Tag: JC Romero

Second inning retch

Last week I looked at where the Phils pitching got worse by inning in 2009 compared to 2008. I also wanted to look at how their runs allowed per inning compared to the rest of the National League in 2009

The table below shows the Phillies rank in the league for runs allowed by inning per game in which the team played that inning (so, for example, a team that played 158 games in which they pitched the eighth inning would have their total runs allowed in the eighth divided by 158 while a team that played 161 games in which they pitched eighth inning would have their total runs allowed in the eighth divided by 161). Remember that the Phils were sixth-best in the NL in runs allowed overall, so any inning in which they were worse than sixth they were worse than they were overall compared to the rest of the league.

Inning NL Rank
Runs allowed per game
First 7
Second 10
Third 4
Fourth 6
Fifth 13
Sixth 5
Seventh 2
Eighth 8
Ninth 14

The post from last week showed that, compared to their 2008 season, the Phillies dropped off the most in the second, fifth and ninth innings. Those are the same innings the Phillies fared the worst in during the 2009 season when you compare their runs allowed per game to the other teams in the league.

Hamels is working on improving his curve ball and adding a cutter.

This suggests that Chan Ho Park had an opportunity to stay in Philadelphia and make $3 million on a one-year contract. He eventually signed with the Yankees and will make $1.2 million with a chance to make an additional $300,000 in incentives.

JC Romero is trying to be ready for opening day but needs to be realistic.

JA Happ will start tomorrow’s game against Florida State. Halladay, Kendrick and Andrew Carpenter will pitch Thursday against the Yankees. Hamels and Moyer on Friday against Toronto. Blanton on Saturday when the Phils play the Pirates.

Victorino has a sore shoulder and may not play in Wednesday’s game against Florida State.

This lists the Phillies top prospects as ranked by Baseball America for 2008, 2009 and 2010.


No way Jose

Ruben Amaro suggested last week that Phillies fans might want to relax about the lack of lefties in the pen and further suggested that righty Jose Contreras and his splitter might be a big weapon against lefties this season. I actually feel pretty relaxed about the pen, but more because I feel confident that Amaro and the team can address the issues and less because I think that Contreras and his splitter are the answer to what ills the Phils.

Last week I mentioned that the Phillies have been improving steadily against left-handed batters over the past couple of years. In 2007, by OPS against for lefties, the Phillies were the worst pitching team in the NL. In 2008 they made it to the middle of the pack and last season only three teams in the league held lefties to a lower OPS. The table below compares how the OPS against for left-handed batters against Contreras and his new fellow righty Danys Baez stacks up against what the Phillies overall did against left-handed pitching over the past three seasons.


OPS by left-handed hitters
Year vs PHI vs
Contreras
vs Baez
2009 .735 .713 .707
2008 .772 .826 Did not play
2007 .825 .887 1.004
       
Total ’07-’09 .778 .821 .823
       
Career - .757 .766

Good news, bad news there, but I think there’s a little more bad news. The worst news is that in 2007, when the Phillies allowed the worst OPS to left-handed batters in the NL, Baez and Contreras were both getting hit even harder than the Phils. The other bad news is that overall for the three year period, both pitchers have allowed a higher OPS overall that the Phils have.

The good news is that both pitchers had very good results against lefties in 2009. Lefties have a career line of 272/352/413 against Baez, but hit just 248/312/395 against him in ’09. A tiny .232 BAbip for Baez last year adds a lot of question makes to his nifty 1.13 ratio for the season, but while his BAbip for righties was a paltry .198, lefties managed a more reasonable .269. Even if you’re a total non-believer in batting average for balls in play, Baez still lowered his walk rate against lefties in ’09 compared to his career levels. In 2009 he walked 7.8% of the 141 lefties he faced. Coming into the season he had walked about 10.8% of the lefties he faced.

I’m a little more wary of the success that Contreras had against lefties last year. First of all, it came off of the ’07 and ’08 seasons in which lefties combined to hit an ugly 316/376/488 against him. Second, despite the success against lefties, Contreras just didn’t pitch very well last year. Between Chicago and the Rockies his ERA was up near five with a 1.47 ratio. While he did hold lefties to a snazzy .713 OPS against him, righties pounded away to a 292/350/450 tune. It’s going to be a whole lot more important for him to be able to get out righties in 2010. So even if you could take his ’09 success against lefties, if it comes with that kind of line from right-handed batters he’s going to have some trouble being successful in 2010.

This says that JC Romero will throw off a mound on Saturday and that Bastardo is the front-runner for the job of lefty out of the pen. It also suggests that Rich Dubee thinks that Bastardo’s future may be at the back of the bullpen.

The Phillies signed 32-year-old lefty Brad Wilkerson to a minor league contract. Wilkerson was an everyday player for the Expos/Nationals from 2002 through 2005 and hit 32 home runs for Montreal in 2004. He has a career 247/350/440 line over about 3,700 at-bats but has hit 226/311/411 in 1,063 plate appearances since the end of the 2005 season.

Lidge’s prospects for being ready by opening day don’t seem particularly bright.


Phils going to need to find some new friends to get by with a little help from

Last week I mentioned that while the Phillies got worse at preventing runs overall last year, using opponent batting statistics they still got better against left-handed batters.

A couple more things about that.

First, a big part of their success against left-handed hitting had to do with some right-handed pitchers that 1) were great against lefties in 2009 and 2) aren’t going to be on the team in 2010. Lefties hit .172 and on-based .262 against Condrey, who faced about as many left-handed batters in ’09 as Scott Eyre (65 for Condrey and 67 for Eyre). Lefties hit 229/283/313 against Tyler Walker. Brett Myers saw most of his action as a starter but also made eight appearances in relief — overall for the year, lefties hit 233/314/360 against him.

Here’s what that trio did combined against left-handed batting in 2009:

Condrey, Walker and Myers combined vs
lefties in 2009
PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
289 .219 .296 .332 .628

They were really good against lefties. Of those 289 batters faced, about 59% were faced by Myers and he saw about 90% of his action as a starter. So we don’t want to overstate the impact on the bullpen. Still, it’s true that the Phillies had good numbers overall against lefties last year and a big part of that was because of the work of some now departed right-handed pitchers.

The second thing about lefties in the pen comes with a small sample size warning, but in his limited action against lefties in 2009, Romero was just terrible. The 32 left-handed batters that he faced hit 308/438/538 against him. He came into the season having allowed about one home run to every 93 left-handed hitters he faced and allowed two to the 32 lefties he faced in ’09. Scott Eyre was the king of getting lefties out in relief for the Phils in ’09 — they hit a paltry 210/269/355 against him. The tiny number of lefties that Romero faced in 2009 makes it hard to worry too much about what they did against him. He’s been fantastic against left-handed hitters over his career, holding them to a fantastic 215/310/293 line. Let’s hope that proves to be the much better measuring stick than what he did in limited action last season.

Chan Ho Park has agreed to a one-year deal with the Yankees worth $1.2 million. Contreras will get $1.5 million from the Phillies this year and Baez $5.25 million over the next two years.

This says the Phillies have maintained contact with Pedro Martinez and considers the possibility that the Phils will add a back of the rotation starter. Moyer looks like a sure thing to me to join Halladay, Hamels, Blanton and Happ in the rotation if he’s healthy.


Doing the right thing harder than expected for Phillies pitchers last season

In 2008, when they won the World Series, the Phillies were the third-best NL team at preventing runs. Only the Cubs and the Dodgers allowed fewer. In 2009, the Phillies were pretty good at preventing runs compared to the rest of the NL again, but dropped to sixth-best in the league.

Returning to the issue of left-handed pitchers, the drop off from the 2008 season to the 2009 season had a lot more to do with what Phillies did against right-handed batters than what they did against left-handed batters. Despite the fact that they got worse overall compared to the rest of the league in 2008, Phillies actually got better against left-handed hitting in 2009. They got a lot worse against right-handed hitting.

For each of the past four seasons, here’s what left and right-handed batters have done against Phillies pitching as well as the OPS rank for each (for the rankings, a ’1′ means the best pitching team in the league against that side batting by OPS and a ’16′ means the worst pitching team in the league against that side batting by OPS).


Vs left-handed batters

Vs right-handed batters
Year OPS
allowed
Rank Year OPS
allowed
Rank
2009 .735 4 2009 .769 12
2008 .772 9 2008 .717 5
2007 .825 16 2007 .780 12
2006 .814 11 2006 .788 14

With the exception of the drop against lefties from 2006 to 2007, everything had been trending very nicely for the Phillies pitching against batters from both sides until righties started to hammer the Phils in 2009.

With the question of who the lefties are going to be out of the bullpen, I think you have to wonder if the Phils are going to give some of that progress back in 2010. The bigger issue, though, seems to be if they’re going to be able to get righties out this year. Cause there are a lot of ‘em.

This suggests Romero may be ready to pitch in spring training games by the second week of March.

Pitchers and catchers reported yesterday. Today is the official beginning of spring training workouts.


What if they threw a bullpen and nobody came?

It sure seems like the Phillies are going to need to find a bunch of fellas to pitch out of their bullpen in the next couple of months. Right now it looks like they have five (Madson, Durbin, Lidge, Baez and Romero). Of those five, two, Lidge and Romero, may not be ready for the start of the season.

There were 18 players who pitched in relief for the Phillies in 2009. The table below shows the percentage of the team’s innings they each threw in relief and the percentage of the batters the Phils faced in relief that were faced by that pitcher. For the pitchers that appeared solely as relievers (didn’t start any games), the aLI column shows the average leverage index for the pitcher while pitching in relief as calculated by Baseball Reference. The site talks a little about what that stat means here, but basically it reflects the fact that Brad Lidge pitched in much more important situations for the Phils last year than Sergio Escalona or Steven Register — one is average, above one is more important situations and closer to zero is less important situations. Here’s the list, which is ordered by the percentage of innings in relief that were thrown by the pitcher:


Player

% IP

% batters faced

aLI

Madson

15.7

14.9

1.626

Durbin

14.2

14.7

0.828

Lidge

11.9

13.2

2.064

Park

10.2

9.6

Condrey

8.5

8.1

1.061

Walker

7.2

7.0

0.412

Eyre

6.1

6.0

1.133

Taschner

6.0

6.7

0.614

Happ

4.4

4.2

Moyer

3.8

3.3

Romero

3.4

3.4

1.601

Kendrick

3.0

2.9

Escalona

2.8

2.8

0.430

Myers

1.4

1.4

Lopez

0.5

0.8
 

Register

0.4

0.5

0.015

Carpenter

0.3

0.4
 

Bastardo

0.2

0.2
 

To the degree that there’s good news there, the Phillies will bring back the three guys they used most in relief in 2009 for the 2010 season. The bad news is that of those three, one, Lidge, was absolutely terrible last year and another, Durbin, was pretty bad.

The other thing that sure seems worrisome is that after Lidge there’s a group of five guys, Park, Condrey, Walker, Eyre and Taschner, who all seem sure or almost sure not to return for 2010. So far the Phillies have brought in Danys Baez to help fill in for those guys, but that’s not going to be enough.

Baez isn’t left-handed, either. Hopefully Romero is back and can be counted on early in the season, but it doesn’t seem like a sure thing. Lefties combined to throw 131 innings in relief for the Phillies in 2009. Here’s how those innings were divided up:

  % IP
Eyre 22.90
Taschner 22.39
Happ 16.54
Moyer 14.25
Romero 12.72
Escalona 10.43
Bastardo 0.76

Of that group, Eyre and Taschner look like locks not to return. Moyer and Happ will be back, but I’m not sure you want to count on either of those guys carrying a big load in relief in 2010. Let’s hope JC Romero can be the guy, but that’s another thing I don’t think you want to be counting on. Escalona looks likely to see an expanded role in 2010, but even if he does the Phillies are going to need more.

Right-handed relievers threw 361 innings for the Phils. Here’s how those innings broke down:

  % IP
Madson 21.42
Durbin 19.30
Lidge 16.25
Park 13.85
Condrey 11.63
Walker 9.79
Kendrick 4.16
Myers 1.94
Lopez 0.74
Register 0.55
Carpenter 0.37

Again, Madson, Lidge and Durbin are back, but it’s not clear who is going to make up for the 127 1/3 innings that Park, Condrey and Walker combined to throw in relief in 2009. They were really good, too, combining to throw to a 2.83 ERA and 1.18 ratio. Baez again is surely a big part of the answer — he did throw 71 2/3 innings last year, but didn’t pitch at all in 2008 and had a 6.44 ERA in 2007. I don’t know how much or how well he’s going to pitch in 2010, but I’m guessing against 127 1/3 innings with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.18 ratio. It would solve some problems, though.


Run differential makes you wonder how long third place is going to be the home of the Braves

I’m starting to wonder if our time spent worrying about the Phillies third base situation could be better spent worrying about the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves went 86-76 in 2009, the seventh-best record in the NL and the third best in the NL East behind the Phils and the Fish.

Their run differential tells a different if less important story. In 2009 the Phillies scored 111 more runs than they allowed. The second-place Marlins scored six more runs than they allowed. The Braves scored 94 more than they allowed.

Do this. Don’t really, cause I already did it. I mean, read what I did and then do it if you think it’s important. Find the average runs scored per game and the average runs allowed per game for each team. For each team, divide each of those numbers by the average number of runs scored and allowed by the teams in their league and combine the two numbers.

For example, the Diamondbacks play in the NL. The average NL team scored 4.43 runs per game and allowed 4.49 runs per game in ’09. The Snakes scored 4.44 and allowed 4.83. 4.44/4.43 is 1.00226 (a tiny bit better than average) and 4.49/4.83 is 1.07572 (worse than the average for the league). Then you combine those numbers by adding .00226 and -.07572 and you get a total for the Diamondbacks that you can compare to all the other teams you’ve done it for. If you do it for all 30 teams and put them in a list it looks like this:

  1. LAD
  2. NYY
  3. PHI
  4. BOS
  5. ATL
  6. LAA
  7. STL
  8. COL
  9. SFG
  10. CHC
  11. MIN
  12. TBR
  13. TEX
  14. FLA
  15. TOR
  16. DET
  17. OAK
  18. CHW
  19. MIL
  20. CIN
  21. ARI
  22. SEA
  23. NYM
  24. CLE
  25. HOU
  26. SDP
  27. PIT
  28. BAL
  29. WSN
  30. KCR

I don’t think there’s much argument that the Dodgers were better than the Yankees in 2009, but they did out run differential them. 169 for LA and 162 for the Yankees. Dodgers put up a Pythagorean record of 99-63 compared to 95-67 for the Yankees.

Anyway, it’s the Braves that are the focus of this post and the point here is that show up in that list higher than I would have expected. A lot higher. They come in ahead of all the teams in the NL except the Phils and Dodgers, including the playoff teams Colorado and St Louis.

After the Dodgers, Phils, Braves, Cardinals and Rockies, there is a huge drop off to the team with the sixth-best run differential in the league. The Rockies had the fifth-best run differential and they scored 89 more runs than they allowed. The Giants were sixth-best and scored 46 more than they allowed.

It hasn’t been so long since the Braves were dominating the NL East. Over the past ten years the Phillies have won it three times, the Mets once and the Braves six times. Four times in those ten seasons a team won the division with a run differential that was worse than or about the same as the 94 for the ’09 Braves — in 2006 the Phillies won it with a run differential of 71, in ’05 the Braves won the NL East with a run differential of 95 and in ’00 and ’01 they the scored 86 and 96 more runs than they allowed while winning the division.

I think the biggest thing to worry about when it comes to the Braves is if they start to get consistent pitching.

Offensively the Braves have been in the top six in the NL in runs scored in each of the past seven seasons. Their pitching, on the other hand, has been all over the place but was very strong in 2009. Here’s a look at their rank among NL teams in runs scored and runs allowed for each of the past six seasons:

Year NL Rank R NL Rank RA
2009 6 4
2008 6 12
2007 3 6
2006 2 11
2005 4 5
2004 T-5 3

Atlanta’s pitching was dramatically better in 2009 than it had been in 2008. After allowing 778 in ’08 they allowed just 641, 137 fewer, in 2009. Only the Giants improved more at preventing runs between ’08 and ’09 in the NL.

So what else do the Braves need to do? Not a lot. It’s a big if, but If they can keep pitching like they did in 2009 they’re just going to need a little more offense. And that’s scary news given that Chipper hit .264 last year and the team got miserable production from both corner outfield positions.

This suggests that the Phillies may consider trading Joe Blanton. That sure seems like a bad idea. It also mentions pitchers John Smoltz and Brandon Lyon and outfielder Brian Giles as players the Phillies might be interested in. I would be thrilled if the Phillies added Brandon Lyon and a lot less thrilled if they added either of the other two.

Lyon declined arbitration from the Tigers and this suggests he may have made around $6 million if he had not. I am going to be very surprised if the Phillies pay Lyon more than $6 million this year.

This says that Lidge and Romero may not be ready for opening day and suggests that bringing back Park is a high priority for the Phils.


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