Tag: Dave Borkowski

Best way for Phils to get ahead may be to get ahead

WC Fields once said, “There are only two real ways to get ahead today — sell liquor or drink it.” In baseball at least, you can also throw strike one.

In Sunday night’s post I pointed out that the Phillies give up both a lot and a high percentage of their home runs on the first pitch. Today’s post will take a look at how often NL teams got ahead or behind in the count on the first pitch. Later this week I’ll look at which teams got the best results by getting ahead in the count on the first pitch.

After the first pitch of a plate appearance, the plate appearance can be over or the count can be 1-0 or 0-1. The chart below shows how often each of those things happened for the NL teams last season. For each team it shows, for the batters they faced, how many had their plate appearance end on one pitch, how many of them the team’s pitchers got behind 1-0 and how many they got ahead of 0-1 (and their NL rank for each of those categories):

Team %
Rank % 1-0 Rank % 0-1 Rank
CHI 11.4 9 41.2 6 47.4 6
PHI 12.5 2 41.0 5 46.5 11
SFG 10.6 15 42.7 15 46.6 10
SDP 11.8 8 41.5 8 46.7 9
HOU 12.6 1 39.8 2 47.6 5
STL 11.9 7 40.3 3 47.8 4
NYM 11.4 11 41.4 7 47.2 7
WSN 11.2 12 42.4 13 46.4 13
ARI 12.2 4 38.1 1 49.6 1
LAD 11.4 10 40.4 4 48.2 2
COL 11.9 6 41.7 10 46.4 12
PIT 12.3 3 44.2 16 43.5 16
MIL 12.1 5 41.7 11 46.2 14
CIN 10.4 16 41.5 9 48.1 3
FLA 11.2 13 42.7 14 46.1 15
ATL 11.0 14 42.1 12 46.9 8

Arizona clearly wins the prize for getting ahead of hitters in 2008. They got ahead of 49.6% of the hitters they faced 0-1, which was the best rate of the league. They got behind 38.1% of them 1-0, which was also the best rate in the league. Not far behind them are the Dodgers.

At the other end of the scale, the Pirates are the clear winners of the don’t-go-to-the-head-of-the-class award with both the worst rate of getting ahead and the worst rate of getting behind.

This all seems pretty simple — the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers were really good at pitching last year and the Pirates were really bad. Case closed. Sadly, if you look a little deeper things get perplexing. The Astros and the Cardinals were both very good at getting ahead of hitters and not getting behind them and neither team pitched exceptionally well in ’08. The Brewers pitched well last year and were miserable at getting ahead of hitters.

The Phillies, meanwhile, saw a high percentage of their plate appearances end in one pitch. Including that, though, they weren’t especially good at getting ahead of hitters. They did, however, avoid falling into a 1-0 count pretty well.

Here’s what the getting ahead and getting behind numbers look like if you take out the plate appearances that ended on the first pitch:

Team % 1-0 % 0-1 Rank of %
PA got ahead 0-1
CHI 46.5 53.5 6
PHI 46.9 53.1 8
SFG 47.8 52.2 14
SDP 47.0 53.0 9
HOU 45.6 54.4 2
STL 45.7 54.3 4
NYM 46.8 53.2 7
WSN 47.8 52.2 13
ARI 43.4 56.6 1
LAD 45.6 54.4 3
COL 47.3 52.7 11
PIT 50.4 49.6 16
MIL 47.4 52.6 12
CIN 46.3 53.7 5
FLA 48.1 51.9 15
ATL 47.3 52.7 10

Again, Arizona and LA are really good, but are joined by staffs with worse numbers like the Cardinals, Astros and Reds atop the list. The Pirates are still bad, but so are the Brewers.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are still not especially good at getting ahead of opposing hitters despite all they have going on during the first pitch.

JA Happ got the start for the Phillies yesterday as the Phils topped the Yankees, 8-3. With the win the Phils are 9-11 in spring training.

Happ went five innings, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks. Only one of the runs was earned and he dropped his official spring ERA to 3.15. Condrey, Eyre and Lidge all threw scoreless innings. Koplove pitched the ninth and allowed a run on two hits and a walk. The outing puts his ERA on the year at 1.42.

Ibanez was 3-for-3 with two doubles in the game. He’s hitting .263. Bruntlett also had a big day, 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles to raise his average to .340. Cairo hit a three-run homer in his only at-bat in the game. Giles was 1-for-1 with a double but is still hitting just .182. Donald 0-for-3 with a walk. Paulino is hitting .185 after going 1-for-4 with a strikeout.

Toronto this afternoon with Chan Ho Park and his worrisome hamstring expected to pitch.

Kyle Kendrick will not be the fifth starter for the Phillies to start the season. Kendrick, Lou Marson and Brad Harman were sent to minor league camp yesterday. Also sent to minor league camp were Donald, Borkowski and Woods.

This suggests that Hamels could start the fourth game of the season.

On Sunday night Team USA lost to Japan 9-4 and were eliminated in the World Baseball Classic. Jimmy Rollins had a fantastic game, going 4-for-4 with a triple, a walk and a stolen base. Shane Victorino did not get an at-bat in the game. The US team was eliminated with the loss. Rollins hit 417/500/750 in 24 at-bats in the tournament. He also stole four bases. Victorino got 19 at-bats and hit 316/350/316.

Japan beat Korea last night, 5-3, to win the tournament for the second-straight time. Ichiro had a two-run single in the top of the tenth to break a 3-3 tie.

Can’t tell the players without a program (and they sometimes look kind of similar even with a program)

For bullpen candidates Dave Borkowski, Gary Majewski and Mike Koplove, here’s the percentage of hitters over their careers who have struck out, walked or been hit by a pitch, hit a fly ball, ground ball, line drive or bunted:


Majewski has actually had a higher percentage of the batters he’s faced hit ground balls than Koplove. He’s also struck people out less regularly than Koplove (and walked them less frequently), though, and the rate at which he’s given up fly balls is much higher than the rate for Koplove. If you look just at the batters that don’t walk or strike out, Koplove’s ground ball rate is a little better. Of the batters they’ve faced that did not walk or strike out, Koplove has gotten 51.7% of those batters to hit a ground ball while Majewski has gotten 49.4% of them to hit a ground ball.

Still, though, when you factor in all of the hitters, Majewski has been more likely to get a hitter to hit the ball on the ground than Koplove over his career.

Here’s what right-handed batters have done against the three over their careers:


Koplove clearly has the best numbers against righties of the group.

Here’s what they’ve done against lefties:


The average and slugging are still impressive for Koplove against lefties, but the on-base percentage takes a huge hit. Over his career, Koplove has faced 620 right-handed hitters and walked just 26 of them — that’s about 4.2%. He’s walked 77 of the 465 left-handed hitters he’s faced, which is about 16.6%. That’s too many.

Lefties have hit 294/385/472 against Borkowski over his career, which makes him tough to use against left-handed batters.

Oddly, by OPS, Majewski has been a little better against lefties than righties over his career. Righties have hit 309/368/438 (.806 OPS) against him while lefties have hit 291/367/420 against him (.787). Of the three he has also faced lefties with the least regularity — 40.5% of the hitters he’s faced have been left-handed compared to 42.9% for Koplove and 44.3% for Borkowski.

Yesterday the Phils and Blue Jays played to a 7-7 tie. The Phils are 7-10 with one tie in spring training.

Happ got the start and went four innings, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk. Happ gave up two home runs in the game, a two-run shot Brad Emaus and a solo homer to Jason Lane. Majewski followed Happ and threw two innings, allowing a run on two hits and a walk to raise his spring ERA to 2.00. The Phillies led 7-4 to start the top of the ninth, but Joe Bisenius gave up three runs in the frame.

Jayson Werth broke a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the seventh with a three-run homer. He was 2-for-4 on the day and is hitting .357 this spring. Cairo went 0-for-5 to drop his average to .303. Donald 0-for-1. Coste 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and was twice hit by a pitch. He’s 0-for-8 in spring training. Paulino is hitting .200 after going 0-for-3. Mayberry went 1-for-3 with a single.

The Phillies play the Marlins today.

The Phillies have three off-days between their first game of the regular season and their eighth game of the regular season. All that rest could allow them to carry just 11 pitchers to start the year, a possibility Manuel talks about here.

Roundtable discussion of Phillies bloggers at We Should be GM’s.

Ski trip

Chan Ho Park has been impressive in the battle for the fifth starter job so far this spring. If he were to win the job it would open another spot in the bullpen and righties Mike Koplove, Gary Majewski and Dave Borkowski would be among the top contenders for the opening.

That’s a lot of skis and it can be tough to tell them apart.

Majewski is 29-years-old. Koplove and Borkowski are both 32.

Koplove basically hasn’t pitched in the majors in the last three years, throwing just nine innings. Borkowski and Majewski have both thrown at least 23 innings in each of the past three seasons.

Borkowski has started 21 games in his career. His most recent start came in 2004. Majewski and Koplove have only worked in relief.

All three have been very good in spring training so far. Here are their numbers:









0 2 3 4


0 1 1 5


1 5 1 6


And here are the career numbers for the three pitchers:
































Koplove has the best career numbers, but he’s hardly pitched in the majors over the past three seasons. Here’s is what the three have done over the past three years:






























All three have some ugly numbers. Advantage Koplove, though, for not pitching much. He didn’t pitch at all in 2008 and threw six innings for the Indians in ’07 and three for Arizona in ’06.

Here’s what opposing batters have done against them over their careers:

Borkowski 1564 .285 .357 .469 25.1 9.5 16.9 9.4 3.1
Koplove 1085 .246 .331 .359 21.3 9.5 16.1 5.7 1.8
Majewski 1092 .302 .367 .430 26.6 8.2 13.0 7.6 1.6

Despite being about three years older than Majewski, Koplove has faced about the same number of hitters over his career.

Majewski has issued walks less regularly than Koplove or Borkowski over his career, but has also struck batters out at a lower rate. Borkowski, who has spent the last three years pitching in Houston, has allowed extra-base hits and home runs at a much higher rate than the other two.

Borkowski has pitched seven seasons and never posted an ERA+ of 100 or better.

Majewski was solid in 2004 and 2005, throwing 107 innings with a 3.11 ERA and a 1.40 ratio. He has struggled since, throwing to a 7.14 ERA over the past two seasons after an uninspired 2006. .302 is a lot for opponents to hit against you over your career — it’s a little worrisome when your ratio is 1.40 when you’re at your best.

Koplove was effective from 2001 through 2004. He threw 196 innings for Arizona, pitching to a 3.44 ERA and a 1.28 ratio in those years combined. He was hit hard in 2005, putting up a 5.07 ERA and hasn’t pitched more than six innings in a season since.

Yesterday the Phils beat the Reds 8-1 to improve to 7-10 in spring training.

Myers was fantastic. He went 5 2/3 shutout innings. He allowed four hits and didn’t walk a batter. He struck out seven. Borkowski finished off the sixth for him, walking a batter before getting a strikeout to end the inning. Durbin and Condrey each pitched a scoreless frame to keep their spring ERAs at 0.00.

Mayberry had two more hits, going 2-for-5 with a double. Ozuna 1-for-1 with an RBI. Cairo 0-for-1. Giles’s average is down to .143 after an 0-for-2. Ibanez was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. Stairs was 1-for-4 with a double and three RBI.

The Phillies play the Blue Jays this afternoon. JA Happ is expected to pitch.

Team USA eliminated Puerto Rico last night with a dramatic win in the World Baseball Classic. Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Victorino started the inning with a single off of JC Romero. Brian Roberts moved Victorino to second with another single off Romero. Romero got Derek Jeter to fly out for the first out before walking Jimmy Rollins to load the bases with one down and the US team down by two runs. Fernando Cabrera replaced Romero and walked Kevin Youkilis to force in a run. 5-4 with the bases still loaded. David Wright singled to right, scoring Roberts and Rollins and giving the US a 6-5 win.

Rollins was 0-for-2 with two walks in the game. Victorino 3-for-4 with an RBI. Romero went 2/3 of an inning for Puerto Rico and was charged with three runs on two hits and a walk. For the tournament, Romero made three appearances. In 2 2/3 innings he allowed three runs on four hits and a walk.

The US plays Venezuela tonight in a non-elimination game.

Mexico was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic with a 7-4 loss to Cuba on Monday night. Rodrigo Lopez did not pitch in the game. He made two appearances in the tournament, allowing a run over two innings on two hits and a walk.

Rich Dubee says it’s a long shot that Hamels will pitch on opening day. I would guess that Hamels isn’t a long shot in the same way that you and I are, though.

This offers encouraging news about Hamels’ elbow.

And not just that, but the hide-your-eyes per nine innings for Kendrick continues to skyrocket

Yesterday I mentioned that Chan Ho Park lowered his walk rate last year compared to his career numbers while pitching mostly in relief for LA. That’s a good sign, because overall relief pitchers tend to walk more hitters than starting pitcher.

Here’s how many walks per nine innings NL starters and relievers have issued over the past five seasons, along with the numbers for the Phillies:


As you can see, the blue lines for the NL walk rates are pretty stable, with the relievers consistently walking more hitters than the starters. The lines for the Phillies flail about a little more. Phillies starters actually walked batters at a higher rate than their relievers in 2004 — that season the Phils relievers were outstanding at preventing walks, they had the third best rate in the NL, while the starting pitchers were closer to the league average.

Finally, the tremendous success of the 2008 bullpen wasn’t built on preventing walks. The ’08 pen actually walked batters at a rate slightly higher than the league average. They did manage to reduce the walk rate significantly from 2007, however.

Kyle Kendrick. Kyle Kendrick did not have a good day yesterday. He got bombed for the second straight outing as the Phils lost to the Braves 12-10. The Phillies are 4-7 in spring training.

Coming off a weak start on Friday where he was charged with four runs in 2 2/3 innings, Kendrick went three innings yesterday and allowed eight runs on ten hits and a walk. Over his last two starts he’s allowed 12 earned runs on 15 hits and a walk in 5 2/3 innings. That’s a 19.06 ERA and a 2.82 ratio.

Yesterday Clint Sammons hit two home runs off of him, a two-run homer in the second and a solo shot in the fourth. Kendrick started the fourth down 4-1 and failed to retire any of the four batters he faced in the inning before being pulled.

Kendrick is likely to get three more starts in spring training. But if he ever was in the driver seat for the fifth starter job he’s knocked himself way, way out of it and into a deep hole. To have a chance now he’s going to have to pitch a whole lot better than he has been and he’s also going to need Happ and Park, especially Park, to pitch worse.

Assuming that doesn’t happen, with Eyre as the sole lefty in the pen, unless the Phillies add another left-handed reliever before the start of the season I think Happ goes to the pen. That would make Park the fifth starter and open another (Park’s) spot in the bullpen. Gary Majewski, Dave Borkowski and Mike Koplove look to me to be the prime contenders for the extra spot in the pen if one opened. All three pitchers in the group have pitched well, but Koplove is the favorite in my eyes if one them makes the team. Majewski and Borkowski both pitched yesterday. Majewski was charged with two runs on three hits in an inning (only one of the runs was earned) to put his ERA at 1.29. Borkowski allowed a hit in a scoreless eighth to keep his official spring ERA at 0.00 — he’s allowed two hits in 3 2/3 innings this spring without walking a batter. He also threw a perfect inning against Team Canada last Wednesday, which doesn’t count towards his official stats.

Koplove, meanwhile, did not pitch yesterday but has tossed three innings without allowing a run or a hit. He has walked one.

Offensively, Mayberry homered again for the Phillies. He hit a solo shot in the fourth off of Jo-Jo Reyes and finished the day 2-for-3. Donald had another fantastic day as well, going 3-for-4 to raise his spring average to .379. Giles 0-for-2 with a walk. Cairo was 1-for-2 with a solo homer in the ninth.

Team USA lost to Venezuela yesterday, 5-3. Rollins was 0-for-4 with a walk and Victorino 1-for-2. It’s on to round two for the US team. They will play Puerto Rico on Saturday. Venezuela plays the Netherlands, also on Saturday.

Mexico beat Australia 16-1. Harman went 0-for-2. Drew Naylor got one out and was charged with three runs on two hits and a walk. Rodrigo Lopez pitched for Mexico in relief. He threw a perfect 1 1/3 innings, striking out two. Australia was eliminated with the loss. Harman went 3-for-9 with three singles and a walk in their three games. Naylor’s only action came against Mexico. Mexico plays Cuba today to determine the winner of Pool B, but both teams will advance to the second round and play either Japan (today’s winner) or Korea (today’s loser).

Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands 5-0 to win Pool D. Romero did not pitch.

Manuel talks about the possibility of keeping a veteran like Stairs or Cairo and letting Donald and Mayberry start the year in the minors in this article.

Feliz, Lidge and Durbin all played in an intrasquad game yesterday. The linked article also says that Manuel thinks Utley will play in a game next week.

The Phillies play Tampa Bay this afternoon. Happ is expected to pitch.

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