Tag: Eric Bruntlett

Two out of three ain’t bad (and six out of seven is even more ain’t badder)

The Phillies don’t look like a hot team. They win ugly games where their starting pitcher gives up five runs in an inning. 12-5 games, 10-6 games. Their starters don’t just look terrible in spots, they’ve been terrible consistently.

What they do manage to do, though, is win. They’ve won six of their last seven thanks in large part to an offense that has put up 49 runs in those six wins. Until they get their starting pitching straightened out they’re going to need all those runs — in five of the last six games they’ve won they’ve allowed at least five runs. They don’t win any pitcher’s duels because they don’t play in any — they’ve won one game so far this season in which they’ve scored less than five runs.

The Phillies are 22-17 after taking two of three from the Reds in Cincinnati. Five games above .500 matches their best mark of the season. They are in first place in the NL East, 1 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Mets.

The Phillies won game one of the set 4-3. The Phils scored three times against Johnny Cueto in the top of the fifth to pull ahead 4-1. Hamels gave up two in the bottom of the sixth, but Condrey, Madson and Lidge combined to toss three shutout innings to make the one-run lead stand up.

Cincinnati took game two 5-1 as Moyer’s fourth try for his 250th career win came up short. Moyer had his best outing of his four May starts, but it wasn’t especially good and the Phillies didn’t do much of anything with the bats against Aaron Harang. Ibanez hit a solo homer in the fourth to get the Phillies on the board at 3-1. Moyer made it through six innings, but the Reds opened up a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh with two runs off of Durbin and held on to win.

The Phils won game three 12-5. Blanton kept the Reds off the board for the first four innings and the Phils jumped out to a early 6-0 lead. Cincinnati scored five times off of Blanton in the bottom of the fifth, getting a three-run homer from Brandon Phillips, but the Phils put up six more unanswered runs. Rollins, Utley and Ibanez, the top three hitters in the Phillies lineup, combined to go 9-for-15 with eight RBI in the game.

Overall, the Phils threw 26 innings in the series with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.50 ratio.

The starting pitching continues not to impress. 5.82 ERA and a 1.47 ratio over 17 innings. The starters gave up four homers in their 17 innings.

Hamels got the start in game on and allowed three runs on five hits and two walks over seven innings. He struck out seven.

Moyer has a 7.62 ERA after eight starts. He allowed three runs on nine hits and a walk in game two. He has a 2.13 ratio in May.

Blanton cruised through the first four innings of game three before the Reds scored five runs against him in the bottom of the fifth. He’s been awful this season, throwing to a 7.11 ERA and a 1.67 ratio over eight starts.

The bullpen threw nine innings in the series and allowed two runs, both of which were charged to Durbin in game two. 2.00 ERA and a 1.56 ratio. They walked seven in nine innings, which is too many, but didn’t allow a home run (which means you might be able to get away with it).

Eyre started the bottom of the seventh in game three with the Phils up 11-5. The first two men he faced reached on a walk and a single, but he got Phillips to hit into a double-play and struck Lance Nix out to end the frame.

Eyre hasn’t been charged with an earned run in his nine appearances in May. He has allowed one run, which was unearned, over 6 2/3 innings.

Taschner pitched the bottom of the eighth in game two with the Phils down 5-1. He hit a batter and allowed one hit, a single, but kept the Reds off the board.

Escalona entered the bottom of the seventh in game two with two outs, a man on third and the Phillies down 5-1. He struck Jay Bruce out to end the inning.

He also pitched the bottom of the ninth in game three. He entered with a 12-5 lead and set the Reds down in order.

He’s allowed one hit in 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief on the season.

Durbin started the seventh inning of game two with the Phillies down 3-1. The Reds scored twice against him on a single, a walk and a two-run triple. Durbin got just two outs in the inning before Escalona relieved him to pitch to the lefty Bruce with two outs and a man on third.

Durbin has allowed five earned runs over 4 2/3 innings over his last four appearances.

Condrey started the bottom of the seventh in game one with a 4-3 lead. He allowed a walk and a stolen base, but kept the Reds off the board.

In game three he took over for Blanton in the bottom of the sixth with a 7-5 lead. He allowed a walk and a single in the frame, but did not allow Cincy to score. He hasn’t been charged with a run in any of his last four appearances. Opponents are hitting .198 against him for the year.

Park made his second relief appearance of the year in the bottom of the eighth in game three. Pitching with a 12-5 lead, he allowed two walks but did not give up a run.

Madson started the eighth inning of game one with a 4-3 lead. He allowed a leadoff single to Phillips, but got the next three.

Lidge came on for the save in game one, entering in the ninth with a 4-3 lead. He allowed a one-out single to Alex Gonzalez, which was followed by a walk to pinch-hitter Lance Nix. He got the save, though, striking out Willy Tavares and getting Jerry Hairston on a fly ball to center.

Sadly enough, despite getting 12 runs yesterday and winning by five it was still a long day for the pen due to Blanton’s early exit. Condrey threw 22 pitches yesterday and Park 25. Escalona has pitched on back-to-back days, but threw just three pitches in game two and just 13 yesterday. Madson and Lidge both pitched in game one for the Phils, but not in games two or three.

The Phillies scored 17 runs in the three-game set.

In terms of the lineup, Utley is now regularly hitting second with Ibanez behind him. Victorino has been dropped to sixth.

Rollins went 4-for-6 yesterday and was 5-for-14 with a double and two RBI in the series. He’s hitting 234/275/329 for the season.

Utley was 1-for-8 in the first two games before going 3-for-4 with four RBI yesterday. 4-for-12 with a double and a home run in the series. 295/432/597.

Ibanez went 3-for-12 with a double and two home runs in the series. 349/410/724 for the season. If he slugs .724 for the whole year it would be a career-high. His 1.134 OPS is the best of all players in either league. He’s on pace to hit 62 home runs with 166 RBI.

Howard went 3-for-11 with two walks, a double and two home runs in the set. 266/349/545.

Werth did not start yesterday with Stairs in the lineup against righty Micah Owings. He went 0-for-10 with four strikeouts in the series and is hitting 272/371/500 for the year.

Victorino was 3-for-11 with two doubles. 257/306/419 for the season. 229/273/361 in May.

Feliz started the first two games of the series with Dobbs playing third yesterday against the righty. 3-for-9 with two doubles in the series. He’s hitting 310/370/434 for the year.

Ruiz caught games one and three of the series with Coste behind the plate for Moyer’s start. 1-for-8 with a double and a walk in the series. 236/373/327 for the season.

Coste started the middle game. He’s hitting 241/333/414 after going 1-for-3 with a double. He’s 6-for-his-last-14 with three doubles and a home run.

Bruntlett was 0-for-2 in the series. 129/194/258 for the season. 1-for-15 since April 26.

Dobbs started at third yesterday in game three against the righty Owings and went 1-for-2 with two walks and a home run. The homer was his first extra-base hit of the season. He’s hitting 143/250/229 for the year after going 1-for-3 with a homer and two walks in the series.

Stairs got a start in right yesterday. He went 0-for-1 with a walk in his only action of the set. He’s hitting 304/515/609. He would be the obvious choice to DH against the Yankees this weekend except that New York will start lefties CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte in two of the three games. The problem is further complicated by the fact that the Phillies are carrying an extra reliever, giving them a short bench. My guess is that if the Phillies don’t make a roster move that Bruntlett will DH against the lefties, which isn’t really what you’re looking for.


All that plus you never have to throw stuff at your TV cause the Phillies just used Bruntlett to pinch-run for him in the sixth inning of a tie game

Raul Ibanez has had a fantastic start to 2009. So far he has been inarguably better than Pat Burrell was last year with both the bat and with the glove. The table below shows Ibanez’s putouts and assists for the season, along with the numbers he would post if he continues to record them at that rate for the entire season and for the 1198 1/3 innings that Burrell played in left last season. It also shows Burrell’s numbers in left from ’08, the total numbers for all PHI left-fielders last year and the numbers for the ’08 left fielders that weren’t Burrell:

Player INN PO A E PO/INN
Ibanez, 2009 268.0 58 2 0 .216
Ibanez w/PB
innings
1198.3 259 9 0 .216
Ibanez season
pace
1447.2 313 11 0 .216
Burrell, 2008 1198.3 202 12 2 .169
All PHI LF ’08 1449.7 260 13 5 .179
Non-Burrell PHI
LF ’08
251.3 58 1 3 .231

So if Ibanez were to continue to make plays at the rate he has so far for 2009, and played as many innings this year as Burrell did last year, he would record 57 more putouts while making three fewer assists and two less errors.

The difference between Ibanez’s putouts per inning and Burrell’s is about .047. So Ibanez is creating about 1/20th more of an out every inning than Burrell. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but fifty-seven putouts over less than a year does. Ibanez has been catching balls at a rate that betters Burrell’s numbers from ’08 and is better than the putout rate for Phillies’ leftfielders overall last year. His putout rate is not as good as the non-Burrell Phillies who manned left last season — that group, which played 251 1/3 innings, includes Taguchi, Werth, Bruntlett, Bohn and Dobbs.

In 2008, Phillies left fielders, led by Burrell, made fewer plays per nine innings than the NL average. Baseball-Reference tracks the stats, and in 2008 the league average for range factor per nine innings was 1.91. Led by Burrell, the Phillies’ was 1.69. In 2009, the Phillies are getting more plays per nine innings from their left fielders (only Ibanez to this point) than the league average. The league average for range factor per nine innings in 1.92 and the mark for the Phillies is 2.01.

Finally, like Burrell, Ibanez is primarily in left field for the purposes of his bat. Unlike Burrell, Ibanez gets to play the whole game, which is a huge advantage for the Phillies. Burrell played just under 83% of the innings in left field last year and was regularly pulled for defensive purposes. That’s a lot of at-bats for Eric Bruntlett as a corner outfielder, which isn’t really what you’re looking for. Ibanez has played every inning in left so far this year for the Phils.


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.


North henceforth

Have you heard tell of the legend of Greg Maddux that had him allowing guys to hit home runs off of him during spring training so he could surprise them with a totally different approach in at-bats that count? Let’s hope that’s what Jamie Moyer was doing yesterday. With everyone. Especially with Ryan Zimmerman. Moyer got blasted yesterday as the Nats beat the Phils 12-10 in the final Florida game of the Phils’ spring training.

The Phils head north with a 12-18-2 spring training record.

Moyer went just four innings, allowing nine runs on 11 hits and two walks. Zimmerman homered off of him twice. Austin Kearns hit a solo shot in the fourth. Taschner tried to keep pace but fell short, allowing just two home runs. He only pitched an inning, though, so it’s remarkable nonetheless. Cristian Guzman and Alex Cintron both got Taschner for solo shots in the eighth. Condrey tossed two scoreless frames to drop his spring ERA to 1.46. Durbin allowed a run on two hits in the seventh.

Feliz had a huge day with the bat for the Phils, 4-for-5 with three doubles and a home run. He started the day hitting 205/220/231 for spring training and ended it with a slightly more impressive 273/283/432 line. Howard hit his tenth home run of the spring, a two-run shot off of Scott Olsen in the first. Stairs was 2-for-3 with a three-run homer, raising his spring average to .255. Victorino went 1-for-4, dropping his average to .214.

The Phillies play Tampa Bay tonight in Philadelphia.

A number of Phillies have been outstanding in Florida, including:

  • Howard: 310/390/746 with ten home runs and a team high 24 RBI.
  • Bruntlett: 370/483/548. Two home runs and seven doubles. Led the Phils with 13 walks.
  • Rollins: 355/429/581 with three home runs in 31 at-bats.
  • Werth: 308/347/662 with six home runs.
  • Ruiz: 351/381/622 with a pair of home runs in 42 plate appearances.
  • Ibanez 308/372/462 in 78 at-bats.
  • Condrey: 1.46 ERA with a 1.05 ratio in ten appearances.
  • Blanton: Threw 22 innings with a 2.45 ERA and an 0.82 ratio. Walked just two batters all spring.
  • Park: 21 1/3 innings. 25 to 2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. 2.53 ERA and a 1.03 ratio.
  • Myers: 23 innings with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.26 ratio.
  • Koplove: Struck out nine in 9 1/3 innings with an 0.96 ERA and an 0.96 ratio (not a typo, his ERA and ratio were the same). Looking forward to seeing him pitch for the Phillies.
  • Madson: 2.03 ERA but a 1.43 ratio. Did not walk a batter in 13 1/3 innings, but allowed 19 hits. Opponents hit .328 against him.

There were some guys who struggled, too:

  • Coste: 4-for-32 with four singles and 13 strikeouts. 125/275/125. He did draw five walks.
  • Victorino: 9-for-42. 214/267/310. Didn’t steal a base and drove in just two runs.
  • Dobbs: 13-for-50 with three doubles. 260/333/320.
  • Moyer: Made five starts in which he threw to an 8.27 ERA with a 1.94 ratio. He also struck out 17 in 20 2/3 innings, so let’s cross our fingers he was just messing around.
  • Taschner: Ten appearances between the Giants and Phils he put up a 6.75 ERA and a 2.53 ratio. He also allowed three runs that were unearned. In 10 2/3 innings he issued 14 walks. I’m writing that one again, just because it seems important: In 10 2/3 innings he issued 14 walks. I truly have my fingers crossed about Taschner, but it’s pretty hard for me to see that one working out for the Phils. I’m still holding out some hope they let him start the season in AAA, cause I would be very surprised if he makes a positive contribution in the short term.
  • Eyre: Struck out 15 in ten innings, but posted a 6.30 ERA and a 1.30 ratio. His numbers suffered from a single terrible outing against the Yankees on March 26 when he gave up five runs in an inning.

Chris Coste’s family and Fargo home are safe from flood waters. Now if he could just get Shane Victorino to stop calling him in the middle of the night.

Roster-shaping events are surely coming. I’ll try to post the links as I see them, but there are a host of sites that are better if you’re looking to get the news first, including High Cheese, The Phillies Zone and The Zo Zone.

Baseball-Reference has a new look.

Update: Jon Heyman says that Gary Sheffield will sign with the Mets.

More update: Happ and Taschner have made the opening day roster to pitch out of the bullpen. Majewski will go to the minors after the exhibition games. Ugh.

Ad: Ticketcity has tickets for tonight’s game and regular season games.


Matt Stairs shows those mean kids on the Royals who voted him least-likely-to-be-a-fourth-outfielder-ever-again back in 2005 a thing or two

A word or two on the outfield depth of the Phillies as the team is currently constructed. I’m going to go with two words actually, not and good.

The Phillies front office is probably hard at work trying to add another outfielder. And well they should be. Here’s a brief review of the Phillies depth in the outfield:

Things start out really well with Ibanez, Victorino and Werth. Very nice. Things go downhill from there. Fourth outfielder: Matt Stairs? Fifth outfielder: Eric Bruntlett? Sixth outfielder: Who knows? John Mayberry?

Fourth outfielder is the biggest problem there. Matt Stairs is 41-years-old and made 19 appearances in the outfield last season. He’s not a good defensive player. Right now it sure looks like he’s the guy if Ibanez or Werth go down.

Eric Bruntlett is really a backup infielder and has a whole lot of problems hitting righties, to the tune of a career 221/286/310 line against right-handed pitching. He made more appearances at corner outfield positions last year for the Phillies than he had in all the other years of his career combined.

Who is third on the depth chart at center field behind Victorino and Werth is an interesting question. Whatever the answer is, it’s not good. I think it’s probably Bruntlett.

Who knows who’s behind those two as the sixth outfielder, but Mayberry is presumably up near the top of the list. In the minors he’s hit to a .255 average with a .330 on-base percentage in his career.

And then there’s Werth, who was absolutely fantastic last season and played an enormous part in helping the Phillies win the World Series. Hopefully he’ll be fantastic again. But. Here’s some thing it would be nice if they weren’t true about him, given that Matt Stairs is the fourth outfielder and whatnot: Number of times he’s gotten 400 plate appearances in a season: 1. Number of times he’s hit 20 home runs in a season: 1. Career batting average against right-handed pitching: .251. Number of times he’s driven in 70 runs in a season: 0.

So I think the Phillies need another outfielder, which is why paying Jenkins not to play seems pretty odd.

The consensus seems to be that Happ and Taschner will likely win the last two spots in the Phillies pen. That would give the Phils these 12 pitchers to start the season: Hamels, Myers, Blanton, Moyer, Park, Lidge, Madson, Durbin, Eyre, Condrey, Happ and Taschner.

My guess on the hitters is these 13: Howard, Utley, Rollins, Feliz, Dobbs, Coste, Ruiz, Ibanez, Bruntlett, Victorino, Werth, Stairs and Cairo with a good chance that the Phils bring in another hitter in the Cairo spot either before opening day or shortly after the season starts.

Mosebach was sent back to the Angels.

The Phils fell to the Yankees today, losing 8-5.

Kyle Drabeck got the start for the Phils and allowed five runs over 2 1/3 innings. More importantly, Happ followed Drabeck and was also hit hard. Happ allowed three runs in 2 2/3 innings on four hits and two walks. Hideki Matsui clubbed a two-run shot off of him in the fourth. Koplove threw a scoreless seventh to drop his ERA to 0.96. Eyre got his down to 6.30 with a scoreless eighth.

Werth was 1-for-2 with a walk and his sixth home run of the spring. Coste was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .133. Cairo is hitting .250 after going 0-for-4 with a walk. Rollins is hot at a good time. He went 2-for-3 with a double and is hitting .355.

The Phils play Washington tomorrow in their final game in Florida. They play the Devil Rays in Philadelphia on Friday night.

Update 4/2: Andruw Jones has likely made the Rangers, making it less likely he’ll be on the Phillies.


High on leverage

Baseball-Reference tracks high leverage hitting splits. The high leverage concept is based on work by Tom Tango, which is described here. Baseball-Reference suggests that high leverage plays account for about 20% of all plays.

Overall in 2008, Phillies hitters got 6,273 plate appearances in which they hit 255/332/438. Of those, 1,230 plate appearances were tagged as high leverage. In those plate appearances, the Phils as a team hit 247/332/423. A tiny bit worse, but about the same.

Here’s what key Phillies hitters did in high leverage situations in 2008, ranked by OPS:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Burrell 132 280 379 607 986
Dobbs 59 358 407 547 954
Howard 152 265 342 545 888
Feliz 92 291 378 506 884
Werth 102 276 373 448 821
Rollins 104 258 343 404 748
Utley 128 215 315 402 717
Victorino 106 240 305 396 701
Taguchi 19 250 333 313 646
Ruiz 72 238 300 333 633
Coste 74 215 268 323 591
Bruntlett 54 191 269 255 525
Jenkins 62 176 290 216 506

If you compare the player’s OPS in high leverage situations with their OPS overall for the year, there are six players whose OPS in high leverage situations were better than their OPS for the year:

Player High
Leverage OPS
OPS for
Season
Feliz 884 705
Dobbs 954 824
Burrell 986 875
Taguchi 646 580
Ruiz 633 620
Howard 888 881

And seven players from the group whose OPS overall for the year was better than their OPS in high leverage situations:

Player High
Leverage OPS
OPS for
Season
Rollins 748 786
Werth 821 861
Bruntlett 525 594
Victorino 701 799
Coste 591 748
Jenkins 506 694
Utley 717 915

The players at the top of that list have small differences between their OPS in high leverage situations and their OPS overall for the year. Rollins and Werth, for example, have very similar numbers compared to their overall OPS for the year. At the bottom of the list, Utley had a huge difference, posting a .717 OPS in high leverage situations compared to a .915 OPS overall.

Similarly, if you look at the late and close splits for the guys at the bottom of that list, Utley, Coste and Jenkins, the numbers are pretty ugly. For the guys at the top of the list, Feliz, Dobbs and Burrell, the numbers are much better. Late and close plate appearances are ones that come in the seventh inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck.

 
Late and close
Player PA AVG OBP SLG
Feliz 89 313 368 575
Dobbs 56 380 446 560
Burrell 111 295 441 636
Coste 69 220 288 271
Jenkins 63 148 270 204
Utley 117 221 353 347

Article about the outlook for the pen.

This article suggests that Dobbs could fill in at second if Utley doesn’t start the year. That actually seems like a fine idea. A Bruntlett/Dobbs platoon at second would put up pretty nice numbers offensively, the problem being that Dobbs can’t play both second and third at the same time against a righty.

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