Tag: Ryan Madson

Right fielders without partners

Idea day at Philliesflow. Not good idea day, though. Just idea. You’ll have plenty of advanced notification before good idea day arrives.

Idea one: Switch-hitter Delwyn Young should platoon with Francisco in right field. Idea two: lefty Brandon Moss should platoon with Francisco in right field.

Numbers to the rescue — here’s some career numbers against right-handed pitching for Young, Moss and Francisco:

Francisco 867 6.7 19.0 262 323 440 .762
Young 567 7.2 23.8 260 317 393 .710
Moss 604 7.6 22.5 236 298 387 .685

It really seems like Brandon Moss sure ought to be the answer to this question. But he’s not. There’s not really any case to be made that Moss has been better against right-handed pitching to this point in his career than Francisco has. It seems like Moss ought to be a lot younger than those other guys, too, but, again, he’s not. Okay, he’s a little younger. Moss turns 28 in September, Francisco 30 in October and Young 29 in June.

Of course, if you want to worry about Francisco against righties, I hope you won’t let anything you read here stop you. A good place to start would be Francisco’s numbers against righties in 2010:

Francisco 101 5.9 19.8 253 310 330 .640

101 plate appearances should go a long way there towards making you feel at least a little better. Not all better though, cause a .330 slugging percentage isn’t really what you’re looking for from your corner outfielder. Jayson Werth, for example, slugged .556 against righties last season. So if Francisco’s was to slug .330 against righties and play regularly in right in 2011, I think it wouldn’t take too long for us to notice a difference. He was miserable against righties in 2010 and the Phillies are going to have a big problem if those numbers don’t improve a whole lot against them in 2011. I think they will, but finding a corner outfielder that can hit lefties doesn’t seem like it should be too daunting a task. At the same time, the Phillies haven’t done it yet and their best candidate just broke his hand after going 1-for-16 with nine strikeouts.

Yesterday the offense was shut down and the Oswalt scuffled as the Phils fell to the Yankees, 7-1. The Phillies are 5-6 in official spring games.

Oswalt got the start and didn’t fare well, allowing five runs over 2 2/3 innings. Eduardo Nunez hit a three-run homer off of him in the second and Curtis Granderson connected for a two-run shot in the third. Worley finished off the third and threw a scoreless fourth before allowing a pair of runs on three singles and a walk in the fifth. After Worley, Drew Naylor, Brian Bass and Ryan Feierabend combined to give the Phils 3 1/3 scoreless innings.

Worley has now allowed ten hits and two walks over six innings.

The Phils had two hits through six innings, a single by Victorino and a solo home run by Valdez. Rollins had a single in the seventh and Pete Orr doubled in the eighth. Joel Naughton had a pinch-hit single in the ninth for the other Phillie hit. Polanco was 0-for-3 with an error. Howard, Francisco and Gload were all 0-for-3. Gload continues to not play the outfield, what with not being an outfielder and all. He started the game at first.

Among the regulars who haven’t had a great spring, Rollins is hitting .208, Ibanez .200 and Polanco .238.

Hamels starts against the Orioles today.

This says that Ibanez would likely hit third if Utley were to miss a lot of time.

This says that the Phils now don’t expect to know how the much the cortisone injection has helped Utley until the weekend. It also says that Brown will have surgery on his hand today in Philadelphia.

Madson would like to close and will be a free agent after the 2011 season.

Walks, walks till we drop

Just in case there was someone out there who isn’t tired of reading about walks yet.

Earlier this week I looked at 2010 Phillies that walked both less than 3.32 batters per nine innings and less than 8.59% of the batters they faced.

For the players in that group who threw at least 50 innings, the table below shows how their walk rate per nine innings with the Phillies in 2010 compares to their career walk rate per nine innings coming into the season. They are ordered by the difference between their ’10 walk rate with the Phils and their walk rate coming into last season.

BB/9 before 2010 BB/9 in 2010 Difference
Moyer 2.57 1.61 0.96
Halladay 1.96 1.08 0.88
Contreras 3.27 2.54 0.73
Madson 2.82 2.20 0.62
Blanton 2.56 2.20 0.36
Kendrick 2.70 2.44 0.26
Herndon No history 2.92 -
Oswalt 2.06 2.29 (0.23)
Hamels 2.28 2.63 (0.35)

Despite throwing to a 4.84 ERA, Jamie Moyer had a 1.10 ratio last season. In 111 2/3 innings, he walked just 20. He posted the best walk rate of his career in his 24th season.

Halladay has been in the top seven in his league for fewest walks per nine innings for each of the past five seasons. In four of those years he’s been in the top three. His walk rate per nine innings was also the best of his career.

Contreras nearly had the best rate of walks per nine for his career. He was a tiny bit better in 2006, but was still way below his career levels in 2010.

Madson posted the best rate of his career (with the exception of 2003, when he didn’t walk any of the six batters he faced). In 2007, all of Madson’s appearances came in relief and he walked 23 of the 237 batters he faced (9.7%). In 2010, Madson walked 13 of the 217 batters he faced (6.0%).

Blanton finished sixth in the NL in fewest walks per nine innings. It was his sixth season in a row in which he has made at least 28 starts. The only year of his career where he had a better rate of walks per nine innings was 2007 when he was with Oakland.

Kendrick’s best year at preventing walks came in 2007, when he threw to a 3.87 ERA for the Phils over 20 starts. In that season he only threw 121 innings, but walked just 25. That’s a rate of 1.86 walks per nine innings. Kendrick didn’t have enough innings to qualify among the league leaders, but in 2007, Greg Maddux led the NL with 1.14 walks per nine and Aaron Harang was second at 2.02. In 2008 and 2009 combined, Kendrick walked 66 in 182 innings, which is too many (3.26 per nine). That number was way down in 2010, but not down to his 2007 levels.

Between his time with the Astros and Phillies combined, Oswalt was seventh in the NL in fewest walks per nine innings. In less than 100 innings with the Phils, his walk numbers were slightly higher than his career levels, but still low. In his 10-year career, Oswalt has been in the top ten in fewest walks per nine innings seven times.

The walk rate for Hamels was up. In his first year in the league, 2006, Hamels walked about 3.3 batters per nine innings. Over the next three years, Hamels made 93 starts combined starts and walked 2.07 batters per nine. That was up to 2.63 last year.

Comcast SportsNet will air eight Phillies Spring Training specials, the first of which will air on Sunday. Schedule here.

This article on the bullpen guesses that Bastardo and Kendrick win the last two spots in the pen, joining Lidge, Madson, Contreras, Romero and Baez. That is my guess as well.

This article on the bench suggests that Brown, Mayberry and Delwyn Young may be the top candidates to join Gload, Schneider and Valdez. I am going to be surprised if the Phils start the season with Francisco and Mayberry as the guys in right. Delwyn Young and Valdez on the same bench seems like it would be more guys of the Delwyn Young and Wilson Valdez ilk than one team would need at one time. Young is a switch-hitter and can play the outfield, but his 260/317/393 line against righties doesn’t really cry out for regular playing time in right no matter how desperate the Phils get for platoon partners for Francisco.

Fans hopeful the Phils find a way to get Madson a break next year that doesn’t require him to kick any chairs

Most fans will remember that the bullpen in 2010 was nothing special for the Phils, and that they lost the NLCS after Juan Uribe broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning of game six with a home run off of Ryan Madson. I’m guessing that fewer remember that

  • Madson was pitching his second inning of the game after throwing a scoreless seventh
  • He threw 32 pitches in the game and Uribe’s homer came on his 28th pitch of the game
  • He had thrown in game four (32 pitches in 1 2/3 innings) and game five (one inning, 13 pitches) with an off-day between games five and six
  • He pitched in five of the six games in the NLCS, throwing 6 2/3 innings in five appearances over six games. The rest of team combined to throw 12 1/3 innings in relief in the NLCS, including Oswalt’s work in relief in game four.
  • In game two of the NLCS he started the ninth and pitched a scoreless inning with a five-run lead

So the Phils leaned hard on Madson in the NLCS. And he pitched well, allowing a run in the five appearances on the Uribe homer over 6 2/3 innings. They leaned hard on him at the end of the regular season as well. From July 15 through September 29, Madson made 43 appearances for the Phils in which he threw to a 1.54 ERA and an 0.88 ratio over 41 innings while striking out 49. From August 20 through September 15, the Phillies played 27 games and Madson appeared in 18 of them.

Only two pitchers threw more innings in relief for the Phils in 2010 than Madson did. Contreras threw 3 2/3 more innings and Durbin threw 15 2/3 more innings. But Madson missed more than two full months of the season — he didn’t pitch between April 28 and July 8.

If the question is whether the Phillies leaned too hard on Madson or not, I think the answer is yes. There’s no question that Madson was the best bullpen arm the Phillies had in 2010, but they did have four other guys that made at least 50 appearances with an ERA+ better than 100 for the year (Lidge, Durbin, Contreras and Romero).

Regardless of whether the Phillies asked too much of Madson last year or not, their NLCS loss had a lot more to do with their ability to produce runs than it did with their ability to prevent them. It did make me wonder, though, how the performance of the bullpen in the post-season over the past four years has compared to the performance of the bullpen in the regular season.

Here’s the ERA and ratio that the Phillies bullpen has thrown to over the past four years, both during the regular season and in the post-season. Also included is the team’s rank for the year in the NL in runs allowed per bullpen inning pitched.

Year Regular Season ERA Regular Season Ratio NL R Pen R/IP Post-season ERA Post-season ratio
2007 4.50 1.50 13 6.52 1.76
2008 3.22 1.38 1 1.79 1.21
2009 3.91 1.38 9 4.20 1.52
2010 4.02 1.39 8 1.89 1.21

Compared to the rest of the NL, the bullpen was really bad in 2007 during the regular season. It was terrible during the post-season as well as the Phils were swept by the Rockies. Matt Holliday homered off of Gordon in game one as they Phils fell 4-2. Game two was a nightmare in which Lohse, Mesa and Condrey combined to allow five runs in 3 1/3 innings after an early exit by Kendrick and the Phils were blown out. With two outs, nobody on and the game tied at 1-1 in the eighth inning of game three, JC Romero allowed three straight singles and a run that put Colorado on top to stay at 2-1.

By runs allowed per inning pitched, the Phillies were the best pen in the NL in 2008. They were fantastic in the post-season as well as Lidge, Madson and Romero combined to thrown 29 1/3 innings over 14 games and allowed four runs while throwing to a 1.23 ERA with an 0.85 ratio. The other guys in the pen combined to throw just 11 innings. After allowing four runs in four games against the Brewers, the bullpen would allow just five runs in the ten games they played against the Dodgers and Rays. One of those runs was unearned. In game one of the NLCS, Madson and Lidge combined to throw two scoreless innings of relief as the Phils beat the Dodgers 3-2. There were five games in the 2008 World Series and the Phillies won three of them by one run. In game one, Madson and Lidge combined to strike out three in two perfect innings as the Phils won 3-2. In game three, Madson surrendered a run to BJ Upton and the Rays in the eighth to tie the game at 4-4, but Romero followed him with 1 1/3 scoreless frames and the Phils won 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth when Ruiz’s dribbler scored Bruntlett. Madson, Lidge and Romero out-pitched the Tampa Bay pen in part two of game five as the Phils won 4-3.

The bullpen was nowhere near as good in the post-season in 2009. Blanton appeared in relief in games two and three, allowing runs in both appearances.

Madson allowed two runs on four hits in the eighth inning of game one of the NLCS with the Dodgers, but the Phils held on to win 8-6. Chan Ho Park started the eighth inning of game two with a 1-0 lead and allowed a pair of runs in game two and the Phils lost 2-1. After game two the pen was great, holding the Dodgers to a run (charged Park in the eighth inning of game five with the Phils up 9-3) over 8 2/3 innings.

The ’09 World Series started well for the pen. Lee threw a complete game to start the series as the Phils took a 1-0 lead. They lost game two 3-1, with all three runs charged to Pedro Martinez. They failed in game three, though. The Phils jumped out to a 3-0 lead before New York took a 5-3 lead off of Hamels with two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth. Happ, Durbin and Myers followed Hamels — all three of them allowed runs and they combined to give up three runs over 3 2/3 innings. Lidge got hammered in game four after a regular season in which he had thrown to a 7.21 ERA. The ninth started tied at 4-4. Lidge got the first two. Damon singled, stole second, stole third. Lidge hit Teixeira. A-Rod doubled. 5-4 with men on second and third. Posada hit a two-run single to make it 7-4, which was how it ended. Madson allowed a run on three hits in the ninth inning of game five, but the Phils held on for an 8-6 win. Pedro had nothing in game six, but Durbin didn’t do much to put out the fire. With the Phils down 4-1, Durbin started the fifth and was charged with three runs (with an assist to Happ, who gave up a two-run double to Matsui with both runs charged to Durbin).

The one of these things that’s not like the others for the Phils was the 2010 post-season. The Phillie bullpen was far from fantastic in the 2010 regular season, but pitched very well in the post-season. The Phils got two complete games while sweeping the Reds in the NLDS, one from Halladay and one from Hamels. In the other, Oswalt went just five innings, but was backed up by Romero, Durbin, Contreras, Madson and Lidge, who combined to allow a hit and two walks over four scoreless frames.

The bullpen didn’t allow a run in the first three games of the NLCS, either, making it the first six games of the 2010 post-season that the bullpen had not been charged with a run. Madson and Lidge combined to throw two scoreless innings in game one, but the Phils lost by a run anyway. Madson allowed a walk and a hit in the only inning thrown by the pen in game two, but the Phils rolled to a 6-1 win behind Oswalt. Contreras threw two perfect innings behind Hamels in game three as the Phils managed just three hits and fell 3-0 to fall behind two games to one.

They lost game four, too. They started the bottom of the sixth up 4-3, but Durbin allowed a pair of runs on two doubles and two walks and the Giants pulled ahead 5-4. The Phils tied the game in the top of the eighth on back-to-back doubles by Howard and Werth. Oswalt started the ninth with the game still tied, but allowed back-to-back singles with one out to put men on first and third. Uribe hit a fly ball deep enough for Aubrey Huff to tag, score and win the game for the Giants.

In game five, Contreras, Romero, Madson and Lidge combined to throw three scoreless frames in relief of Halladay and the Phils took the game 4-2 to stay alive. Madson, for the record, looked fantastic as he struck out the side on 13 pitches in a perfect eighth.

Not so much in game six, though. In Madson’s second inning of work, Uribe homered off of him to put the Giants on top to stay at 3-2.

Much ado about how much there is to do

One thing to remember when you consider how many innings the new rotation might save the pen in 2011 is that in 2010 the bullpen threw less innings than any other team in the National League. Phillie relievers tossed just 421 innings last year, the fewest in the league by a fairly wide margin. The Arizona Diamondbacks were 15th in the NL in bullpen innings pitched with 439. The Giants were 14th, and they threw 461 innings in relief — 40 more than the Phillies. Only one team in the DH-loving AL threw fewer innings in relief. The Mariners called on their pen to throw 419 1/3 innings, which was 1 2/3 less than the Phillies.

So even before adding Cliff Lee to the rotation, and even without a full year of Oswalt, the Phillies were already calling on their bullpen to throw fewer innings than any team in their league and almost any other team in baseball.

For the last three seasons, the Phils have been in the bottom half in the NL in terms of innings pitched in relief. In two of the three years they have been among the three teams that threw the fewest innings in relief.

Here’s the number of innings the Phillies bullpen has thrown per season over the past five years and their rank in innings pitched in relief in the NL for that year:

Year IP in relief NL rank innings pitched in relief
2010 421 16
2009 492 9
2008 483 14
2007 520 8
2006 539 4

In 2006, the Phillies threw 539 innings in relief. Only three teams in the NL threw more innings in relief that year, the Mets, Nationals and Cubs. By 2008, only two NL teams (the Brewers and the Diamondbacks) threw fewer innings in relief than the Phils. In 2010, the Phils were 16th in the 16-team league in innings pitched by their relievers (no NL team threw fewer).

There is bad news, though, and that’s that the bullpens, with one notable exception, have generally not gotten better at preventing runs as the number of innings they throw relative to the rest of the league goes down. The table below has the same three columns as the table above, but adds the NL rank for runs allowed per inning in relief for each year.

Year IP in relief NL rank innings pitched in relief NL Rank R/IP in relief
2010 421 16 8
2009 492 9 9
2008 483 14 1
2007 520 8 13
2006 539 4 3

In 2006, the bullpen was throwing a ton of innings, but they were also allowing fewer runs per inning pitched in relief than every bullpen in the league except for the Mets and the Padres. Last year the bullpen threw fewer innings than any other team in the league, but their effectiveness in terms of runs allowed per innings pitched was in the middle of the pack. 2008 is the only year in the last four in which the bullpen excelled at preventing runs. In that year the Phils were near the bottom of the league in bullpen innings pitched and at the very top in terms of runs allowed per inning pitched. You may recall that things turned out well for the team that year.

JC Romero appears to be headed back to the Phils. Five guys in the pen at this point: Romero, Baez, Contreras, Madson and Lidge. Many articles, including this post, suggest that the addition of Romero makes it less likely the Phils would bring back Durbin.

I didn’t hear no bell

Neither, apparently, did the Phillies. Led by Roy Halladay and the bullpen, the Phils gutted out a 4-2 win last night to stay alive in the NLCS. The Phillies still aren’t firing on all cylinders, but they’re getting closer. The cylinders that keep them giving everything they’ve got are the most important ones and they seem to be firing just fine.

If the Giants came into last night’s game not knowing they have work to do if they’re going to win the series, they know now.

We’ve seen Halladay nearly perfect this year, but he was far from it last night. I’m not sure we’re ever going to know exactly what was going on with him, but we’ll know part of it. From the opening batter when he didn’t get two close pitches to start the game, Halladay looked off. He looked like he was physically ill and we know he was injured. He made it through six innings, though, and he took the Phillies with him.

Halladay walked Andres Torres to start the bottom of the first. Torres moved to third on a single by Freddy Sanchez and came home on a grounder by Buster Posey to put the Giants up 1-0. The Phils jumped ahead in the third. Ibanez led off with a single and moved to second when Ruiz was hit by a pitch. Halladay bunted them to second and third on a ball that should have been called foul before Victorino smashed a ball to first. It went off of Aubrey Huff’s glove for a two-base error that allowed both runners to score and put the Phils up 2-1. Polanco followed that with an RBI-single that scored Victorino and made it 3-1. The Giants got another run in the bottom of the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Pat Burrell and Cody Ross, but Halladay held them to two runs over six innings and Contreras, Romero, Madson and Lidge backed him up with three shutdown frames.

Madson in particular looked like the rest of the world didn’t belong on the same field as he was. And he had thrown 32 pitches the day before.

The Phils trail the Giants three games to two in the NLCS after a 4-2 win last night.

Roy Halladay got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, both doubles. He struck out five.

That guy is unbelievable. They ought to charge people money just to watch him pitch.

He faced a Giants lineup that went (1) Andre Torres (CF/S) (2) Freddy Sanchez (2B/R) (3) Aubrey Huff (1B/L) (4) Buster Posey (C/R) (5) Pat Burrell (LF/R) (6) Cody Ross (RF/R) (7) Pablo Sandoval (3B/S) (8) Uribe (SS/R). Torres back in the starting lineup and leading off with Rowand on the bench. Uribe plays short with Renteria back on the bench. Sandoval at third with Fontenot out of the starting lineup.

The Giants had six players on the bench to start the game. Lefties Travis Ishikawa, Mike Fontenot and Nate Schierholtz and righties Eli Whiteside, Edgar Renteria and Aaron Rowand.

Torres led off the bottom of the first and walked on a 3-2 pitch after Halladay didn’t get a call on two close pitches to start the at-bat. Sanchez showed bunt and took strike one. Torres was running on the next pitch and Sanchez singled into center. It brought Huff to the plate with nobody out and men on first and third. Huff smoked a ball, but Howard made a diving play at first for the first out. Posey hit a 1-1 pitch slowly to second. Utley charged and looked like he was going to field, tag Sanchez and throw to first for the double-play, but didn’t handle the ball cleanly. He picked it up in time to get one out at second as Torres scored to make it 1-0. Burrell struck out looking 1-2 to end the inning.

The play that Howard made on the ball smashed by Huff might be about as big a defensive play you can make in the first inning. Starting Torres helps the Giants get a run. The Utley miscue wasn’t a sure double-play, but it would have been nice to have.

Halladay threw 18 pitches in the inning.

He struck Ross out swinging at a high fastball 1-2 for the first out in the second. Sandoval was next and had a long at-bat, grounding to short 3-2 on the tenth pitch. Uribe hit a 3-2 pitch hard, lining to short on the ninth pitch of his at-bat.

Long inning for Halladay. He had thrown 43 pitches through two innings.

He started the third with a 3-1 lead and got Lincecum on a ground ball to short for the first out. Torres was next and hit a ball to first that went off the glove of Howard and to Utley. Utley threw to Halladay covering first, but the throw was wild and backup up nicely by Ruiz. Torres was given a single. Sanchez lined to right for the second out and Huff swung at the first pitch and grounded to Utley to end the inning.

Short inning for Halladay that time. He was at 55 pitches after three.

Posey grounded to short to start the fourth. Burrell was next and he lined a 1-1 pitch into left for a double. Ross followed him and inside-outed an inside pitch down the right field line an into the right field corner for another double. Burrell scored to cut the lead to 3-2. Sandoval flew to right for the second out and Ross tagged and tried to go to third. Werth made a fantastic throw and Polanco tagged Ross out on a close play to end the inning.

Great throw by Werth. Halladay was up to 66.

Uribe swung at Halladay’s first pitch of the fifth and flew to center. Lincecum struck out looking 0-2 for the second out. Torres was next and smashed a ball to first that went off the glove of Howard for an error. Sanchez followed and singled to left on a 2-2 pitch with Torres moving to third. Huff dribbled a 1-2 pitch out in front of the plate. Ruiz got to it quickly and threw him out to set the Giants down.

Halladay was up to 82 pitches. The Howard error made him throw ten more than he should have, but Torres really crushed the ball.

Posey walked on a close 3-2 pitch that might have been low to start the sixth. Burrell was next and popped to Rollins 0-2. Ross struck out swinging 3-2 for the second out. Sandoval moved Posey to second with a single to right, but Halladay struck Uribe out swinging 3-2 to end the inning and leave both men stranded.

Halladay threw 26 pitches in the inning and was at 108 for the game.

Contreras started the seventh. Lefty Mike Fontenot hit for Lincecum and Contreras struck him out swinging 1-2 for the first out. Torres was next and chopped a 2-2 pitch back through the middle and into center for a single. Sanchez lined a 1-0 pitch to third for the second out and Romero came in to pitch to the lefty Huff. Huff got ahead 2-0 and hit a soft liner near second. Utley made a jumping ice cream cone catch for the third out.

Super catch by Utley at a big time. I’m still not exactly sure how he brought the ball down after he caught it, cause about half of it was hanging out of the end of his glove.

Contreras has allowed one hit, the single by Torres, over three innings in three appearances in the series.

Madson pitched the eighth having thrown 32 pitches in game four and was just silly good. He struck Posey out swinging 2-2, Burrell out swinging 0-2 and Ross out swinging 1-2.

Madson has allowed two hits and two walks over 4 2/3 scoreless innings in the series, striking out seven.

Lidge started the ninth with a 4-2 lead. He got Sandoval on a fly ball to right for the first out. Uribe was next and grounded to short for the second. The lefty Ishikawa hit for the pitcher Affeldt and Lidge struck him out swinging 2-2 to end the game.

Everyone in the pen gets an off day today and should be available on Saturday. Madson threw 13 pitches in the game, Contreras 11, Lidge ten and Romero three. Oswalt didn’t even pitch this game.

The Phillies lineup against righty Tim Lincecum went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Rollins (7) Ibanez (8) Ruiz. Utley drops to third with Polanco moved up to second. Ibanez back in the lineup after Francisco played left against the lefty in game four.

The Phillies bench had six offensive players to start the game, lefties Brian Schneider, Ross Gload, and Domonic Brown and righties Ben Francisco, Mike Sweeney and Wilson Valdez.

Victorino started the game grounded to first on a 2-1 pitch. Polanco got ahead 3-1 and flew to center for the second out. Utley grounded to second 1-1 to set the Phillies down.

Lincecum threw 12 pitches in the first inning.

The Phillies were down 1-0 when they hit in the second. Howard struck out swinging 2-2 for the first out. Werth was next and struck out looking at a 2-2 pitch on the outside corner for the second. Rollins grounded to Huff at first on an 0-1 pitch for the third.

Lincecum had thrown 22 pitches.

Ibanez led off the third and flared a 1-0 pitch into right center for a single. Ruiz got behind in the count, but Lincecum hit him on the arm with an 0-2 changeup. It put men on first and second for Halladay and Halladay bunted the first pitch from Lincecum near the plate. Posey picked the ball up next to the plate and threw to third. Sandoval wasn’t at the bag and Ibanez slid in safely, but Halladay hadn’t run to first because he thought the ball was foul (it was). Sandoval threw to first to force Halladay for the first out. Victorino was next and hit a ball hard to first. Huff got in front of it, but it went off his glove, then off his leg and bounced into shallow right center. Both runners scored on the error and Victorino took second with the Phils up 2-1. Lincecum’s first pitch to Polanco was way up and in and Polanco stared back out at him before singling into left on a 1-1 pitch, scoring Victorino to put the Phils up 3-1. Polanco was running on the 3-2 pitch to Utley and Utley singled into center, sending Polanco to third. Howard struck out swinging as Utley stole second. Werth came to the plate with men on second and third and flew to left on an 0-2 pitch to leave both men stranded.

No RBI for Howard with one out and a man on third. The Halladay bunt was clearly foul. Would have been nice to have run anyway. Victorino taking second on the error by Huff when the ball got away helped him score on the single by Polanco, but he would have scored on the single by Utley if he hadn’t.

Lincecum was up to 53 pitches.

Rollins struck out swinging 3-2 for the first out of the fourth. Ibanez broke his bat lining a 2-1 pitch to third for the second. Ruiz grounded to second 0-2 to set the Phils down.

Lincecum at 67 pitches after four innings.

It was 3-2 when Halladay led off the fifth. Halladay struck out swinging 1-2 for the first out. Victorino flew to right for the second. Polanco hit a 1-1 pitch hard, but Uribe made the play moving to his left and threw him out for the third out.

A nine-pitch inning had Lincecum at 76 for the game.

Utley grounded to first for the first out in the sixth. Howard was next and struck out swinging 2-2. Werth flew to center 0-2 for the third out.

Lincecum had set down 11 in a row and thrown 89 pitches for the game. Howard was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.

Rollins led off the seventh and hit a 1-0 pitch hard to second. Sanchez didn’t handle it and Rollins was given a single. He stole second as Ruiz took strike two and the count went 1-2. He stole third as the count went full on Ruiz. Lincecum’s 3-2 pitch to Ruiz was inside and the Phils had men on first and third. Gload hit for Halladay and smashed the first pitch he saw, but Huff caught the line drive and Ruiz was doubled off of first to end the frame.

Whacha gonna do? Gload hammered the ball. His second good at-bat in two days with nothing to show for it. This series is hard for me to watch as a fan — I can’t imagine what it must be like to wait eight hours to get your chance and hit into that. The Phils got lucky that Gload got to hit against Lincecum and the Giants got lucky that he hit it right at someone.

Righty Sergio Romo started the eighth for the Giants. Victorino led off and hit a 1-2 pitch to first. Romo fell down on the mound trying to cover first, so Huff took it to the bag himself. Romo was shaken up, but stayed in the game and walked Polanco on a 3-1 pitch that was inside. Lefty Javier Lopez came into the game and struck Utley out looking 2-2 for the second out. Howard flew to left of a 2-1 pitch for the third.

Manuel hits Utley third in the lineup with Polanco second and it allows the Giants to use Lopez against Utley and Howard without a right in-between. First non-strikeout of the game for Howard.

Righty Ramon Ramirez started the ninth for the Giants. Werth led off and hit a 2-1 pitch out down the right field line for a home run, putting the Phils up 4-2. Rollins flew to center for the first out and San Francisco left Ramirez in to face the lefty Ibanez. Ibanez singled to center, but Ruiz flew to center behind him for the second out. The righty Francisco hit for Madson and chopped the first pitch from Ramirez to third. Sandoval charged and fielded, but his throw to first pulled Huff off the bag for an error. It put men on first and second with two down and lefty Jeremy Affeldt came in to pitch to Victorino. Victorino struck out swinging 3-2 to leave both runners stranded.

Francisco against the righty is a strange choice. Manuel had the lefty Brown and could hit Sweeney for Brown if the Giants brought Affeldt in to pitch to Brown. He also let Ibanez play left in the ninth. I don’t understand the thinking on using Francisco against the righty.

Victorino was 0-for-5 in the game with an RBI. He hit the ball to Huff that Huff didn’t handle, which would have gotten the Phillies a run even if it had been fielded cleanly. He’s 3-for-20 in the series with a double and two walks.

Polanco was 1-for-3 with his second huge hit in two games and an RBI. 5-for-17 with two doubles and a walk in the series.

Utley continues to struggle both offensively and defensively in the series. He was 1-for-4 with a stolen base last night and is 3-for-19 with three walks in the series. He didn’t field a potential double-play ball cleanly early and threw a ball to first away that was backed up nicely by Ruiz. He did make a huge play to end the seventh.

Howard was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, the worst of which came in the third with a man on third and one out. 5-for-17 with three doubles, three walks and nine strikeouts.

Werth 1-for-4 with a home run. He also made a fantastic throw in the fourth inning to get Ross trying to go to third. 4-for-16 with a double, three walks and two home runs. The win means you get to see Jayson Werth play in a Phillies uniform at least one more time.

Rollins was 1-for-4 and stole two bases. 5-for-19 with a double and a walk in the set.

Ibanez was 2-for-4 in the game and is 2-for-15 with a walk in the series. He also lined to third in the fourth inning last night on a well-hit ball. We’ll see who plays left on Saturday against the lefty. I’m guessing Ibanez.

Ruiz was 0-for-2 with a walk. 3-for-15 with a home run and a walk in the series.

Oswalt and lefty Jonathan Sanchez tomorrow in game six. It will be a rematch of game two, which the Phillies won 6-1.

And if Madson can just steer clear of any other chairs with malicious intent, the back of the pen might be okay

Just as long as he doesn’t have a problem with pitching like three innings a game.

The biggest worry for many Phillies fans as we head into the NLCS seems to be that the offense either just won’t show up or won’t be able to handle the San Francisco pitching. I sure hope that doesn’t happen, but there seems to be a whole lot of evidence that the Philly offense can hit just about anyone. Instead of worrying about the areas where we know the Phils are better than the Giants, I wonder if we should take some time to worry about the areas where we know San Francisco is better than the Phillies.

By that, of course, I mean the bullpens.

There is no argument to be made that the Phililes had a better bullpen that the Giants this year. The Phillies relief corps was in the middle of the pack in the NL while San Francisco was perhaps a tick less dominant that the Padres, but still at least the second-best bullpen in the league. Phillies relievers threw to a 4.02 ERA (tenth-best in the NL) and a 1.39 ratio (tenth-best), the Giants bullpen had a 2.99 ERA (second-best) and a 1.31 ratio (sixth).

It’s not really very close. There was one area where the Phillies had an advantage, though, and might still in the series. Here’s the NL rank for runs allowed per batter faced in innings six through nine for each team (the numbers include results for all pitchers for each team, not just relievers):

Inning SF PHI
6 1 4
7 1 12
8 9 1
9 3 12

So, you shouldn’t be hoping to put up a whole lot of runs against the Giants in the sixth, seventh or ninth, but you also shouldn’t be looking to do much against the Phils in the eighth.

If you’re a Phillies fan, you’re almost surely guessing that we have Ryan Madson to thank for his dominance in the eighth inning. And you’re right. But Madson wasn’t the only reliever who shined for the Phils in that role. Contreras was also fantastic in the eighth inning and got a lot of chances there, thanks to the toe incident that sidelined Madson early in the season. Madson wound up facing 114 batters in the eighth inning for the season and Contreras 111. As good as Madson was, Contreras pitched just about as much as Madson did in the eighth and was nearly as effective. Here’s what the duo did in the eighth for the season:

Player IP
ERA Ratio K
Madson 29 2/3 1.52 0.81 32
Contreras 27 1/3 1.65 1.17 24

While it’s nifty that Contreras threw so well in the eighth over the course of the year, you have to wonder a little about how relevant that is going to be in the series. Contreras threw to a 5.63 ERA over his last eight appearances in the season. He had an 0.56 ERA in his first 18 appearances of 2010, but since June 1 he’s thrown 40 2/3 innings with a 4.43 ERA and a 1.40 ratio. If you see him pitching in the eighth in the NLCS it’s probably going to mean that Madson is hurt or the Phils are up or down by a lot of runs.

If there’s not a ton of reasons to have confidence in what Contreras might do at the back of the pen in the series, it sure seems like there is a lot of reason for confidence in Madson. Madson threw to a 1.04 ERA and an 0.89 ratio over his last 36 appearances to end the regular season, striking out 44 in 34 2/3 innings.

There’s more, though. The Phillies haven’t just been dominant in the eighth inning. The Giants have oddly also been ineffective, slipping into the bottom half in the NL in runs allowed per batter faced. They also floundered in the eighth inning in the NLDS against the Braves. Here are the numbers for their three relievers who have faced the most batters in the eighth inning, righties Sergio Romo and Guillermo Mota and lefty Jeremy Affedlt:

Player IP
ERA Ratio K
S Romo 30 2/3 1.47 0.72 34
G Mota 22 1/3 6.45 1.30 15
J Affeldt 19 2/3 4.12 1.63 19

There’s not a lot of mystery about who was helping and hurting the Giants in the eighth during the regular season — Romo was really good and Mota and Affeldt, especially Mota, were less good. Romo didn’t have a good NLDS, allowing hits to both men he faced in game two and allowing a run while getting two outs in game three. He ended the set with a 40.50 ERA and a 4.50 ratio for the post-season. The Giants let righty Santiago Casilla and lefty Javier Lopez handle the eighth with a one-run lead in game four. Casilla threw to a 1.95 ERA with the Giants and struck out 56 in 55 1/3 innings, but he pitched more in both the sixth and seventh innings than he did the eighth this season.

The ninth inning has been a different story, of course. Brian Wilson has been perhaps the best closer in the league after Billy Wagner, leading the NL with 48 saves while throwing to a 1.81 ERA and an 1.18 ratio for the season.

Here’s what the two guys that faced the most batters in the ninth for each team did in the inning:

Player IP
ERA Ratio K
B Wilson 54 2/3 1.81 1.10 69
J Affeldt 15 2/3 3.45 1.47 15
B Lidge 37 2/3 3.58 1.27 43
R Madson 18 1/3 4.42 1.31 25

No contest there between Wilson and Lidge. Neither Madson or Affeldt impressed with their chances in the ninth, but Wilson and Lidge are going to be the guys looking to convert save opportunities in the series. Opponents hit for about the same average against Wilson and Lidge, .207 against Lidge and .210 for Wilson, but Wilson threw 17 more innings in the ninth and allowed fewer homer runs (three for Wilson and five for Lidge) and walked fewer hitters (17 for Wilson and 19 for Lidge).

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