Tag: Phillies

Only the names, and the fact that the Dodgers are much, much better now, have changed

If it seems like you’ve seen the NLCS between the Phils and Dodgers before it’s because you have. A lot has changed over the past year, though, and the most important among them is that the Dodgers have gotten a lot better. After going 84-78 in 2008, the Dodgers posted the best record in the NL in 2009 at 95-67.

The wins aren’t the only thing that improved for LA this year. Here’s a look at the runs scored by the Dodgers and Phils for this year and 2008:


Team

Runs Scored

NL Rank

’09 LA

780
4

’09 PHI

820
1
     

’08 LA

700

13

’08 PHI

799
3

The Phillies hit in both years compared to the other teams in the National League. The Dodgers were third in runs scored this year, but thirteenth in 2008.

LA was fantastic at preventing runs in both ’08 and ’09. The Phillies allowed 29 more runs in ’09 than they did in ’08 and their rank in the NL dropped from third to sixth:


Team

Runs Allowed

NL Rank

’09 LA

611

T-1

’09 PHI

709
6
     

’08 LA

648
1

’08 PHI

680
3

In 2008 the Phillies scored 799 runs and allowed 680. So they scored 119 more runs than they allowed. In ’09 they scored 820 and allowed 709, which is the difference of a pretty similar 111.

The Dodgers, on the other hand, scored 700 and allowed 648 in 2008, for a difference of 52 runs. This year they scored 780 and allowed 611, which is the difference of a pretty dissimilar 169.

I don’t think there’s much of an argument to be made that the Phillies were better than the Dodgers in 2009. They weren’t. The Dodgers were better. What I’m not sure about is how much it matters. A big part of why the Dodgers were better for the year is that they went 35-17 in April and May. That’s pretty awesome, but it’s also a long time ago. The Phillies are World Champs and if you watched game four of the NLDS it’s a little hard to deny that their magic is alive and well.

At the same time, the Dodgers won more games than the Phillies this year. Their offense was a little worse than the Phillies, but still among the best in the league, while their pitching was much better. They come off an impressive sweep of the Cardinals. They went 4-3 against the Phillies this year without a single plate appearance from Manny Ramirez.

I do think the Phillies will win the series, but it is going to be a tight one.

Here’s a look back at the series from last year:

Hamels started game one last year against Derek Lowe. The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead into the sixth, but Victorino led off the bottom of the sixth and hit a ground ball to Furcal and Furcal threw it away. Utley followed with a home run to tie the game at 2-2 and Burrell hit a solo shot two batters later, putting the Phils on top to stay at 3-2.

Brett Myers and Chad Billingsley faced off in game two. Myers threw behind Manny in the first inning and a Loney double in the second helped put LA up 1-0. A Myers single helped the Phillies score four times in the bottom of the inning to go ahead 4-1. Loney had another big hit off of Myers in the third, an RBI-single that made it 4-2. The Phils extended their lead to 8-2 with four more runs in the bottom of the third, which featured Chan Ho Park striking out Rollins for the second out of the inning. That should have been it for the game, but LA got back into it in the top of the fourth. With two outs and nobody on, Furcal struck out for what should have been the third out of the inning. Ruiz didn’t block the ball, though, and Furcal was safe at first. Martin followed with a single before Manny hit a three-run homer to make it 8-5. The lead stood up for the Phils, thanks to Durbin, Romero, Lidge and Madson, who combined to throw four shutout innings.

Game three was the game the Phillies lost, falling 7-2 in LA. Moyer got the start and the Dodgers scored five times against him in the bottom of the first. Five of the first six Dodgers hitters to face Moyer reached base before he struck out Kemp for the second out of the inning with the bases loaded. He looked like he was going to get out of it down 2-0, but Blake DeWitt cleared the bases with a three-run triple that made it 5-0. A leadoff double by Howard helped the Phils cut the lead to 5-1 in the top of the second, but Moyer didn’t make it out of the bottom of the second. Furcal led off the bottom of the second with a homer that made it 6-1. Nomar Garciaparra extended the lead to 7-1 with an RBI-single off of Happ in the bottom of the fourth. Burrell drove in Utley with a single in the seventh for the Phillies other run.

Coming off of Myers throwing behind Ramirez in game one, LA starter Hiroki Kuroda threw a ball near the head of Shane Victorino in game three. It led to a bench-clearing incident after Victorino grounded out to end the inning.

Game four changed the series thanks to a late home run from Matt Stairs. Utley and Howard drove in runs off of Lowe in the top of the first, giving the Phils a 2-0 lead. Blake homered off of Blanton in the bottom of the first, cutting the lead to 2-1. Blanton protected the one-run lead until LA hit in the bottom of the fifth. Furcal led off with a walk and moved to second when Ethier followed with a bloop single. Ramirez followed with an RBI-single (2-2) and a ground out by Martin brought in Ethier to make it 3-2. Howard led off the sixth with a walk and came in to score on a wild pitch by Park to tie the game at 3-3. Blake led off the bottom of the sixth with a homer off of Durbin, though, making it 4-3, and a throwing error by Howard on a bunt by Furcal helped the Dodgers score another run to extend the lead to 5-3. That score held till the top of the eighth, when Howard led off with a single. Victorino followed two batters later and lined a ball out to right off of Corey Wade, tying the game at 5-5. Feliz flew out for the second out, but Ruiz delivered a two-out single off of Jonathan Broxton and Stairs followed and connected for a mammoth homer to put the Phils up 7-5. Romero and Lidge kept LA off the board in the eighth and the ninth.

It was hard to imagine LA coming back from Stairs dagger. They didn’t. Hamels outpitched Billingsley in game five with the Phillies winning 5-1. Rollins was the first batter of the game and he put the Phils up 1-0 with a home run to center. Howard and Burrell had RBI-singles in the third, making it 3-0. Furcal had an inning to forget in the fifth, making three errors as the Phils extended the lead to 5-0. Manny Ramirez homered off of Hamels with two outs in the sixth to get LA their only run of the game.

Kendrick and Myers are off the Phillies roster for the NLCS and have been replaced by Chan Ho Park and Eric Bruntlett. Bruntlett and Cairo are a lot of similar guys to have on your roster, especially since it means going with 11 pitchers. I think that’s a bad decision — I would rather have seen them carry 12 pitchers and just one of Bruntlett and Cairo given the bullpen struggles and the fact that I would be pretty worried about Park since he hasn’t pitched for the Phils since September 16.

On the other hand, if they weren’t comfortable with letting Kendrick pitch they shouldn’t have him on the roster. You should try to have 12 pitchers in your organization you feel okay about putting into a game, though. Cairo and Bruntlett both is a lot of Cairos and Bruntletts. Condrey and Walker sure must be wondering what is going on.

My guess is that the thinking here may be to try to put another right-handed bat on the bench out of fear of the lefties in the bullpen for the Dodgers, Kuo and Sherrill. Those guys are scary, but if that’s the reasoning I think the Phils may have overthought this one. If it is about putting another righty on the bench, I wonder if they considered Mayberry instead of Bruntlett. It sure seems like he would provoke a bit more worry in the Dodgers since he can hit the ball out of the yard.

This article suggests Pedro Martinez may start game two. I am hoping for Blanton and Pedro in game four. Blanton was 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.29 ratio in three post-season starts in the post-season in 2008. Manuel’s seeming reluctance to start him is curious to me. It no doubt has a lot to do with fear of his bullpen, but I’d just let him start.

There have been many technical problems with Philliesflow over the past few days. If the site goes down again for a long period of time, I may post at philliesflow.wordpress.com and would let people know where to find the site via the Philliesflow Twitter page.


Home field advantager

You’ve gotta be worried about the back of the pen and whether Rollins can get the offense rolling, but if you had a chance to pick a pair of Phillies you would like to play well against the Rockies I think you have to go with Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.

The Rockies aren’t fantastic when they’re facing lefties or playing on the road. They’ll be doing both in games one and two.

They sure can hit at Coors Fields, though. The Rockies hit 287/367/482 at home this season. They posted an .850 OPS for the year at home, which was the best mark in the National League. The Phillies were second in home OPS, but they were way back at .796. Colorado’s .850 home OPS was better than the OPS posted at home by every American League team except for the Yankees and Red Sox. If you’re not familiar with the American League, it’s like baseball but instead of Wandy Rodriguez grounding back to the mound they have Adam Lind hit a three-run homer.

Colorado scored 464 runs in their 81 games at home, which is more than any team in either league except for the Red Sox. Again, 14 of the teams play in the AL.

And they don’t just score runs at home, they win. Colorado went 51-30 at home this year. Only one other NL team had 51 or more wins at home. The Giants went 52-29.

They are, however, a whole lot worse on the road. 41-40 this season. Here’s how the runs the Phils and Rockies scored per game at home and on the road and the differences between the two compare for the season:

  Runs
scored per game
Runs
allowed per game
Diff
COL at Home 5.73 4.68 1.05
COL Away 4.20 4.15 .05
       
PHI at Home 5.03 4.53 .50
PHI Away 5.09 4.22 .87

The Rockies just weren’t very good on the road, scoring about the same number of runs per game that they allowed. At home their offense was silly good. Also notable is that the average number of runs they allowed at home per game was not up nearly as sharply as the number of runs they scored at home.

The Phillies, of course, unlike the Rockies, are very good on the road. The 48 games that the Phils won on the road was the most in the NL. No team in either league won more games on the road than the Phils. The Angels had an identical 48-33 record in road games for the season. Still, I don’t think the Phillies want to be heading to Colorado with their backs to the wall.

Cliff Lee will start game one for the Phillies.

Update: Here’s the roster for the NLDS. No Condrey, Walker or Bruntlett. Cairo, Bastardo, Myers and Kendrick are all on the team. I would rather have Condrey or Walker than Bastardo. I’m also going to be surprised if Myers is able to contribute.


And not just that but I think they have a problem in their bullpen

You may have noticed already, but the Phillies aren’t playing that well these days. Compared to anyone. They particularly aren’t playing well compared to some of the other National League teams they could face in the playoffs. Here’s a look at the records for five potential playoff teams in September as well as their runs scored and allowed per game for games this month and the difference between the two:

  W L Runs per
game
Allowed
per game
Diff
PHI 15 13 4.39 4.18 0.21
STL 13 11 4.63 3.63 1.00
LAD 15 10 5.24 3.80 1.44
COL 16 9 4.68 4.28 0.40
ATL 17 8 4.88 3.48 1.40

Not to be forgotten is that the Phillies had a magnificent run in September between September 8 to September 22 that gave them the lead that’s now shrinking. In that stretch they played 14 games and went 11-3. They scored 5.57 runs per game in that stretch and allowed 3.57 runs per game. In the 14 games in September that weren’t in the 9/8 to 9/22 run they have been miserable, scoring 3.21 runs per game while allowing 4.57.

This says that Carlos Ruiz could be back in the lineup tonight.

Pedro may start on Thursday.

In the article linked above, Rich Dubee mentions Happ, Blanton and Pedro among the guys who could finish a game for the Phillies. Sounds good to me. Jamie Moyer has a 2.08 ERA and an 0.69 ratio in 17 1/3 innings in relief this season.


I’m not saying it’s that big a deal, I’m just saying I’d feel better if they would outscore the Nationals

The Phillies played their last game before the All-Star break on July 12 this year. Here’s a look at the NL East standings at the end of the day on July 12 as well as the number of runs scored and allowed per game and the difference between the two for each team:

  W L R/G RA/G Dif
PHI 48 38 5.35 4.79 0.56
FLA 46 44 4.61 4.76 -0.14
ATL 43 45 4.24 4.31 -0.07
NYM 42 45 4.31 4.69 -0.38
WAS 26 61 4.38 5.62 -1.24

And here’s what the teams in the division have done since the break:

  W L R/G RA/G Dif
PHI 34 22 4.55 3.71 0.84
ATL 32 23 4.91 3.56 1.35
FLA 30 24 5.30 4.89 0.41
WAS 24 32 4.73 5.23 -0.50
NYM 21 36 4.00 4.77 -0.77

The Phils still have the best record in the second half of the season. But the Braves have scored more runs than the Phils and allowed fewer. By a lot. Despite the fantastic run differential for the second-half it looks like there’s not much chance Atlanta is going to figure out a way to get into the playoffs — they are six games out in the chase for the Wild Card and trail the Phils by 7 1/2 in the division.

The Phillies are doing a great job of preventing runs in the second half, allowing more than a run per game less than they allowed in the first half of the year. What they aren’t doing a great job of is scoring runs. They are fourth in the division in both runs scored and runs scored per game since the All-Star break. One of the three teams ahead of them in both of those categories is the Nationals, and they aren’t even considered a World Series contender. It’s not quite as awful as it seems like it should be — the Nats are seventh in the NL in runs scored overall for the season and tied for fifth since the All-Star break.

Tyler Walker would like to pitch in the post-season. I would like that too.

JA Happ hopes he can start Friday in Atlanta.


Phils pitching wishing there really were 500 days of summer

The Phillies might not be scoring a ton of runs these days, but they sure are pitching well. Here’s the number of runs they have allowed per game by month for the season:

Month Runs
allowed per game
April 5.60
May 4.75
June 4.77
July 3.59
August 3.59

In both July and August the Phillies played 27 games and allowed 97 runs, which is 3.59 runs per game. Both their starters and relievers have been improved over the last two months:

 
Before July

July and August
  ERA Ratio ERA Ratio
Total 4.79 1.47 3.28 1.19
SP 5.21 1.46 3.09 1.18
RP 4.07 1.47 3.72 1.23

While each of the groups was better in July and August than they were before, the starters were a whole lot better.

The area in which the starters showed tremendous improvement in July and August compared to the rest of the season was in preventing home runs. Here are the rates at which the starters and relievers allowed runs, hits, walks and home runs per nine innings before July and in July and August:

 
Before July

July and August
  R/9 H/9 BB/9 HR/9 R/9 H/9 BB/9 HR/9
SP 5.3 10.3 2.9 1.73 3.4 8.4 2.2 0.97
RP 4.4 8.5 4.8 0.97 4.0 7.9 3.1 0.82
TOT 4.9 9.6 3.6 1.45 3.6 8.3 2.5 0.93

So the starters allowed about 65% (3.4 over 5.3) of the runs per nine innings in July and August as they had in the previous months, but their improvement in preventing hits and walks wasn’t nearly that good. They allowed 82% of the hits per nine (8.4 over 10.3) and 77% of the walks. It was the home runs they allowed that were way down — they cut their rate of allowing home runs nearly in half, lowering it from 1.73 per nine innings to 0.97 per nine innings. That’s about 57% of the home runs per nine innings.

The relievers showed improvement too, but it wasn’t as dramatic as the improvement overall for the starters. For the bullpen it was the change in the walk rate that was most dramatic in July and August. They walked 3.1 batters per nine innings in July and August after walking 4.8 in the months before July.

The Phillies called up Jack Taschner. The linked article also suggests the Phillies may be considering calling up 19-year-old Anthony Gose to work as a pinch-runner. I would be surprised if that happened. Gose stole 75 bases for the Single-A BlueClaws while hitting 268/333/366 in 489 at-bats.

Brett Myers threw a 1-2-3 ninth to get the IronPigs a win last night.

The Phillies are 76-53 on the year, which puts them at 23 games above .500 for the first time since the 1993 season.


The soloists

The Phillies went 16-11 in August and are a nifty 36-18 since the end of June. August wasn’t their best month with the bats, though. It was actually their worst:

Month Runs per
game
April 5.95
May 5.29
June 4.77
July 5.67
August 4.48

Part of what’s curious about that is that the Phillies hit home runs at their highest rate of the season in August:

Month HR per 100
PA
April 3.64
May 3.62
June 3.64
July 3.24
August 4.19

The Phillies hit 43 home runs in August. Howard hit eleven, Rollins and Werth each hit seven and Utley hit six.

Forty-three is a lot of home runs for a month. The last time that the Phillies hit 43 or more home runs in a single month was June, 2004. Jim Thome hit 15 home runs for the Phils in June of 2004, which is silly. When Bonds hit 73 in 2001 he had just one month in which he hit 15 or more (Bonds hit 17 in May, 2001).

Compared to the other months of 2009, they also got a lot of hits:

Month H per 100
PA
April 23.37
May 22.62
June 21.91
July 22.89
August 22.90

The Phillies didn’t get hits at their best rate of the season during August, but they did get them at their second-best rate. Their hit rate was about the same as it was in May and July, months in which they scored more runs.

Oh whatever could it be? Well, I pretty sure you know and, if you’ve been watching the Phillies, you probably knew before you started reading this post:

Month BB per 100
PA
April 10.05
May 9.86
June 8.90
July 10.75
August 7.99

The Phillies may have gotten a lot of hits and hit a lot of homers in August, but they didn’t score a lot of runs compared to the rest of the season. A big part of the reason is that their walk rate was miserable, the worst it has been for any month this season.

The Phillies designated Brad Harman for assignment, added John Ennis to the 40-man roster and put Ennis on the DL. Ennis has gotten one out this season for the IronPigs and allowed five runs. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery and you won’t see him pitching any time soon. The linked article points out that “his presence on the DL allows the Phillies to add any player that is in the organization on Aug. 31 to the postseason roster.”


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