Tag: Mike Zagurski

Who’s still on third?

The Phils got two extra-innings to try to beat the Atlanta Braves last night. The problem isn’t just that the Braves were better than the Phils in those innings, it’s that they have been playing better than the Phillies for a long time now. Since the start of August, 2009, the Braves are 83-60 in the regular season and the Phillies are 77-66. During those games the Braves have scored 133 more runs than they have allowed and the Phillies have scored 78 more runs than they have allowed.

The offense managed three hits last night as they tried to back a solid start from Hamels. Ibanez homered early, Howard tripled in the seventh and Victorino singled with two outs in the bottom of the eleventh with the Phils down by three runs. With the game tied at 3-3 in the seventh, the Phils couldn’t bring Howard in from third with nobody out. Atlanta pulled ahead 4-3 with a single and a double off of Herndon to start the eleventh and extended the lead when Eric Hinske hit a two-run homer off of Zagurski three batters later.

The Phillies are 43-39 on the season after losing to the Braves 6-3 in eleven innings last night. They have lost four of six to start July. In six of their last nine games they have scored three runs or less.

Hamels got the start for the Phils and went seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and a home run. He struck out eight.

Martin Prado led off the top of the first with a single. Omar Infante was next and he bunted for a single, putting men on first and second for Chipper Jones. Chipper walked to load the bases. Hamels got Troy Glaus to hit into a double-play with Prado scoring to put Atlanta up 1-0. Yunel Escobar flew to right for the third out.

Hamels started the second up 2-1. Matt Diaz led off with a single. Hamels struck David Ross out behind him and got Gregor Blanco to hit into a double-play to set the Braves down.

Prado walked with one out in the third. Hamels got Infante and Chipper behind him.

Diaz doubled with two outs in the fourth. Ross followed him and singled into left center. Diaz scored to tie the game at 2-2. Blanco flew to left for the third out.

Infante singled with two outs in the fifth. Hamels struck Chipper out behind him for the third out.

Escobar singled with one out in the sixth. Diaz followed him with a ground ball to short and Escobar was forced at second. Ross flew to right for the third out.

He struck out Blanco and the pitcher Jair Jurrjens to start the seventh. Prado was next and Hamels got ahead of him, but Prado lined a 1-2 offering out to left to put Atlanta up 3-2. Hamels struck Infante out to end the frame.

Contreras started the eighth with the game tied at 3-3. Chipper and Glaus singled back-to-back to start the inning, putting men on first and third with nobody out. Brandon Hicks ran for Glaus at first. Escobar chopped a ball to third. Castro fielded and threw home and the Phils were able to get Chipper for a critical first out. With men on first and second, Diaz popped out to Valdez for the second out. Lefty Brian McCann hit for Ross and Romero came in to pitch to him. Romero got McCann on a ground ball to Valdez to end the frame.

Big play on the ball hit by Escobar helps the Phils escape men on first and third and nobody out. Contreras wasn’t charged with a run in the game but got lucky. Over his last six appearances he has been charged with six runs on seven hits and two walks over four innings.

Lidge set the Braves down in order in the ninth, striking out Blanco and Hinske.

Herndon needed six pitches to throw a 1-2-3 tenth.

He was back to start the eleventh and gave up a leadoff single to Escobar. Diaz was next and fouled off a bunt attempt before ripping a double into right center that scored Escobar and put Atlanta up 4-3. Zagurski took over for Herndon and struck out the lefties McCann and Blanco for the first two outs of the inning before Hinske hit a 2-2 pitch out to right to make it 6-3. Zagurski struck Prado out for the third out.

Herndon has a 4.08 ERA for the season, which makes it easy to overlook his 1.60 ratio. Opponents are hitting .345 against him for the year. The Phils have a bunch of problems in the pen with injuries they can’t control. Trying to keep Herndon on the roster isn’t one of them.

Zagurski threw 19 pitches in the game. Everyone else was 12 or fewer. Nobody was pitching for the second day in a row thanks to the complete game by Halladay in the first game of the set.

The Phillies lineup against righty Jair Jurrjens went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Ibanez (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Dobbs (7) Valdez (8) Sardinha. Sardinha catches his fifth straight game in brutal weather. Ibanez continues to hit third with Utley on the DL. Dobbs at third against the righty. Valdez plays second.

The Phils were down 1-0 when they hit in the bottom of the first. Rollins led off with walk and stole second as Victorino struck out. Ibanez was next and hit a 1-2 pitch out down the line in right, putting the Phillies on top at 2-1. Howard and Werth went down behind him to end the inning.

The Phils went in order in the second and third.

The game was tied at 2-2 when they went in order in the fourth.

Dobbs started the fifth with a walk, but Valdez hit into a double-play behind him and Sardinha struck out.

They went in order in the sixth.

Ibanez started the seventh with a walk. Howard was next and hit a ball high off the wall in left that Diaz nearly caught but didn’t get. Diaz couldn’t find the ball right away and it allowed Howard to wind up on third with a triple. Peter Moylan took over for Jurrjens and struck out Werth for the first out. Lefty Jonny Venters came in to pitch to Dobbs and Francisco hit for Dobbs. Francisco flew to Blanco for the second out with Howard holding. Valdez grounded to third to end the inning with the game still tied.

Phils can’t get another run with a man on third and nobody out. Werth saw five pitches in the at-bat, taking three called strikes without swinging the bat.

The Phils went in order in the eighth. Gload hit for Romero and flew to left for the second out.

They went 1-2-3 in the ninth, too.

Castro walked with one out in the tenth and moved to second when Valdez followed and hit a ground ball fielded by the pitcher. Sardinha flew out to left to leave Castro stranded.

They were down 6-3 when they hit in the eleventh. Victorino singled off of Billy Wagner with two outs and took second without a throw, but Ibanez struck out to end the game.

Rollins was 0-for-4 with a walk. He’s 0-for-his-last-12.

Victorino 1-for-5 and struck out twice.

Ibanez 1-for-4 with a walk and a two-run homer.

Howard 1-for-4 with a triple.

Werth was 0-for-4 with a huge strikeout in the seventh.

Dobbs 0-for-1 with another walk. He’s hitting 313/353/563 in 16 July at-bats after a miserable first three months.

Valdez 0-for-4. He’s 1-for-his-last-15 and has a .269 on-base percentage for the year in a career-high 165 plate appearances. Utley getting hurt is almost completely out of the Phillies control — who they give 165 plate appearances isn’t.

Sardinha 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Jamie Moyer (9-7, 4.13) faces righty Kris Medlen (5-1, 3.01) tonight. Moyer has allowed more than two runs in one of his last seven starts. Medlen is 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA and an 0.95 ratio over his last four starts.

Happ was activated and sent to Triple-A. Madson could be back as soon as today.


Game on

There may not have been any real competition for the fifth starter’s job when spring training stated, but there is now. Jamie Moyer is going to pitch better than he has or Kendrick is going to pitch worse — both those things are likely, but if neither of them happens I think it’s Kendrick that’s in the rotation to start the season. There’s no question that Kendrick has been better than Moyer in the past few weeks, but I thought it was worth a minute to make sure that Moyer has been better than Kendrick over the last couple of years. He has. Here’s what both have done for the Phillies over the past three seasons:

  IP ERA Ratio R/9
Moyer 557.7 4.53 1.38 4.74
Kendrick 303 4.66 1.46 4.96

You also have to consider the contributions that Moyer has given the Phillies in big games. The most notable of those in recent history was game three of the 2008 World Series, but there have been others. Kendrick’s biggest spot came in his start of game two of the NLDS against the Rockies in 2007 and he allowed five runs over 3 2/3 innings.

Moyer has also pitched deeper into games in his starts than Kendrick has. Moyer has gone an average of about 5.92 innings per start of his 91 starts for the Phils in the last three years. Kendrick has gone an average of about 5.52 over his 52 starts.

It’s also not like Kendrick hasn’t gotten a chance. He has. He made 30 starts and 31 appearances in 2008 and was just about as awful as you can be if you’re not a big name closer who won the World Series the previous season, throwing 155 2/3 innings with a 5.49 ERA and a 1.61 ratio.

The Phillies beat the Pirates 5-1 yesterday. Roy Halladay provided still more fantastic starting pitching, allowing a run over five innings to raise his spring ERA to 0.90. David Herndon, Chad Durbin and Ehren Wassermann followed Halladay and combined to allow one single over four scoreless innings. Cody Ransom hit yet another home run. Howard, Werth and Ruiz all had two hits.

Jamie Moyer was hit hard in a B game yesterday, allowing five runs in three innings.

Polanco sprained his right knee in yesterday’s game. He says he might miss two or three days, which surely can’t help his efforts to get comfortable playing third.

Mike Zagurski threw two scoreless innings in a B game yesterday. I still would guess he’s an extreme long shot to start the team, even if Bastardo and Escalona continue to struggle.


And just think what would have happened if they tried bringing in Lidge to close out the second

The Phillies got a little worse at preventing runs last year compared to their 2008 campaign. In 2008, only two teams in the NL allowed fewer runs than the Phils. In 2009 the Phils dropped to sixth in the league.

If you had asked me the inning in which the Phillies saw the most drop off, I would have quickly guessed the ninth. That would have been wrong, though, and for me at least it was a good reminder that the struggles for the Phillies pitching staff last year extended beyond the back of the bullpen.

Here’s how the runs allowed broke down by inning for the Phillies in 2009:

  G Runs/game % of all
runs allowed
Runs per
batter faced
1st inning 162 0.55 12.6 0.129
2nd inning 162 0.45 10.3 0.103
3rd inning 162 0.41 9.3 0.098
4th inning 162 0.50 11.4 0.115
5th inning 162 0.58 13.3 0.134
6th inning 161 0.49 11.1 0.115
7th inning 161 0.40 9.0 0.092
8th inning 161 0.45 10.3 0.105
9th inning 136 0.57 10.9 0.133
Extra innings 16 0.81 1.8 0.098
         
Total 162 4.38 100 0.113

By the percentage of runs allowed and by the runs allowed per batter faced, the fifth inning was the worst for the Phils. The ninth was right behind the fifth in terms of runs allowed per plate appearance and the first right behind the fifth in terms of the percentage of the total runs that the team allowed.

Here’s what it looked like for 2008:

  G Runs/game % of all
runs allowed
Runs per
batter faced
1st inning 162 0.70 16.6 0.154
2nd inning 162 0.30 7.1 0.071
3rd inning 162 0.56 13.2 0.129
4th inning 162 0.57 13.7 0.133
5th inning 162 0.41 9.8 0.099
6th inning 162 0.47 11.2 0.111
7th inning 162 0.31 7.5 0.077
8th inning 162 0.48 11.5 0.109
9th inning 132 0.40 7.8 0.094
Extra innings 13 0.85 1.6 0.098
         
Total 162 4.20 100 0.109

Much more normal-looking here, with the first inning the leader by a lot in both the percentage of the runs allowed and the runs allowed per batter faced. The first is, after all, the inning in which the opposition can best control who will come to the plate. Pretty much they try to send someone good, with possible exception of the teams that don’t like clogging up the bases with a bunch of runners.

Here’s how it looks if you compare the ’09 results to the ’08 results:

  Runs/game % of all
runs allowed
Runs per
batter faced
1st inning 78.8% -4.1% 84.1%
2nd inning 152.1% +3.2% 145.2%
3rd inning 73.3% -3.9% 75.7%
4th inning 87.1% -2.3% 86.6%
5th inning 140.3% +3.4% 134.9%
6th inning 104.6% very small change 103.8%
7th inning 126.3% +1.5% 120.8%
8th inning 94.2% -1.2% 96.6%
9th inning 141.0% +3.1% 141.5%
Extra innings 96.0% 0.2% 100.3%
       
Total 104.3%   103.7%

So, for example, the Phillies allowed 89 runs in 162 games in the first inning in 2009, which is .55 runs per game. In 2008 they allowed 113 runs in 162 games or .70 runs per game. .55 is about 78.8% of .70 (actually .5494 is about 78.8% of .6975).

In 2008, about 16.6% of the runs the Phillies allowed were scored in the first inning. In 2009 it was about 12.6%, which is 4.1% lower than the 16.6% in 2009 (again, rounding issues make the numbers on the tables not match up exactly).

In 2009 they faced 688 batters in the first inning — 89 runs means they allowed about 0.129 runs per batter. In ’08 it was 113 runs allowed to 735 batters or .154 per batter. .129 over .154 is about 84.1%, meaning that the Phils allowed about 84.1% of the runs per plate appearance in the first inning in 2009 that they did in 2008.

Anyhow, pretty much any way you look at the numbers, the biggest decline wasn’t in the ninth inning. By percentage change in runs allowed per game and runs allowed per batter face, the second was the inning where the team declined the most. By the difference in percentage of the team’s runs allowed it was the fifth.

Carlos Ruiz and Domonic Brown are among those impressed with Roy Halladay.

Manuel says Victorino will hit sixth and seventh and that Mike Zagurski is still a little rough here.


All due respect to Jet, but apparently you do need money when you look like that, honey

The Phillies and Kris Benson agreed to a minor league deal. This article suggests that Benson could make over $5 million this season.

Benson was taken by Pittsburgh with the first pick of the 1996 draft and has started 195 games with the Pirates, Mets and Orioles, throwing to a career 4.34 ERA with a 1.38 ratio.

A healthy Benson would be a huge boost to the Phillies. Here, for example, is how his career numbers compare to Brett Myers’:


G

GS

IP

ERA

Ratio
Myers 192 143 923 4.34 1.35
Benson 195 195 1207.1 4.34 1.38

The difference, of course, is that Benson is almost six years older than Myers. The best year of his career will likely prove to be 2000 while the best year of Myers’ career is likely yet to come. Still, on a team with pitching woes as deep as the Phillies I have a hard time seeing the addition of Benson as anything but a gamble worth taking.

The article linked above suggests that he was recently throwing at about 60 to 70 percent, which means that his chances to win a job out of spring training are just about zero. You have to believe you’re going to see him before long for the Phils, though, given all the issues the team has after Myers and Hamels in the starting rotation.

Benson missed the 2001 season coming off of Tommy John surgery and all of 2007 with a torn rotator cuff. He last pitched on September 27, 2006 against the Yankees and had a miserable outing. He went just 2 2/3 innings and allowed eight earned runs, puffing his ERA from 4.49 to 4.82.

Benson made his debut with the Pirates in 1999 and for the first two years of his career was an extreme ground ball pitcher. When he returned from injury in 2002 he still got more of his outs on the ground than in the air, but the numbers weren’t nearly as dramatic as they had been in ’99 and ’00. Over the last three seasons he pitched he got about the same number of outs in the air as on the ground.

His strikeouts have generally trended downward over his career as well. In 2000 he struck out 184 batters in 217 2/3 innings, 7.61 per nine innings. The last year he pitched was 2006 — in that season he struck out 88 in 183 innings or 4.33 per nine innings, the lowest strikeout rate of his career.

In 2006 he also had a big problem with the long ball as his home run rate shot to the highest level of his career. In 183 innings with the Orioles in ’06 he allowed 33 home runs, which was the fourth most in the American League (it was also the only year of his career in the AL, which may help explain the increased home run rate).

And then there’s the lefties. Here’s what Benson has done in his career and 2006, the last year he pitched, against righties and against lefties:


PA

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
Career v R 2703 .248 .300 .379 .679
Career v L 2496 .288 .364 .469 .833
’06 v R 382 .270 .313 .430 .743
’06 v L 399 .303 .370 .540 .910

Those numbers against lefties are a little scary. But it shouldn’t be lost on anyone either that the numbers against righties, particularly the career numbers, are tremendous.

This is almost inarguably a good move for the Phils. We’re not going to know for a long time how healthy Benson is. But whenever we do, if the answer is that he can get back to close to where he was before his injury there’s no question he can help the team. From Benson’s perspective, he gets a team with a chance to go far this season as well as a team that’s going to have a ton of opportunity for anyone who can pitch.

The Phillies are looking into their options around a team chiropractor, something that Cole Hamels has been suggesting for a while. No word about adding some sort of fashion consultant to prevent the kind of wardrobe malfunction like the one that led to Hamels starting a playoff game on a hot day in long sleeves, but check back often. It may just be that everyone is going to have to dress themselves. Adding a chiropractor, or at least making sure that the players have easy access to one, seems like a no-brainer to me given the amount invested in player salaries and the consequences of injuries.

Marcus Hayes calls Eaton a head case in this chat. If Eaton’s problems were primarily caused by mental and not physical problems, that would be good news. In the same chat he calls the Helms acquisition a joke and says he thinks that Travis Blackley will make the team.

Scott Mathieson says that the discomfort in his pitching elbow is not a big deal. Same article says that Zagurski thinks he’s a long shot to make the team and won’t start doing mound work till March 1. More on Zagurski here.

This says that Gordon and Lidge both looked good throwing yesterday.


Nats and Fish helping to make for quite a feast in the East

The Phils handled the teams in their division in ’07, going 42-30 against the NL East:


Team

W

L
NY 12 6
ATL 9 9
WAS 12 6
FLA 9 9

Only the Rockies were better against the teams in their own division than the Phils. Colorado went 43-30, a .589 winning percentage compared to .583 for the Phils. The Cubs had the best mark in the NL Central, they went 45-34 (.569).

For the Phils it was the second straight year they fared well against NL East foes. In ’06 they went 41-31, not quite as good as the Mets who were 45-29 (.608) against the teams of the NL East. The Phillies were 38-37 against the NL East in 2005 and 39-37 in 2004. In ’06 the Mets’ .608 winning percentage against the teams in their division was the best in the NL.

The Phillies and Jayson Werth agreed to a one-year contract worth $1.7 million.

This mailbag from the Phillies web site suggests that the Phillies are torn about whether to use Scott Mathieson as a reliever or a starter. He has started in 84 of his 92 minor league appearances.

Interview with Mike Zagurski here.

This article suggests the Orioles may be closer to sending Erik Bedard to the Mariners.


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