Tag: Phillies bullpen

Dog days of summer bring down days for relievers

The Phillies bullpen was outstanding early in the year, but they’ve been a little less outstanding lately. The numbers for the season overall are still good, the 3.49 ERA the pen has thrown to this year is sixth-best in the NL, but the pen has fallen off overall.

Here’s what the relievers for the Phils did in April and May and what they have done since:

IP/G ERA Ratio K/9
April and May 2.75 2.80 1.28 6.9
June, July & August 2.35 4.09 1.27 8.4
Total 2.54 3.49 1.27 7.7

Since the end of May, the pen has been throwing fewer innings per game and striking out more batters when they do pitch, but with worse results overall. In their appearances in April and May, Phillie relievers allowed about 0.34 runs per inning pitched. In their appearances since the end of May they have allowed about 0.47 runs per inning pitched.

The bullpen is still throwing a tiny number of innings compared to the rest of the league. No NL team has thrown fewer frames than the 322 2/3 innings the Phils have tossed this year — the Dodgers are 15th in the NL in relief innings pitched and LA relievers have thrown 18 more innings than the relievers for the Phillies have.

In this post from January, I pointed out that in 2010 the Phillies relievers threw not just the fewest number of innings in the NL, but the fewest number of innings that any NL team had thrown for five years. At this point in the 2011 season, the Phillies have played 128 games and thrown 322 2/3 innings, which puts them on a pace to throw about 408 1/3 innings for the year. That would be fewer than the 421 innings they threw during the 2010 season, but still more than the 397 2/3 innings that the St Louis bullpen tossed during the 2005 season.

The strong start to the year makes the numbers for the Phillies pen look pretty good overall compared to the rest of the league. But the relievers have thrown to a 4.09 ERA since the end of May and that’s a whole lot less exciting than the 2.80 ERA for the first two months of the year. Only two NL teams, the Mets and the Astros, have seen their relievers throw to an ERA worse than 4.09 for this season overall.

Oswalt (6-7, 3.51) faces righty Clay Hensley (1-5, 5.47) tonight as the Phils start a series with the Marlins. Right-handed hitters have hammered the righty Hensley this year, hitting .337 against him. Hensley was a reliever in the first half of the season and threw to a 3.60 ERA over 15 appearances. Since the All-Star break he has appeared only as a starter, starting seven games and throwing to a 6.29 ERA. His first three starts after the break were good — he threw to a 2.65 ERA and opponents hit .165 against him. Over his last four starts he has allowed 19 runs in 17 1/3 innings. Oswalt was fantastic his last time out, throwing eight shutout innings against the Nats and striking out nine. He has been hit hard by righties this year, they have posted a 305/346/447 line against him, which is way better than their 247/295/384 line against him over his career.

Sunday’s game has been moved and will be played as part of a double-header on Saturday.

The pitch for relief from pitching in relief

The Phillies open the second half of the season with a big series against the second-place Marlins. The Phils came in to the set knowing they could come out tied atop the division with the Fish or as many as eight games ahead of them. So far, so good. The Phils rolled in game one as Jamie Moyer threw a one-hit shutout with help from Madson and Romero.

The Phils are on a roll and look like they have a chance to put serious distance between themselves and the rest of the NL East. That would be good for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that it would allow them to rest key members of the bullpen down the stretch.

You’ll remember that the Phillies pen was fantastic last year. Durbin and Madson both finished in the top five in the league in innings pitched as a reliever, though. Durbin led the league with 87 2/3 innings pitched in relief and Madson was fifth with 82 2/3 innings pitched in relief. Down the stretch and through the post-season one of them was fantastic and the other faded badly. Durbin ended July last season with a 1.67 ERA and a 1.15 ratio. In his 27 regular season appearances to end the season he threw to a 5.40 ERA and a 1.70 ratio. In seven appearances in the post-season he was charged with just one earned run, but allowed seven hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings (2.70 ERA with a 3.00 ratio). Madson, on the other hand, ended July with a 3.48 ERA and a 1.31 ERA and was fantastic the rest of the way. In his last 28 regular season appearances he threw to a 2.22 ERA and a 1.09 ratio. He followed that up with an awesome run through the playoffs in which he pitched 12 2/3 innings with a 2.13 ERA and an 0.87 ratio.

Durbin and Madson both find themselves in the top ten in the NL in innings pitched in relief again in 2009. Madson has again been fantastic early in the season this year while Durbin has struggled a bit. I think there’s an added element this season as well — for Durbin, his struggles have meant that in addition to all of the innings he’s thrown he’s also had to throw more pitches to get through innings. In 2008 Durbin used 1,417 pitches to get through 87 2/3 innings. So far this year he’s needed 836 pitches to get through 44 1/3 innings. At his ’08 rate of pitches per inning he would have needed just 717 pitches to get through 44 1/3 frames. In 2009, Durbin is throwing about 1.17 times as many pitches per inning as he did last year.

For the 16 pitches who have thrown at least ten innings for the Phillies this season, here are the rates for pitches per batter, batters per inning and pitches per inning for each of them this year (does not include last night’s game):

Pitchers per batter

Batters per inning

Pitches per inning
T Walker
R Lopez
R Madson
B Myers
C Condrey
C Hamels
J Happ
J Moyer
J Blanton
J Taschner
C Park
C Durbin
B Lidge
A Bastardo
J Romero
S Eyre
T Walker
R Lopez
J Happ
C Condrey
R Madson
C Hamels
B Myers
J Blanton
J Romero
S Eyre
J Moyer
C Park
A Bastardo
C Durbin
B Lidge
J Taschner
T Walker
R Lopez
R Madson
J Happ
C Condrey
B Myers
C Hamels
J Blanton
J Moyer
C Park
C Durbin
J Romero
A Bastardo
S Eyre
J Taschner
B Lidge

A lot of pitches per inning isn’t ideal, but the combination of a guy who throws a lot of innings plus needs a lot of pitches to get through an inning is worse. So I don’t think we should be worried about Romero and Eyre needing a lot of pitches to go through a frame since they don’t throw a huge number of innings. I do think we should be worried about Durbin and Lidge.

Durbin and Madson threw about the same number of innings in the first half of the season. Madson threw 44 2/3 and Durbin threw 43 1/3. Madson threw a lot less pitches, though. He threw just 694 while Durbin threw 836, which is 142 more. Madson has thrown 15.54 pitches per inning this season — if he threw at that rate he could have thrown about 54 innings with the 836 pitches Durbin has thrown compared to the 43 1/3 Durbin has.

In addition to the increasing number of pitches that Durbin has to throw to get through an inning, I think for both he and Madson you have to worry about the number of innings they are both pitching. You don’t really want to see both of those guys in the top five for innings pitched in relief for the league every season.

Lidge is the other guy I think you have to worry about in terms of the number of pitches he’s throwing. He’s throwing about 20.2 pitches per inning this year after throwing 17.18 per inning last season. His pitches per innings is at the highest rate for his career with the exception of 2002 when he threw under ten innings. 2006 with the Astros was the other year where he really struggled — in ’06 he needed just 18.01 pitches per inning.

Whether it’s a physical problem or not, Lidge is either going to work through his struggles this year or he isn’t. The worry, though, is that even if he does, by the time he does it he will have thrown so many pitches that he’s worn out.

Clay Condrey could be activated for tonight’s game.

Kyle Kendrick is engaged to marry a former Survivor contestant, which means that five percent of the Phillies 40-man roster is now engaged to or married to someone who has been on the show. Don’t know for sure, but I would guess that leads the league.

With his home run last night, Ryan Howard became the player to hit 200 home runs in the fewest number of games in Major League history.

Philliesflow has a Twitter page.

Update: The Phillies activated Condrey and designated Tyler Walker for assignment.

The ninth fate

Phillies pitching is getting hit hard in the ninth inning this year. Here’s what opponents have hit against the Phils in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings this season and last season:

  2009 2008































So, by OPS that opposing hitters have put up against them, the Phillies are about the same in the seventh, better in the eighth and much worse in the ninth this year than they were in ’08.

Home runs have really been the problem for the Phillies in the ninth inning in 2009. In 2008 they allowed seven ninth inning home runs all season long. Lidge himself has allowed eight in the ninth inning already in 2009. The team has allowed 15 and is on pace to allow 28 ninth inning home runs. That’s four times as many homers in the ninth.

Lidge has obviously been worse in the ninth in 2009 than he was in 2008. But the pitchers that aren’t Lidge who have pitched in the ninth for the Phils this season have, by OPS that opposing hitters have posted against them, been better:

Total 323 266 342 476 817
Lidge 141 301 379 569 948
Not Lidge 182 239 313 405 718
Pace 608 266 342 476 817
Total 565 243 323 339 663
Lidge 276 183 281 254 535
Not Lidge 289 298 364 419 782

Lidge is on pace to thrown about 60 1/3 innings this season after throwing 69 1/3 in 2008. The percentage of the batters that the Phillies face in the ninth inning that are faced by Lidge is also down. In 2008, about 48.8% of the hitters the Phillies faced in the ninth were faced by Lidge. This year it has been about 43.7%. Finally, since so many hitters have reached base against him this year he has had to face more batters per inning pitched. In 2008 he faced 292 batters over 69 1/3 innings, which is about 4.21 per inning. So far in 2009 he’s faced 152 in 32 innings, which is about 4.75 per inning.

The Phillies signed Pedro Martinez to a one-year deal and put him on the DL. This says that Pedro could be ready to pitch for the Phillies in the series against the Giants that starts on July 30.

Pen out of tune in June

Just about everyone watching the Phillies these days has the same reaction: Man, the starting pitchers sure are throwing well. Okay, maybe not so much. Maybe that hasn’t really been anyone’s reaction. Maybe everyone’s been too stunned watching Marco Scutaro run around the bases to notice much of anything. Still, the starting pitching had been much better in June than it was in the two previous months even before Moyer pitched well last night (nothing in this post includes numbers from last night’s game):

Month IP ER H BB ERA Ratio
April 107.7 76 144 37 6.35 1.68
May 158.0 97 169 51 5.53 1.39
June 115.3 51 125 32 3.98 1.36
Total 381.0 224 438 120 5.29 1.46

Granted, there was a lot of room for improvement given that the starters put up a 6.35 ERA in April. But improve they have. The 3.96 ERA in the first 19 June starts is downright impressive — should be more than good enough given the offense. The walk rate for the starters has gone down as the season has progressed as well. They walked 3.1 hitters per nine innings in April, 2.9 in May and 2.5 so far this month.

Not counting last night, the Phillies have gotten 11 quality starts in 19 games in June (57.9%), including six in a row to start the month. They got 20 quality starts in 48 games before the start of June (41.7%).

Less impressive is what the bullpen has done this month:

Month IP ER H BB ERA Ratio
April 71.3 36 56 37 4.54 1.30
May 93.3 31 82 43 2.99 1.34
June 65.0 34 74 40 4.71 1.75
Total 229.7 101 212 120 3.96 1.45

Phillies relievers have a ridiculous 1.75 ratio for the month as the rates at which they allow both hits and walks have skyrocketed. They’ve allowed 10.2 hits per nine innings and 5.5 walks per nine innings. Both those numbers are real bad. To help put “real bad” into context, the Pirates had the worst bullpen in the NL by ERA in 2008. In 567 2/3 innings they allowed 277 walks and 573 hits. That’s a rate of 9.1 hits per nine innings and 4.4 walks per nine. Not including last night’s games, the Nats have the worst pen in the NL by ERA — in ’09 Washington has allowed 5.0 walks per nine innings and 9.7 hits per nine.

This says that Ibanez is hopeful he can be activated from the DL on July 3.

Brad Lidge guesses the Phillies will activate him tomorrow.

Altogether better

Last week I wrote that the Phillies bullpen was very good at preventing extra-base hits and especially home runs in 2008. It would be nice to see the Phils continue that success in 2009 and hopefully they will. It’s important to be aware, though, that many of the pitchers in last year’s pen allowed extra-base hits at a rate far below their career levels prior to 2008. Here’s a look at five guys who faced at least 200 hitters in relief for the Phils in 2008 who will be part of the ’09 picture as well, comparing the rate at which they allowed extra-base hits last year compared to what they had done the rest of their careers:


Condrey allowed extra-base hits more regularly in 2008 than he had over the rest of his career, giving up one every 11.7 plate appearances in ’08 compared to one every 12.7 plate appearances for the rest of his career. The other four guys in the group were better at preventing extra-base hits, and all of them were better at it by a larger margin than Condrey was worse. The most improvement compared to his career numbers coming into ’08 was shown by Durbin — Durbin had allowed an extra-base hit every 11.2 plate appearances coming into the season and allowed one every 21.5 plate appearances in ’08. Lidge was second, he had allowed an extra-base hit every 15.2 plate appearances coming into ’08 and allowed one every 22.5 during ’08.

So Lidge was better at preventing extra-base hits in ’08, but the improvement relative to his overall rate of preventing overall hits in 2008 was not as dramatic as it was for Durbin.

Here are how many plate appearances there were between home runs on average for the five pitchers in 2008 compared to the rest of their careers:


Lidge faced 292 hitters in ’08 and just two of them homered. The first was memorable. On July 25, Lidge started the ninth against the Braves down 1-0. Atlanta scored seven times in an inning punctuated by a grand slam by Brian McCann off of Lidge. Lidge was charged five runs in the game without getting an out. It was one of two games in the season in which he allowed more than one run in a game — he allowed as many runs in that game as he had in his first 35 appearances on the year. The other home run came less than ten days later. On August 3, Lidge started the ninth up 5-3 and allowed a solo homer to Troy Glaus. Lidge pitched out of a bases loaded jam and the Phils held on to win 5-4.

Anyway, back to the point and the point is that Lidge allowed home runs at a much better rate in 2008 than he had over his career.

Durbin was also very good compared to the other years of his career, but not quite as good as Lidge. Also notable is how frequently Durbin had given up homers coming into 2008.

Romero actually allowed home runs at a tiny bit higher rate compared to his career coming into 2008. Previous to 2008 he had allowed a home run once every 51.5 plate appearances. In 2008 he gave up five home runs to the 255 hitters he faced — that’s one every 51 plate appearances.

Madson and Condrey were better at preventing home runs than they had been in previous years, but not by as wide a margin as Lidge or Durbin.

The Phillies played three games since the last post, during which Feliz and Utley each saw their first spring action. The Phils won two of three and are 6-9 in spring training.

Utley played today as the Phils beat St Louis 2-1. Park made the start and was outstanding again. He allowed three singles in 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out six and lowered his spring ERA to 1.54. In 11 2/3 innings this spring he has thrown to an 0.86 ratio, allowing ten hits without walking a batter.

Jason Ellison doubled in Miguel Cairo in the ninth to get the Phils the win. Utley was 0-for-2. Werth 2-for-3 with a double and a home run. Cairo 2-for-2 to raise his average to .370. Giles 0-for-1 to drop his to .167. Mayberry 0-for-1. Donald 0-for-3.

Yesterday the Phils beat Houston 5-2.

Carrasco got the start and allowed a run on four hits and two walks over three innings. He struck out four. Borkowski threw a scoreless fourth, walking two. Andrew Carpenter had a nice outing in what’s been a miserable spring for him. He struck out four while allowing a run over four innings. Koplove pitched a scoreless ninth to earn a save, striking out two and allowing a single.

Werth was 1-for-2 with a walk, a homer and two RBI. Ozuna was at DH and went 3-for-4 with three singles and a stolen base. Donald was 1-for-4 with a single and two stolen bases. His career high in stolen bases in the minor leagues is 12 and he’s been safe in 28 of 38 minor league attempts (74%). Giles was 0-for-4 and left five men on base. Mayberry 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.

On Friday, the Pirates beat the Phillies 6-5.

Blanton got the start and allowed two runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings. The Phils took a 5-3 lead into the ninth inning, but Blaine Neal allowed a three-run homer to Jeff Salazar.

Howard hit a two-run homer for the Phils. Mayberry was 1-for-3 with a double and struck out twice. Donald 2-for-5 with a triple. Giles 0-for-2. Cairo 1-for-3 with a single and an RBI. Feliz played third and went 0-for-2.

On Saturday, Puerto Rico beat Team USA 11-1. Victorino was 0-for-3. Rollins played but didn’t get an at-bat. Romero did not pitch for Puerto Rico. Team USA plays The Netherlands tonight and the team that loses is eliminated from the tournament. Puerto Rico plays Venezuela tomorrow night, but the loser is not eliminated. Rodrigo Lopez and Team Mexico play Korea tonight.

The Phillies play the Yankees tomorrow afternoon. Kyle Kendrick is expected to pitch and needs to pitch well off of two miserable appearances.

Utley appears to be on schedule to play opening day.

Update 3/16/09: Team USA beat The Netherlands 9-3. Rollins had a big day, going 2-for-4 with a triple, a home run and four RBI. Victorino was 0-for-1. Korea beat Mexico 8-2. Lopez did not pitch.

More update 3/16/09: Cole Hamels has a sore elbow and will fly back to Philadelphia tonight to have the elbow examined by the team physician. That can’t be that good.

The pen was mightier than runs scored

I think there’s a good chance that everybody who cares agrees already, but I did want to take one more opportunity to drive home the notion that it was the bullpens that created the most important separation between the Phils and the Mets in 2008:

Here’s the runs scored and allowed by both teams:

Team RS RA Run
NYM 799 715 84
PHI 799 680 119

The Phillies run differential was better by 35 runs.

The team’s scored the same number of runs in 2008. That’s a problem in itself for the Phils, coming off a 2007 season where they scored 88 more times than the Mets. But offense wasn’t the difference between the ’08 Mets and the ’08 Phils.

New York’s starting pitching was better than the Phillies:

Team IP RA RA/Inning
NYM 971 458 4.25
PHI 966.2 489 4.55
Difference   -31  

The starting pitchers for the Mets and Phillies didn’t throw exactly the same number of innings, but it was close. In about five fewer innings, Phillies starters allowed 31 more runs than Mets starters. Given that we know the run differential between the teams for the year is 35 runs, that means that Phillies relievers allowed 66 fewer runs than Mets relievers. And they did:

Team IP RA RA/Inning
NYM 493.3 257 4.69
PHI 483 191 3.56
Difference   66  

Again, the offense was dead even. Mets starters were better. But even though the relievers for each team threw only about half as many innings as the starters, the difference in the runs allowed by the Phillies and the Mets bullpens was enormous — in about half the innings the Phillies gained an advantage more than twice as large as what the Mets gained with their better starters.

Chase Utley takes weak grounders, but isn’t swinging the bat yet. Same article says Jason Donald is working out at second.

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