at Citizens Bank Park your starting pitchers would not be able to pitch as long, forcing your relievers to throw more innings. That may or may not be true. What is true is that in the first four years they’ve played at Citizens Bank Park, the Phils have called on their relievers to throw more innings than they did the four previous years. This could be caused by other factors, of course, worse starting pitchers, better offenses on other teams, different strategic approaches by the manager about when to use the bullpen among them, but here are the numbers for innings pitched, NL rank in innings pitched, run allowed and NL ranked in runs allowed by relievers for the Phils over the last eight seasons:


Year

Park

Manager

IP

NL Rank

RA

NL Rank
2007 CBP Manuel 520 8 285 13
2006 CBP Manuel 539 4 243 5
2005 CBP Manuel 478 7 253 11
2004 CBP Bowa 540.1 2 246 8
2003 Vet Bowa 474.2 10 211 T-3
2002 Vet Bowa 500.1 T-8 237 8
2001 Vet Bowa 484.2 6 226 7
2000 Vet Francona 434.1 13 299 14

The good news proves to be that it’s possible to have a reliable bullpen even at Citizens Bank Park. In two of the four years that the Phillies have played there they’ve been in the top half of the league in runs allowed by relievers.

The bad news may be that shorter outings by the starters mean more innings for the relievers. This could be caused by factors other than the park (worse starting pitchers, for example), but if you look at the last eight seasons the Phils have had their relievers throw a lot more innings in the years they played at CBP than the years where they played at the Vet.

In the four years they’ve played in Citizens Bank Park, Phillies relievers have thrown 2,077 1/3 innings, an average of 519 1/3 innings per season. In each of the four years they have been in the top half of innings pitched by relievers for every year. In the four years previous, they threw 1,894 innings, or 473 and a half innings per year.

In his four years managing the Phils, Bowa used his bullpen the most in his only year managing in Citizens Bank Park. In the three years before the 2004 season, Bowa had called on his relief pitchers the most in 2002 when they tossed 500 1/3 innings. In his first year managing in Citizens Bank Park, Bowa’s relievers threw 40 more innings, 540 1/3.

The transition to Citizens Bank Park and the toll it took on starting pitchers is arguably telling if you look at the guys who pitched for Bowa in both 2003 and 2004. Kevin Millwood, Brett Myers and Randy Wolf all pitched for Bowa both in 2003, the last year at the Vet, and 2004, the first year at Citizens Bank Park. In 2004, all three 1) had worse ERAs 2) had worse ratios and 3) threw fewer innings than they had in 2003 (although for Millwood and Wolf that may have been compounded by health issues). Myers was the most dramatic of the three. In 2003 he went 14-9 with a 4.43 ERA and a 1.46 ratio in 193 innings. In 2004 he had the worst year of his career. He threw just 176 innings and posted a 5.52 ERA with a 1.47 ratio.

On a separate note, here is the Phillies’ pitcher that threw the most innings in relief each of the last eight seasons:


Year

Pitcher

IP
2007 Geary 67.1
2006 Geary 91.1
2005 Madson 87.0
2004 Cormier 81.0
2003 Cormier 84.2
2002 Silva 84.0
2001 Mesa 69.1
2000 Gomes 73.2

I again want to point out that the Phils may miss Geary this season after he led the team in innings pitched in relief for two straight seasons. The Phillies have not had a reliever throw more than the 91 1/3 innings that Geary threw in ’06 since 1998.

Hard to imagine things didn’t turn out for the best in 2000, what with Wayne Gomes chucking a team-high 73 2/3 innings of relief. In Gomes’ defense, he was pretty solid that season, throwing to a 4.40 ERA with a 1.45 ratio.

Carlos Delgado agrees the Mets are the team to beat in the NL East.

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