Tag: Sergio Escalona

Starter kit

So how many starts are Halladay, Oswalt, Lee and Hamels going to combine to make in 2011? A lot, we all hope, but over the past five seasons there have only been two years in which all four of those guys each made 30 starts, 2008 and 2009.

Halladay and Oswalt have made at least 30 starts in each of the five seasons.

Hamels has made as many starts (98) as Halladay over the past three years and more than Oswalt (Oswalt has made 94 starts over the past three seasons), but made under 30 starts in each of his first two years in the league (2006 and 2007). Since his age 24 season in 2008, Hamels had made at least 32 starts every year.

Lee has also made 30 starts in just three of the last five years. In 2007, he strained his groin during Spring Training and didn’t pitch till May. At the end of July he was sent to the minors with a 6.38 ERA for the season. When he returned to the Indians in September, he pitched out of the bullpen. Last year he made just 28 starts as an abdominal strain kept him from making his first start of the year until April 30.

Here’s the number of starts each of the four pitchers has made in the past five seasons:

2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 AVG
Halladay 33 32 33 31 32 32.2
Oswalt 32 30 32 32 32 31.6
Hamels 33 32 33 28 23 29.8
Lee 28 34 31 16 33 28.4
Group total 126 138 129 107 120 124

So, over the past five years, the group has made an average of 124 starts a season. 2007 was the year in which they made the fewest starts (107) and 2009 the year of the five in which they made the most (138).

Over the last three years, the group has averaged 131 starts.

All four members of the group have started at least 28 games in each of the past three seasons. Lee started 28 games in 2010 after missing part of the early season with his abdominal muscle. In 2009, Oswalt was struggling with problems with his lower back at the end of the season for an Astros team that wound up going 74-88 and finished 17 games out. After throwing to a 5.81 ERA over his last five starts, Oswalt didn’t make a start after September 15 and wound up with just 30 for the year. The last time that Oswalt made less than 30 starts in a season was 2003.

The Phillies traded Sergio Escalona to the Astros for 23-year-old second baseman Albert Cartwright. The lefty Escalona made 14 appearances for the Phillies in relief in 2009, throwing to a 4.61 ERA and a 1.24 ratio. He was designated for assignment on Saturday to make room for Romero on the 40-man roster. Cartwright saw his first action at Double-A in2010, hitting 229/289/271 over 154 plate appearances.

I-really-wish-it-were-so effect

Is Placido Polanco going to get more extra-base hits playing in Citizens Bank? Well, over the past three years the Phillies overall haven’t gotten that many more extra-base hits at Citizens Bank Park than they have hitting away from it. Here’s the percentage of plate appearances that Phillies hitters have gotten extra-base hits at home and away from home since the 2007 season:

  XBH PA % of PA
2009 Home 286 3096 9.2
2009 Away 285 3242 8.8
2008 Home 266 3091 8.6
2008 Away 275 3182 8.6
2007 Home 283 3159 9.0
2007 Away 297 3377 8.8

So in 2009, Phillies batters got extra-base hits in about 0.4% more of their plate appearances at home than on the road. In 2008 the rate of getting extra-base hits per plate appearance was actually a tiny bit better on the road and in 2007 it was about 0.2% better at home.

Let’s say that averages out to about 0.2% better overall. That’s one more extra-base hit every 500 plate appearances.

For his career, Polanco has 399 extra-base hits in 6,017 plate appearances (6.63%). He got 675 plate appearances last year — based on his career rate of getting extra-base hits we would have expected 45 extra-base hits. That’s exactly what he had, hitting 31 doubles, four triples and ten home runs. If he had gotten extra-base hits in 0.2 percent more of his plate appearances we would have expected him to have 46 extra-base hits instead of 45. That’s not really a huge difference.

The curious thing, though, is that Polanco has monster numbers at Citizens Bank park in a pretty large number of at-bats. In 381 plate appearances he has hit 334/386/485 with 12 home runs. He only has 90 home runs in his career, so 12 is a lot. He’s gotten 6.3% of his career plate appearances at Citizens Bank Park and he has hit 13.3% of his career homers.

For his career, he has extra-base hits in 7.3% of his PA at Citizens Bank Park — that would be 49 extra-base hits over 675 at-bats instead of 45.

Polanco hit a career-high 17 home runs playing for the Phillies in 2004 — ten of them at Citizens Bank Park and seven on the road. He has hit 40 home runs in five seasons and 2,991 plate appearances since.

So what’s it all mean? Well, we’ll see. My guess is that what you see is what you get with Polanco and we shouldn’t expect big things from the move to Citizens Bank Park. If you know a magic park that makes him walk more, though, now’s the time to speak up.

The Phils topped the Yankees 6-2 in spring training action yesterday. Blanton got the start and allowed two runs over five innings. Contreras followed with two scoreless frames and Escalona and Durbin each pitched a scoreless inning. After walking two in his inning, Escalona now has an 11.25 ERA and a 2.75 ratio in four spring training appearances. Werth provided the big blow of the game, a three-run homer in the fifth. Rollins and Howard each had two hits.

This says that Romero hopes to pitch in the series against the Nationals that starts April 12. It also says that Polanco may play tomorrow and Utley has not played since Monday with an upper respiratory infection.

Phils are off today. Happ will pitch in a minor league game.

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Sixth sense

A brief moment to reflect on how the Phillies could be sixth-best in the league overall in runs allowed if their starters were seventh best and their relievers were ninth best.

There were five teams in the NL last year that allowed fewer runs than the Phils. They were the Dodgers, Giants, Cardinals, Braves and Cubs.

By runs allowed per nine innings there were six teams whose starters were better than the Phils in ’09. They were the five above plus the Rockies.

By runs allowed per nine innings there were eight teams better relievers than the Phils. The five above plus the Reds, Brewers and Padres.

If every team plays a similar amount of innings, it’s tough to allow fewer runs overall if both your starters and relievers are worse than the Phils at preventing runs per nine innings. So I don’t think there’s a lot of confusion about how the teams that didn’t have better starters or relievers wound up allowing more runs overall than the Phils. Here’s how the total runs allowed for the four teams that had better starters or relievers than the Phils in ’09 looked for the season:


Runs allowed

  Starters Relievers Total
COL 469 246 715
CIN 509 214 723
MIL 568 250 818
SD 504 265 769
PHI 477 232 709

Despite the fact that they allowed more runs per nine innings, the Phillies relievers allowed fewer runs overall than Milwaukee or San Diego. The Brewers bullpen threw 52 more innings than the Phillies pen while the Padres threw 79 2/3 more.

The Phils scored two in the ninth to top the Yankees 3-2 yesterday. Timing, fellas. Halladay struck out three in two perfect innings and was followed by Kendrick , Contreras and Carpenter, who each threw two scoreless frames. Ozzie Chavez doubled in Juan Castro to put the Phils up 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh. Sergio Escalona got hit in the top of the ninth, yielding two runs on four hits as the Phils fell behind 2-1. Paul Hoover tied it up with an RBI double in the bottom of the ninth and Wilson Valdez’s infield single scored pinch-runner Dewayne Wise to give the Phils the win. Polanco made a throwing error at third and dropped a wind blown foul ball. Release the hounds.

Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer are expected to pitch this afternoon as the Phils face the Blue Jays.

Um, really?

Doing the right thing harder than expected for Phillies pitchers last season

In 2008, when they won the World Series, the Phillies were the third-best NL team at preventing runs. Only the Cubs and the Dodgers allowed fewer. In 2009, the Phillies were pretty good at preventing runs compared to the rest of the NL again, but dropped to sixth-best in the league.

Returning to the issue of left-handed pitchers, the drop off from the 2008 season to the 2009 season had a lot more to do with what Phillies did against right-handed batters than what they did against left-handed batters. Despite the fact that they got worse overall compared to the rest of the league in 2008, Phillies actually got better against left-handed hitting in 2009. They got a lot worse against right-handed hitting.

For each of the past four seasons, here’s what left and right-handed batters have done against Phillies pitching as well as the OPS rank for each (for the rankings, a ’1′ means the best pitching team in the league against that side batting by OPS and a ’16′ means the worst pitching team in the league against that side batting by OPS).

Vs left-handed batters

Vs right-handed batters
Year OPS
Rank Year OPS
2009 .735 4 2009 .769 12
2008 .772 9 2008 .717 5
2007 .825 16 2007 .780 12
2006 .814 11 2006 .788 14

With the exception of the drop against lefties from 2006 to 2007, everything had been trending very nicely for the Phillies pitching against batters from both sides until righties started to hammer the Phils in 2009.

With the question of who the lefties are going to be out of the bullpen, I think you have to wonder if the Phils are going to give some of that progress back in 2010. The bigger issue, though, seems to be if they’re going to be able to get righties out this year. Cause there are a lot of ‘em.

This suggests Romero may be ready to pitch in spring training games by the second week of March.

Pitchers and catchers reported yesterday. Today is the official beginning of spring training workouts.

Who’s left?

Details about when JC Romero will be able to contribute to the Phillies pen remain uncertain, so it seems likely that the Phillies opening day roster will include lefty Antonio Bastardo or his fellow lefty Sergio Escalona. Or both.

So it seems important to be able to tell them apart.

Neither of the two is especially young. Escalona will turn 26 in August and Bastardo will turn 25 in September.

Both made their major league debuts with the Phillies in 2009. Bastardo had some ugly numbers. He appeared in six games for the Phils, five of which were starts, and threw to a 6.46 ERA with a 1.48 ratio. He allowed four home runs in 23 2/3 innings. Bastardo also found himself onto the post-season roster for the Phillies and saw action in the both the NLDS and the NLCS. He faced two batters in the post-season. He struck out Jason Giambi to end the eighth inning of game two of the NLDS. In game one of the NLCS he pitched to Andre Ethier in a key spot. He started the seventh with the Phils up 5-4 to pitch to Andre Ethier. Ethier doubled and Bastardo was pulled. It took some nifty pitching from Chan Ho Park to get the Phillies out of the inning still on top. Bastardo didn’t get the ball again.

Escalona didn’t make any starts for the Phillies in 2009, but did pitch 14 times in relief. Over 13 2/3 innings he threw to a 4.61 ERA and a 1.24 ratio. He didn’t allow a home run and struck out 10.

Here’s what the two have done in the high minors:

  G GS IP ERA Ratio
AA 25 19 103 3.05 1.18
AAA 2 2 13 2.08 1.08
Combined 27 21 116 2.95 1.17
  G GS IP ERA Ratio
AA 47 0 65 1.94 1.32
AAA 15 1 19 2/3 5.95 1.48
Combined 62 1 84 2/3 2.87 1.36

First things first — the biggest difference between the two is that Bastardo spent most of his time in the high minors preparing to be a starter while Escalona pitched almost exclusively in relief. That was the way the Phillies used them initially in 2009 as well, but to start 2009 it looks like if either of them were on the roster they would be pitching out of the pen.

The second big thing you notice when looking at the numbers in the high minors is how much higher Escalona’s ratio has been than Bastardo.

Escalona has spent a lot more time in the low minor leagues. Here’s the percentage of minor league innings each has thrown at various levels:

Antonio Bastardo
Level % of minor
league IP
Rookie 10.1
A 33.7
A+ 13.5
AA 37.9
AAA 4.8
Above A 56.2
Total IP
above A
152 2/3

Sergio Escalona
Level % of minor
league IP
Summer League
A- 8.9
A 27.3
A+ 1.3
AA 21.2
AAA 6.4
Above A 28.9
Total IP
above A
88 2/3

Despite being a year older, Escalona has thrown a little more than half the innings that Bastardo has thrown above A-ball. Bastardo is a starter, of course, but even as a percentage of their minor league innings he’s still way above Escalona.

Across all levels, neither of them has allowed a lot of home runs. At all minor league levels combined, not just Double-A and Triple-A, Bastardo has allowed 21 home runs in 271 2/3 innings. That’s about 0.69 per nine innings. Escalona has been even better at keeping the ball in the park. He’s allowed just 16 home runs in 308 2/3 innings at all minor league levels combined, which is about 0.47 per nine innings.

Both have struck out more than a batter per inning in the minors. Bastardo has been a little more prolific with the strikeouts — he’s struck out 10.0 per nine innings in the minors compared to about 9.07 per nine for Escalona.

Both have been good at preventing hits. But while Escalona has been good, Bastardo has been outstanding in the minors. 8.6 hits per nine innings for Escalona and a meager 6.7 per nine for Bastardo.

They both have walked too many people in the minor leagues. Despite allowing less than a hit per inning, Escalona has a career ratio of 1.42 in the minors and that’s cause he walks too many batters. 4.1 batters per nine for his minor league career. He’s never had a single year at any level in which he has pitched to a combined ratio for the season of 1.20 or better. Bastardo’s walk rate in the minors has been high, too. He’s walked 3.9 batters per nine in the minors overall. That’s too many, but he really had his walks under control in 2009. Between the four minor league teams he pitched for in ’09, Bastardo walked just 12 hitters in 54 1/3 innings or about 2.0 per nine innings. That’s a big change from his minor league rate of 4.4 walks per nine innings in the minors going into the ’09 season.

For both players it looks like keeping their walks down is going to be a key to future success — despite the fact that Escalona had better results in limited action with the Phils in 2009, Bastardo is the only one of the pair that has shown he may be able to do that.

This says that Cole Hamels will try to add a slider or cut fastball to his pitches this spring training.

What if they threw a bullpen and nobody came?

It sure seems like the Phillies are going to need to find a bunch of fellas to pitch out of their bullpen in the next couple of months. Right now it looks like they have five (Madson, Durbin, Lidge, Baez and Romero). Of those five, two, Lidge and Romero, may not be ready for the start of the season.

There were 18 players who pitched in relief for the Phillies in 2009. The table below shows the percentage of the team’s innings they each threw in relief and the percentage of the batters the Phils faced in relief that were faced by that pitcher. For the pitchers that appeared solely as relievers (didn’t start any games), the aLI column shows the average leverage index for the pitcher while pitching in relief as calculated by Baseball Reference. The site talks a little about what that stat means here, but basically it reflects the fact that Brad Lidge pitched in much more important situations for the Phils last year than Sergio Escalona or Steven Register — one is average, above one is more important situations and closer to zero is less important situations. Here’s the list, which is ordered by the percentage of innings in relief that were thrown by the pitcher:


% IP

% batters faced


































































To the degree that there’s good news there, the Phillies will bring back the three guys they used most in relief in 2009 for the 2010 season. The bad news is that of those three, one, Lidge, was absolutely terrible last year and another, Durbin, was pretty bad.

The other thing that sure seems worrisome is that after Lidge there’s a group of five guys, Park, Condrey, Walker, Eyre and Taschner, who all seem sure or almost sure not to return for 2010. So far the Phillies have brought in Danys Baez to help fill in for those guys, but that’s not going to be enough.

Baez isn’t left-handed, either. Hopefully Romero is back and can be counted on early in the season, but it doesn’t seem like a sure thing. Lefties combined to throw 131 innings in relief for the Phillies in 2009. Here’s how those innings were divided up:

  % IP
Eyre 22.90
Taschner 22.39
Happ 16.54
Moyer 14.25
Romero 12.72
Escalona 10.43
Bastardo 0.76

Of that group, Eyre and Taschner look like locks not to return. Moyer and Happ will be back, but I’m not sure you want to count on either of those guys carrying a big load in relief in 2010. Let’s hope JC Romero can be the guy, but that’s another thing I don’t think you want to be counting on. Escalona looks likely to see an expanded role in 2010, but even if he does the Phillies are going to need more.

Right-handed relievers threw 361 innings for the Phils. Here’s how those innings broke down:

  % IP
Madson 21.42
Durbin 19.30
Lidge 16.25
Park 13.85
Condrey 11.63
Walker 9.79
Kendrick 4.16
Myers 1.94
Lopez 0.74
Register 0.55
Carpenter 0.37

Again, Madson, Lidge and Durbin are back, but it’s not clear who is going to make up for the 127 1/3 innings that Park, Condrey and Walker combined to throw in relief in 2009. They were really good, too, combining to throw to a 2.83 ERA and 1.18 ratio. Baez again is surely a big part of the answer — he did throw 71 2/3 innings last year, but didn’t pitch at all in 2008 and had a 6.44 ERA in 2007. I don’t know how much or how well he’s going to pitch in 2010, but I’m guessing against 127 1/3 innings with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.18 ratio. It would solve some problems, though.

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