Tag: Phillies pitching

Homers

The starting pitching has improved month-to-month for the Phillies this year and so has the pitching overall. So far in July it has been fantastic. The Giants are the team in the NL that has been the best at preventing runs this season — they have allowed 324 over 88 games or 3.68 runs per game. The Phils have allowed 3.65 runs per game this month.

Phillies’ pitchers have allowed a huge number of home runs this season, so you might think that the way they’ve consistently improved is by cutting down on the home runs. It isn’t, though. They still allow a ton of home runs — not as many as they allowed in April, but a lot. Here’s the rate the pitching overall has allowed runs, hits, walks and home runs per nine innings for each month this season so far:

Month R/9 H/9 BB/9 HR/9
April 5.63 10.06 3.72 2.01
May 4.76 8.99 3.37 1.25
June 4.64 9.95 3.74 1.23
July 3.65 7.81 1.87 1.27
         
Total 4.77 9.37 3.36 1.42

The runs allowed per nine innings has dropped every month since April. The pitching was just awful the first month of the season and the Phils allowed 40 home runs in 179 innings, which is more than two home runs per nine innings. The rate has dropped a lot since April, but it’s still a lot of home runs the Phils give up. The average NL team has thrown 785 innings for the season and allowed 86 home runs — that’s 0.98 per nine innings, which is a lot less than Phillies pitchers have allowed in any month this year.

It sure seems like we should be able to blame all of the home runs that the Phillies give up on Citizens Bank Park. And, sure enough, the Phillies pitching has allowed both runs and home runs at a worse rate at home this year than they have away:

  R/9 H/9 BB/9 HR/9
Home 4.94 9.48 3.50 1.53
Away 4.59 9.25 3.21 1.31
         
Total 4.77 9.37 3.36 1.42

The problem with blaming it on the yard, though, is that the Phillies are scoring more runs in their games away from home than in their games at Citizens Bank Park.

  Runs per
game
HR per
game
Home 5.11 1.38
Away 5.61 1.46
     
Total 5.35 1.42

So even if Citizens Bank Park is a great place to hit, the Phillies hitters have managed to find some other places that are greater. And while it might be a great place to hit home runs, the Phillies are hitting more on the road.

The AL beat the NL 4-3 in the All-Star game. Victorino had a single and scored a run. Utley 0-for-2. Ibanez 0-for-2. Howard had a big at-bat in the eighth with two on and the NL down a run with two outs, but Joe Nathan struck him out. Werth 0-for-1.

This suggests the Phillies have signed Pedro Martinez to a one-year deal that is worth $1 million with incentives that could be worth up to an additional $1.5 million.


Um, could we have another baseball please?

Allowing home runs has been a huge problem for the Phillies this season.

As a team the Phillies allowed 160 home runs in 2008 — that’s .99 per game. They’ve allowed 107 already in 2009, which is about 1.46 per game. They’re on pace to allow 237 in 2009, which is 77 more than they allowed last year.

The 107 home runs they have allowed overall is the most for the league by a lot (nothing in this post includes results from yesterday). The Brewers and the Astros are tied for second in the NL in home runs allowed and they have both allowed just 91. The Phillies have also allowed more home runs than any team in the DH-loving American League.

The Phillies aren’t going to allow 237 home runs this year. If they did, though, it would be the most home runs allowed by a team in either league since the Rockies allowed 239 in 2001.

To allow that many home runs it helps to be bad in a lot of different areas and not just really bad in one. Compared to the other teams in the NL, the Phillies allow lots of homers by their starters, their relievers, at home and away.

Here’s the number of home runs per inning the Phillies starting pitchers have allowed this season compared to the other teams in the NL:

Team IP HR HR per IP Rank
LAD 422.3 35 .083 2
STL 460 39 .085 3
SF 444 46 .104 6
CHI 434.7 58 .133 11
ATL 439 35 .080 1
ARI 449.7 58 .129 10
COL 442 43 .097 4
PIT 442 45 .102 5
HOU 408 58 .142 13
CIN 437 67 .153 14
NYM 428 48 .112 7
FLA 432.7 50 .116 8
MIL 417 69 .165 15
WAS 411.3 50 .122 9
SD 405 56 .138 12
PHI 411.3 80 .194 16

So the starters are allowing .194 home runs per inning this season. The team whose starting pitchers have the second-worst rate of allowing home runs this season are the Brewers, but even Milwaukee’s starters have allowed just .165 home runs per inning.

And here are the relievers:

Team IP HR HR per IP Rank
MIL 238.3 22 .092 8
ATL 230 14 .061 1
CHI 207.3 22 .106 12
CIN 229 17 .074 2
HOU 248.7 33 .133 16
LAD 257 24 .093 9
WAS 237 20 .084 5
NYM 226.7 19 .084 4
PHI 245.3 27 .110 13
PIT 209.3 22 .105 11
STL 215.3 27 .125 15
SD 252 26 .103 10
SF 206 16 .078 3
COL 210 25 .119 14
FLA 253 22 .087 6
ARI 239.7 22 .092 7

A little better for the Phils, but still very bad. The relievers for Colorado, St Louis and Houston are the only ones who have allowed home runs at a higher rate than the Phillies.

They’re awful at preventing home runs at home:

Team IP HR HR per IP Rank
MIL 334 41 .123 11
ATL 363 21 .058 1
CHI 309 38 .123 12
CIN 316 41 .130 14
HOU 372 47 .126 13
LAD 354 24 .068 2
WAS 364.7 35 .096 7
NYM 360 36 .100 9
PHI 322 59 .183 16
PIT 315 25 .079 4
STL 360 33 .092 6
SD 345 31 .090 5
SF 328 25 .076 3
COL 288 29 .101 10
FLA 375 36 .096 8
ARI 397 56 .141 15

Worst in the league. A little better on the road, but not much:

Team IP HR HR per IP Rank
MIL 327 50 .153 15
ATL 312 28 .090 2
CHI 338.3 42 .124 12
CIN 356 43 .121 10
HOU 292 44 .151 14
LAD 331.7 35 .106 6
WAS 291 35 .120 9
NYM 301.7 31 .103 4
PHI 339.7 48 .141 13
PIT 341.3 42 .123 11
STL 322 33 .102 3
SD 320 51 .159 16
SF 328 37 .113 7
COL 372 39 .105 5
FLA 317 36 .114 8
ARI 296.7 24 .081 1

Houston, Milwaukee and San Diego have all allowed home runs at a higher rate on the road than the Phils.

The Phillies are bad at preventing home runs compared to the rest of the league in all four categories, but worse in some than others. The table below compares the home runs per inning the Phillies have allowed for the season to the average home runs per inning for the other 15 NL teams:

  Avg HR per
IP for other 15 NL Teams
HR per IP
for PHI
PHI/AVG
SP .117 .194 1.66
RP .096 .110 1.15
Home .100 .183 1.83
Away .118 .141 1.20

So, for example, the starting pitchers for the 15 NL teams that aren’t the Phillies have allowed .117 home runs per inning on the season. The Phillies starters have allowed .194. .194 over .117 is 1.66, so the Phillies starters have allowed home runs at 1.66 times the rate of the average of the other 15 teams in the league combined.

So they’re allowing a lot of home runs in all four situations, but especially when their starters are pitching and at home.

Bastardo to the DL and Escalona up.

This says Ibanez is unlikely to come back from the DL on Friday. It also says that Mayberry has played really well for the Phillies. He’s hitting .216 and on-basing .256.


Phils glad to have Romero back, but may be sad he didn’t bring three guys who can get righties out with him

Cole Hamels was brilliant last night, but overall the Phillies pitched far better in 2008 than they have so far in 2009. Aside from watching the Phils play baseball, this can be demonstrated in a number of ways. In 2008 they allowed 680 runs over 162 games, about 4.2 runs per game. In 2009 the Phils had allowed 254 runs through their first 51 games, about 4.98 runs per game. Coming into last night’s game their team ERA of 4.88 was 15th-best of the 16 NL teams in ’09. In 2008 they posted a 3.88 ERA as a squad, which was fourth-best in the league.

So what’s the problem? Well, as you know, the starting pitching has been the problem. What hasn’t been the problem when you look at the pitching staff’s numbers overall is what they’ve done against left-handed hitters. The Phillies have actually been better against lefties in ’09 than they were in 2008 (nothing in this post includes the results from games played yesterday):

Left-handed batters vs PHI pitching

Year PA AVG OBP SLG
2008 2572 270 346 425
2009 849 249 335 399

In all three of the categories they are better in ’09 than they were in ’08. Given that lefties haven’t been the problem you can probably guess what has:

Right-handed batters vs PHI pitching

Year PA AVG OBP SLG
2008 3655 252 317 399
2009 849 281 345 507

The .852 OPS that right-handed hitters have hit against Phillies’ pitching is the worst mark for any team in either league. The .507 slugging percentage is 30th of 30, the .345 on-base percentage 24th and the .281 average 28th.

So they aren’t doing well against righties.

At least compared to last season, the problems against righties aren’t about strikeouts or walks. They are striking right-handed hitters out at about the same rate. The walk rate is up, but just a little bit. The hits are up and the extra-base hits are up even more. Here’s the percentage of plate appearances by right-handed batters that have ended with a hit, walk, strikeout, single, extra-base hit or home run in ’08 and ’09:


Right-handed batters vs PHI pitching
Year % H % BB % SO % 1B % XBH % HR
2008 22.7 7.8 17.6 14.9 7.9 2.5
2009 25.0 7.9 17.6 15.1 9.9 4.8

The Phillies are giving up more hits to right-handed hitters, but the bigger problem has been how many more hits have been going for extra-bases.

In 2008, the Phillies faced 3,655 right-handed batters and gave up 831 hits. 544 of the hits were singles and 287 went for extra-bases.

This season they’ve faced 1,153 right-handed batters and given up 288 hits. 174 for singles and 114 for extra-bases.

In ’08, 14.9% of plate appearances by righties ended in a single. If 14.9% of the ’09 plate appearances by righties had ended in singles, the Phillies would have allowed 172. That’s just two fewer than they actually have allowed. If they were allowing extra-base hits and home runs at ’08 levels, though, they would have given up 91 extra-base hits and 29 home runs. They’ve actually allowed 114 extra-base hits and 55 home runs.

Here’s what it looks like if you use the rates for ’08 and compare them with the results for ’09 for hits, extra-base hits and home runs:


Right-handed batters vs PHI
  H 1B XBH HR
’09 expected
at ’08 pace
262 172 91 29
’09 actual 288 174 114 55
actual/at ’08
pace
1.10 1.01 1.25 1.90

So on a per-plate appearance basis against righties this season, the Phillies have given up 110% as many hits as they were giving up, but just 101% as many singles as they did last year. The other two numbers are much bigger — 125% of the extra-base hits and 190% of the home runs.

Brett Myers had surgery on his hip and will likely miss the rest of the season.

Shane Victorino’s hip has him day-to-day, which may mean Bruntlett will start in right again tonight with the Dodgers starting another lefty.

Finally, if you haven’t noticed, the Phillies starting pitching has been great of late. The starters have made five straight quality starts. In those five games the starters have gone 35 innings with a 1.29 ERA and an 0.74 ratio. Only once in the last five games has the starting pitcher allowed more than one run (Blanton allowed three runs to the Padres over seven innings).


Early but not often

The Phillies didn’t allow a lot of home runs last year — only five NL teams gave up fewer than the 160 they surrendered. They did give up a lot of home runs on the first pitch, though, only three NL teams gave up more. The percentage of the home runs that they did allow that came on the first pitch of plate appearances was also high compared to the rest of the league.

For the 16 NL teams, the chart below shows how many batters they faced last year, how many homers they allowed and how many of the those plate appearances and home runs took just one pitch:

Team Total PA Total HR 1-pitch PA % 1st-pitch
HR
%
CHI 6194 160 706 11.4 39 24.4
PHI 6229 160 778 12.5 35 21.9
SFG 6341 147 675 10.6 31 21.1
SDP 6286 165 740 11.8 34 20.6
HOU 6125 197 770 12.6 39 19.8
STL 6264 163 743 11.9 32 19.6
NYM 6338 163 721 11.4 32 19.6
WSN 6310 190 709 11.2 34 17.9
ARI 6119 147 749 12.2 26 17.7
LAD 6127 123 698 11.4 21 17.1
COL 6338 148 754 11.9 23 15.5
PIT 6528 176 801 12.3 27 15.3
MIL 6209 175 749 12.1 26 14.9
CIN 6352 201 661 10.4 28 13.9
FLA 6271 161 703 11.2 20 12.4
ATL 6244 156 685 11.0 17 10.9

The Phillies had the second-highest percentage of the home runs they allowed last year come on the first pitch, behind only the Cubs.

With the exception of the Braves, who had 11.0% of their plate appearances end in one pitch in 2008 but gave up just 10.9% of their homers on the first pitch, every NL gave up a higher percentage of their homers for the year on the first pitch than percentage of plate appearances that ended on the first pitch.

Of the 16 teams, only the Cubs and the Giants had a bigger difference between the percentage of home runs they allowed on the first pitch and the percentage of their plate appearances that ended on the first pitch than the Phillies.

By sheer numbers of home runs given up on the first pitch, the Cubs and Astros were the two teams that allowed more than the Phillies. They each surrendered 39 compared to 35 for the Phillies.

There’s a wide range between how frequently the teams allowed home runs on the year. The Braves allowed a home run on the first pitch least frequently — they faced 6,244 hitters and allowed 17 first pitch home runs. That’s one per 367.3 plate appearances. The Astros allowed them at the highest rate — 39 first pitch home runs surrendered to 6,125 batters or one per 157.1 batters. The Phillies rate of one per 178 plate appearances was third worst in the league behind Houston and Chicago (158.8).

I still don’t think any of this answers the question of whether or not this is a problem. The best pitch in baseball is strike one, as they say, and throwing strike one means throwing the ball over the plate one the first pitch. It’s easy to prevent first pitch home runs if you want — just never throw the ball near the plate. I think it could be the case that the benefit gained by consistently throwing strike one is more significant that negative consequences of giving up more first pitch home runs. Later this week a post will look at how often the Phils got ahead in the count on the first pitch instead of behind compared to the rest of the league.

The Phillies have played three games since the last post. They lost two and played the Cardinals to a tie on Friday, putting their spring record at 8-12.

Not a big couple of days for the bats. The Phils scored three runs in the three games.

Today the Red Sox beat them 3-0.

Myers got the start and allowed two runs on five hits and five walks over five innings. Mike Lowell hit a two-run homer off of him in the first to account for both runs he allowed. Durbin kept his spring ERA at 0.00 with a scoreless seventh.

Mayberry was 1-for-4 and left five men on base. He’s hitting .279 in spring training. Cairo was 0-for-3 to drop his average to .268. Ozuna is hitting .364 after a 1-for-3 day. Paulino down to .174 after an 0-for-1. Donald drew a walk but didn’t have an official at-bat in the game. He’s hitting .314.

On Saturday, Kendrick finally had a good outing but the Phils lost to the Twins 2-1.

Kendrick went five innings, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk. Just one of the hits went for extra-bases, a double by Michael Cuddyer. Condrey followed with two scoreless innings to drop his spring ERA to 1.23.

Chan Ho Park was expected to start the game, but did not due to the problems with his strained left hamstring. This says he will start Tuesday against Toronto.

Bruntlett hit a home run with two outs in the ninth for the Phillies’ only run. Cairo was 0-for-3 with a walk. Mayberry 2-for-4 with a double and a stolen base.

Friday the Phillies tied the Cardinals 2-2 in ten innings.

Carrasco got the start and went 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits and two walks. Both runs came on a two-run homer by Rick Ankiel in the third. Koplove threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing a single and a walk, keeping his ERA at 0.00. Durbin allowed two walks over 1 1/3 scoreless frames.

Paulino was 0-for-2 and struck out twice. Giles, Mayberry and Donald were all 0-for-1.

The Phillies play the Yankees tomorrow.

Jimmy Rollins is in the lineup as the DH tonight as the Phils play Japan in the World Baseball Classic. The winner of the game will play Korea in the finals. Korea beat Venezuela 10-2 to advance to the finals.

Philliesflow now has a Twitter page.


First in war, first in peace, and just about the last group of people on the planet to think Cristian Guzman should play every day

Chris Needham, who writes about the Nationals at the excellent blog Capitol Punishment, took the time to answer some questions as we head towards the start of the 2008 season.

Nationals Park is finally here. How do you expect it will play?

The dimensions are a lot smaller than RFK, but that’s not really telling us much, since RFK was so huge. On the surface, it looks like it’s going to be neutral, perhaps a slight pitcher’s park. Even if it is a slight pitcher’s park, that’s a pretty big offensive bump for the team. The wild card in all of it is going to be the wind. The stadium is just off the water and it has open concourses. If the wind passes through the stadium and jets out the outfield through the buildings beyond the walls, things could be dramatically different.

The Nats stated plan relies heavily around improving the minor league system and by all accounts they have been successful in doing so. If you look at the roster and count the young, excellent players, though, it’s not clear how long that list is beyond Milledge and Zimmerman. Who are the other young players in the organization we should be excited about seeing in 2008? How and when does the plan that revolves around building up the minor leagues transition into success at the major league level?

On the offensive side of the ball, there aren’t a ton of ready MLB contributors. We’d expect catcher Jesus Flores to get more playing time, especially if LoDuca’s and Estrada’s injuries linger. We can’t forget (much as we want to) Elijah Dukes either. For his many, many, many, many, many, many problems off the field, the guy’s an all-world talent. Can he harness his potential?

Pitching’s going to be where the kids have a chance, especially with an injury prone 1/2 combo of Shawn Hill and John Patterson. The Nats have lots of competent arms, none of whom are likely to excel, but might someday be decent #3s. You’ll remember John Lannan quite well, I’m sure! Other younger guys who are likely to get a chance: Tyler Clippard (who came over from the Yankees in the offseason), Colin Balester (the org’s former top pitching prospect), Garret Mock and last year’s first-round pick, Ross Detwiler, a tall, lanky lefty.

As far as their time line for success, it’s probably going to be another two years or so before some of those picks from the last two excellent drafts emerge. They’ve got some interesting bats in the low minors, but they’re a long way from setting foot in the NL.

What was your opinion about Manny Acta’s first year at the helm of the Nats? What do you see as his strengths and weaknesses as a manager?

There’s a lot to love. It certainly seems like he has a mastery of both sides of the job: handling the clubhouse, and in-game strategy.

He’s relentlessly positive, which was a must given how terribly (9-25) this team started out last year. He never let the team give up and assured them that they were better than they were, and he got hard work out of all 25 players on the roster. He also loves his stathead strategy, rarely bunting, and only stealing when it makes sense, and when there’s a high chance of success.

What remains for the Nationals to decide before the season starts?

There are some public battles for the starting rotation, but option and health status is going to settle many of those arguments. The two big decisions confronting the team are Nick Johnson or Dmitri Young at first. If the team’s serious about winning, DY rides the pine, but there have been plenty of grumbles about trades. I’m a bit skeptical, but we’ll see. The other big battle is on the infield, where Felipe Lopez is trying to rebound from a David-Bell-like season at the plate. The team has talked about Ronnie Belliard being the starter at 2B, but I think that’s mostly been a ploy to light a fire under FLop’s butt.

How do you see the NL East shaping up this season?

It looks like it’s going to be a pretty exciting race! I liked Philly last season, and I’m not sure I’d pick against them this year. Sure, the Mets got Santana, but Brett Myers moving to the rotation seems like it’s a pretty solid (and underrated) move as well. The Braves seem like an interesting pick, but they’re relying on a lot of old and injury prone pitchers. Guess I’d go 1) Phillies 2) Mets 3) Braves 4) Nats 5) Marlins

Thanks again to Chris. Remember to follow the Nats at Capitol Punishment.

The Phillies have played three games since Friday’s post, which have pretty much been characterized by pitchers key to the team’s success this year getting hit hard. Eaton, Chad Durbin, Gordon and Hamels all had weak outings. You have to believe the Hamels is going to be just fine. For the other guys, well, at least it’s early.

On the plus side, among the players with close to no shot to make the team, Carlos Carrasco was fantastic yesterday. Greg Golson has made with contributions with his bat, his glove and his speed. NRI Casey Smith has just been on fire.

Yesterday, the Phils and Yankees played to a 7-7 tie in a game called after nine innings. The Phils are 2-2 in spring training with one tie.

Hamels got the start and gave up four runs on three hits, including two home runs, over two innings. Castro allowed two runs in two innings, but Carrasco followed him and struck out three in three scoreless frames. Holdzkom allowed a run that was unearned due to his own error. Ron Chiavacci struck out two in a scoreless ninth.

After hitting a home run the day before, Golson had a single, stole a base and made a terrific defensive play in center field. Burrell hit a solo home run and drew a walk. Taguchi and Coste both went 2-for-3 with two singles. Rollins went 0-for-3 to drop is early average to .100. Coming off a big day on Friday, Smith had an RBI-single.

On Saturday the Yankees beat the Phils 9-3. Eaton got the start and went two innings and gave up three runs on five hits. All of the runs came on a three-run shot by Shelley Duncan. Gordon couldn’t get through the ninth — he got two outs but allowed a two-run homer to Wilson Betemit. Chad Durbin also pitched and allowed two runs over two frames.

Phils’ bats were mostly quiet. Golson had a solo home run. Ruiz was 2-for-2 with a double.

On Friday they beat the Pirates 5-4. JD Durbin allowed two runs in two innings. Shane Youman walked four and allowed two runs in his inning. Joe Bisenius, Gary Knotts and JA Happ both tossed two scoreless frames.

Casey Smith was 3-for-4 with two doubles and a solo home run in the top of the ninth that put the Phils ahead to stay.

The Phillies play the Pirates this afternoon. Savery, Outman, Romero and Bisenius are all expected to pitch.

Brad Lidge says the rehab of his knee is going well. The same article says that John Ennis cleared waivers and re-signed with the Phillies.

Cole Hamels doesn’t like his new contract.

Bobby Abreu was pleased to see the Phillies make the playoffs.


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