Tag: Phillies

And down the stretch they come

The Phillies still have forty games left to play, almost a quarter of the season, but it sure looks like they’re going to the playoffs again in 2009. A look at the standings shows there are eight teams in the National League within eight games of a spot in the playoffs. The Phils, Cardinals and Dodgers lead the three divisions. The Rockies would be the Wild Card team if the season ended today and Atlanta, Florida, Chicago and San Francisco are all less than eight games behind in the chase for the playoffs.

The table below shows what those eight teams did in the first half of the season. Their record, winning percentage, the number of runs they scored per game, the number of runs they allowed per game and the difference between the number of runs they scored per game and the number of runs they allowed per game.

Team W L PCT R/G RA/G RD/G
PHI 48 38 .558 5.35 4.79 0.56
ATL 43 45 .489 4.24 4.31 -0.07
FLA 46 44 .511 4.61 4.76 -0.14
             
STL 49 42 .538 4.43 4.12 0.31
CHI 43 43 .500 4.13 4.10 0.02
             
LAD 56 32 .636 5.03 3.84 1.19
COL 47 41 .534 5.02 4.60 0.42
SF 49 39 .557 4.18 3.68 0.50

The Dodgers were the best team in the NL in the first half of the season by a wide margin. Their pitching was almost as good as the Giants and their offense was better than any team except for the Phillies. They scored 1.19 runs more per game on average than they allowed. The Phillies were second-best in the NL in that differential and the Dodgers were more than twice as good as the Phillies.

Atlanta, Florida and Chicago all had weak first halves of the season compared to the rest of the group. The Giants had fantastic pitching, the best in the league, but a weak offense. The Cards were in the middle of the pack in both scoring and preventing runs while the Rockies put a lot of runs on the board but allowed more per game than any teams other than the Phils and Marlins. The Phils scored the most runs per game of the eight teams but also allowed the most.

Here’s what the eight teams have done since the All-Star break:

Team W L PCT R/G RA/G RD/G
PHI 24 12 .667 5.19 3.56 1.64
ATL 23 13 .639 5.28 3.44 1.83
FLA 19 15 .559 5.09 4.71 0.38
             
STL 23 12 .657 4.63 3.60 1.03
CHI 19 17 .528 4.94 4.47 0.47
             
LAD 18 19 .486 4.32 3.78 0.54
COL 24 13 .649 5.30 4.00 1.30
SF 18 19 .486 3.70 3.95 -0.24

The Cards, Phillies, Braves and Rockies have all been fantastic in the second half. Each of the four teams has played to a winning percentage of .639 or higher. Of the four teams, the Braves have a 23-13 record to give them the worst winning percentage of the group. By run differential per game, though, Atlanta has been the best of the eight teams since the break. They have been the best of the eight teams at preventing runs while only the Rockies have scored more. The Braves have played 36 games since the break and won 23, scoring 190 runs and allowing 124. Pythagoras has them expecting to have won more games — 25-11 rather than their actual 23-13.

While those four teams have taken off, the Dodgers and the Giants have tanked out West with each team under .500 in the second half. The Giants still can’t score runs, but their pitching is no longer outstanding compared to the rest of the group. After being the best team at preventing runs in the first half of the year, the Phils, Braves, Cards and Dodgers have all done a better job keeping teams from scoring in the second half.

The Dodgers were second-best of the eight in preventing runs in the first half, but have been passed by the Phils, Braves and Cards in the second. They have a monster offense in the first half of the year, scoring more runs per game than any team other than the Phillies. The hitting has been meager since the break and the 4.32 runs per game the Dodgers have scored is worse than every team in the group other than the Giants.

The Cubs are just two games over .500 for the year at 62-60. The Fish have played to a .559 winning percentage in the second half, but their ability to prevent runs was seventh-best in the first half of the year and last in the group in the second. Not sure they have enough offense to make up for that.

Here’s what the numbers for the eight teams look like when you combine the first and second halves of the year:

Team W L PCT R/G RA/G RD/G
PHI 72 50 .590 5.30 4.43 0.88
ATL 66 58 .532 4.54 4.06 0.48
FLA 65 59 .524 4.74 4.74 0.00
             
STL 72 54 .571 4.48 3.98 0.51
CHI 62 60 .508 4.37 4.21 0.16
             
LAD 74 51 .592 4.82 3.82 1.00
COL 71 54 .568 5.10 4.42 0.68
SF 67 58 .536 4.04 3.76 0.28

It’s hard to argue that anyone but the Dodgers have been the best team in the NL this season. Despite their struggles since the break, LA has the best winning percentage on the season and the best differential per game in the number of runs they’ve scored and allowed. The Phils are aren’t far behind, though.

So who’s going to the playoffs in the NL this season? We’re going to have to wait and see. If I had to guess, though, the guess that things will stay the same seems like the best by a wide margin — the Phils, Cards and Dodgers win the divisions with the Rockies as the Wild Card team. I’m going to be real surprised if the Fish, Cubs or Giants make the playoffs. Neither are likely, but I think the other two scenarios that are more possible are 1) The Rockies win the West with the Dodgers as the Wild Card or, a lot less likely than that, 2) The Braves pass either the Rockies or the Dodgers to win the Wild Card.

This article makes it sound like we shouldn’t be expecting Condrey or Romero to return from the DL any day now.

Brett Myers threw a scoreless inning for Lakewood yesterday and says he is throwing 93-94 miles per hour in this article.


And not just that but you should see how good their numbers are when they don’t allow any runs

Today’s point is that you have better results as a starting pitcher in games when you don’t allow a home run. Really it is.

You probably would have guessed that’s the case. What you might not have guessed is how dramatic the difference can be. Here, for example, are the differences in results for the three Phillies pitchers who have made more than 10 starts this season in games when they have and have not allowed at least one home run in a game:

 
Starts where he allowed at least 1 HR in game

Starts where he allowed 0 HR in game
  Team
record
ERA Ratio Team
Record
ERA Ratio
Hamels 3-5 5.73 1.50 4-2 2.92 1.30
Blanton 4-7 5.76 1.45 3-0 2.50 1.33
Moyer 5-6 7.56 1.68 3-1 2.52 1.12

The Phils are 22-21 in the games started by the trio — 10-3 in the 13 games where they didn’t allow a home run and 12-18 in the 30 where they did.

Here are the numbers for the three combined when they have and have not allowed at least one home run in a start for the season:


IP

ER

H

BB

SO

ERA

Ratio

Allowed HR

175.3

119

216

43

137

6.11

1.48

Didn’t allow HR

80

24

78

22

66

2.70

1.25

In the case of those three so far this year, they’ve struck hitters out at a better rate and prevented hits at a much better rate in the starts where they’ve allowed a home run. What’s a little curious to me is that they’ve walked hitters at a higher rate as a group in the starts where they did not allow a home run than the starts where they did. In the starts where they didn’t allow a home run they walked 22 in 80 innings or 2.47 per nine innings. In the starts where they did allow at least one homer they walked 2.21 per nine. Both Hamels and Blanton walked have walked more batters in their games this season when they didn’t allow a home run than in their games where they did.

It’s obviously a tiny amount of data, but, also curiously, Hamels also issued more walks in his starts in 2008 when he didn’t allow a home run. Here:


Hamels ’08
  IP ERA Ratio BB/9
Starts
allowed HR
123.7 4.37 1.18 1.75
No HR 103.7 1.56 0.96 2.52

The numbers are way better overall in the non-home run starts, but he walked more batters per nine innings. Since his ratio was so much lower in the non-home run starts you can probably guess that he allowed a lot fewer hits. He did — 6.16 hits per nine in starts when he didn’t allow a home run and 8.88 hits per nine in starts he did.

Blanton is the other guy of the trio who is walking more guys this season in his starts when he doesn’t allow a home run. He’s had kind of a brutal transition from Oakland. In 2008, between his starts for Oakland and Philly he allowed 22 home runs in 197 2/3 innings. So far in ’09 he’s allowed 17 in 83 2/3 innings. His numbers weren’t as dramatic as Hamels’ for last year, but he did walk batters at a slightly higher rate in his starts when he did not allow a home run:


Blanton ’08
  IP ERA Ratio BB/9
Starts
allowed HR
112 5.06 1.38 2.97
No HR 85.7 4.20 1.42 3.05

This says that Happ will start tomorrow, Ibanez and Eyre are rehabbing and that Lopez, Carrasco or Carpenter could start on Friday against the Mets.


No place like home for a Phillies pitcher, but not in a good way

The Phillies have been amazing on the road this season and struggling badly at home. As you can probably guess, they are scoring more runs on their games on the road. The chart below shows how many runs they have scored overall, in their games at home and on the road and the total number of runs they would score if they produced runs at that rate over 162 games for each category:

  G RS RS/G RS/G*162
Total 61 337 5.52 895
Home 29 145 5.00 810
Away 32 192 6.00 972

And, as you have also probably guessed, they have been much better at preventing runs on the road than they have at home:

  G RA RA/G RA/G*162
Total 61 298 4.89 791
Home 29 161 5.55 899
Away 32 137 4.28 694

Clearly the Phillies have been better at both scoring and preventing runs on the road. One of those areas has been a much bigger issue than the other, though. To give you a hint, the thing where they’re scoring five runs a game at home isn’t so much a problem.

Not counting yesterday’s games, here’s how many runs the teams in the NL have scored per games this season (ordered by the number of runs they’ve scored):

Team G R RS/Game
Philadelphia
LA Dodgers
Colorado
Florida
Milwaukee
NY Mets
St. Louis
Pittsburgh
Washington
Arizona
Atlanta
Cincinnati
Houston
Chicago Cubs
San Francisco
San Diego
61
64
63
65
63
61
64
63
62
64
62
62
62
60
62
62
337
321
318
307
288
284
279
278
277
274
263
262
260
253
248
241
5.52
5.02
5.05
4.72
4.57
4.66
4.36
4.41
4.47
4.28
4.24
4.23
4.19
4.22
4.00
3.89

The Phillies have been awful at home this season in terms of wins and losses. They’ve scored a run a game more on the road than they have at home, but they’re still scoring five runs a game at home. Five runs a game is a lot. There are 15 teams in the NL that aren’t the Phillies. Two of them have scored five runs a game or more this season. If the Phillies played 162 games and scored runs at the rate they are scoring them at home, they would score 810 runs. That’s more runs than they scored in 2008. In ’08 there was only one NL team that scored more than 810 runs for the season — the Cubs scored 855.

So while the Phillies may be scoring less runs at home than they are on the road, they’re still scoring a ton of runs at home.

The bigger problem is the rate at which they are allowing runs. Here’s the number of runs allowed by NL teams this season:

Team G RA RA/Game
Washington
Florida
Arizona
San Diego
Colorado
Philadelphia
Houston
Atlanta
Milwaukee
Pittsburgh
St. Louis
NY Mets
Cincinnati
Chicago Cubs
LA Dodgers
San Francisco
61
64
63
61
62
60
61
61
62
62
63
60
61
59
63
61
355
324
304
301
295
292
290
271
267
267
266
265
259
243
237
232
5.82
5.06
4.83
4.93
4.76
4.87
4.75
4.44
4.31
4.31
4.22
4.42
4.25
4.12
3.76
3.80

Again, 15 teams in the NL that aren’t the Phillies. Just one of them, the miserable Nationals, are allowing more runs per game for the season than the 5.55 that the Phillies have allowed at home. If the Phils allowed 5.55 runs per game over 162 games they would allow about 899. No team in the NL allowed that many runs in 2008. The Pirates allowed the most runs and they gave up 884.

Joe Savery is pitching well at Reading.


Order reform

Not counting last night’s game, the Phillies were on pace to score 890 runs this season a year after being tied for second in the NL with 799 runs scored. The Phillies have had the best offense in the league so far this season — they are second in the NL in runs scored but trail only the Dodgers who have played four more games than they have.

Not only has the rate at which the team scores runs been changing, but the positions in the batting order that are scoring the runs is also changing. Here’s how many runs each of the positions in the batting order have scored this season, the pace that each of the spots in the order is on pace to score this season, the percent of the team’s runs that accounts for and the runs scored and percentages for last year:

  2009 2009 on
pace
% of runs 2008
% of runs
1 33 97 10.9 106 13.3
2 43 127 14.2 119 14.9
3 46 135 15.2 108 13.5
4 37 109 12.3 106 13.3
5 46 135 15.2 93 11.6
6 30 88 9.9 78 9.8
7 25 74 8.3 67 8.4
8 18 53 6.0 75 9.4
9 24 71 7.9 47 5.9
           
Total 302 890 100 799 100

The Phillies are on pace to score 91 more runs than they did in 2008. Of the nine positions in the batting order, five are accounting for a lesser percentage of the runs that the scored last season. Just four spots, three, five, six and nine, are accounting for a higher percentage.

The sixth spot in the order is up, but just by a tiny bit. The consistency in the percentage of the team’s runs scored by that position has been surprising. In 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, the number six hitters in the Phillies lineup have scored either 9.8% or 9.9% of the Phillies runs every season.

Surprising to me was that the nine hitters are scoring a higher percentage of the runs this season. That may have more to do with what the non-pitchers are doing in the nine-hole than the pitchers. Not including last night’s games, the non-pitchers hitting in the nine-hole had gone 25-for-87 (.287) with five home runs and 17 RBI on the year. In 2008, non-pitchers hitting in the nine-hole went 58-for-233 (.222) with six home runs and 36 RBI for the season.

The middle of the order is where the Phillies are seeing the biggest increases in terms of their runs scored. Despite the fact that the team overall is on a pace to score nearly a hundred more runs than they did last year, the top two hitters are on pace to score fewer runs than they did in ’08. In 2008 the top two hitters in the lineup scored 225 runs — through the first 55 games they are on pace to score 224 in ’09.

The fifth spot in the order is the place where the Phillies have seen the most dramatic increase in the number of runs scored. They are on a pace to have their five-hitters score 42 more runs than they did in ’08. Werth and Ibanez have both been good hitting fifth for the Phils this year, but a big factor in the increase in the runs scored also has to be the improvements with the bats by Feliz and Ruiz. Feliz and Ruiz have combined to drive in 42 runs in 331 plate appearances this season. In ’08 they combined to drive in 89 in 836 plate appearances. At the rate they are driving in runs in ’09 they would knock in 106 if they got 836 plate appearances.

The MLB Network’s The Pen, a reality show featuring members of the Phillies bullpen, will debut on Sunday.

Raul Ibanez insists he did not use steroids. And you know what? I believe him. I’m pretty sure a whole lot of people do. I’m also sure that the culture of guilty-until-proven-innocent must be nearly impossible for players who haven’t used performance enhancing drugs to deal with these days. He goes to the parent’s basement card a little early, though. He definitely solved all the problems one can solve by calling the person you have an issue with a coward and an idiot. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t any blogger in any basement anywhere that created the culture of suspicion that he and everyone else in baseball has to live with now — it was so many baseball players using steroids and lying about it to so many people under so many different circumstances.


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).


And whatever you do, don’t let the starting pitcher pitch well

You win a whole lot when you get quality starts. At least you do if you’re the Phillies in recent history. Here is what they’ve done over the past three seasons:

  ERA W-L WPCT
Quality Starts 2.36 169-67 .716
Not Quality Starts 7.95 97-153 .388

In 2009, however, the Phillies have a better winning percentage in their games when they do not get a quality start than they games when they do:

  ERA W-L WPCT
Quality Starts 2.86 10-9 .526
Not Quality Starts 8.74 15-11 .577

Given that it makes about zero sense that the Phillies would have a better record in the 26 games where their starting pitchers threw to an 8.74 ERA than in the 19 games where their starters threw to a 2.86 ERA, you would probably guess that the Phillies offense scored a lot more runs in the games where their starting pitcher did not make a quality start than in the games where he did. And you would be right. In the 19 games in ’09 where the Phillies got a quality start they scored 88 runs or about 4.63 runs per game. In the 26 games where they didn’t get a quality start they’ve scored 161 runs. That’s 6.19 runs per game.

The Phils also scored more runs in games when they did not get quality starts in 2008 than they did in 2009. In 2008 they scored 400 runs in the 74 games when they did not get quality starts (5.40 runs per game) and 399 runs in the 88 games where they did get a quality start (4.53 runs per game). So in 2008 they scored more runs in the non-quality starts games like they have in ’09. In 2009 the difference between the number of runs they’ve scored in quality starts and non quality starts is more dramatic. In ’09 they scored about 1.34 times as many runs in non quality starts (6.19 over 4.63) while in 2008 they scored about 1.19 times as many runs in non quality starts (5.40 over 4.53). Also of note is that while the number of runs they’ve scored in games where they get a quality start has stayed about the same from ’08 to ’09 while the number of runs they’ve scored when they don’t has gone up dramatically.

The fact that the Phillies scored a lot more runs in the games where they didn’t get a quality start this year made me wonder how the number of runs their starting pitcher has allowed related to the number of runs they scored in the game in 2009. Generally speaking, as the number of runs their starter has allowed has gone up so has the number of runs they’ve scored:

RA by SP G Runs
scored
RS/G
0 3 12 4.0
1 3 21 7.0
2 7 35 5.0
3 8 28 3.5
4 9 53 5.9
5 8 59 7.4
6 2 15 7.5
7 5 26 5.2
       
Total 45 249 5.5
       
Three or fewer 21 96 4.6
More than three 24 153 6.4
       
Total 45 249 5.5

I’m pretty sure there are some people out there who know how well the number of runs your starting pitcher allows correlates with the number of runs your offense scores in a particular game. I’m not one of them. I would bet, though, that the answer is higher than you think.

The news on Brett Myers and his hip problem is not good. It seems likely that he will miss some if not all of the regular season. Todd Zolecki talked with Amaro about what the Phillies might do. The loss of Myers is a huge blow for a team that had enormous problems with the starting pitching already.


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