Tag: Shane Victorino

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There are several different ways to calculate WAR, but no matter which language you choose, the non-pitchers for the Phillies were cause for concern in 2012.

The table below shows the WAR by position for the Phillies over the past five seasons as calculated by FanGraphs. Next to each WAR is the NL Rank for the team that year at the position.

Please note: WAR as calculated by FanGraphs differs, often dramatically, from WAR as calculated by Baseball-Reference. The WAR values in the table below are from FanGraphs, but the WAR values discussed below the table come primarily from Baseball-Reference. Links to recent interesting articles on the differences between WAR as calculated by the two sites are at the bottom of the post.

Position ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
C 7.1 (2) 2.6 (9) 5.3 (3) 3.3 (3) 2.2 (10)
SS 4.9 (2) 3.9 (4) 2.3 (10) 3.2 (6) 5.7 (4)
2B 3.7 (4) 3.4 (3) 6.7 (2) 7.5 (1) 8.2 (1)
CF 2.7 (10) 8.4 (2) 3.9 (12) 4.3 (8) 4.4 (7)
LF 2.8 (11) 1.2 (15) 2.4 (10) 4.6 (5) 2.8 (10)
3B 2.4 (11) 2.5 (10) 3.3 (7) 1.5 (11) 2.6 (11)
RF 1.2 (15) 2.2 (14) 6.2 (3) 5.9 (1) 5.7 (4)
1B -0.8 (16) 1.1 (13) 2.0 (10) 4.7 (5) 3.0 (7)

So there were three of the eight positions at which the Phillies were better than tenth in the 16-team National League.

Four seasons ago, in 2009, the Phillies were in the top half of the league at every position other than third base.

First the good:

At catcher, the Buster Posey-led Giants are the only team to put up a better overall WAR than the Phillies in 2012. The Phillies have been in the top three at the position in three of the last four years. In 2011, Ruiz recorded his worst dWAR of the five seasons (as calculated by Baseball-Reference) at 0.8. It was also his worst offensive season of the past three as he slugged just .383. In 2008, Ruiz was terrible offensively, hitting .219 in his 373 plate appearances as the Phils were tenth in the league at WAR at the position.

The Phils were also second in the league at FanGraphs-calculated WAR at short in 2012, topped only by the Nationals. There’s really only been one bad year for the team at the position over the last five seasons. In 2010, Rollins got less than 400 plate appearances for the only time in the last 12 seasons. Wilson Valdez fared okay trying to pick up the slack, but Juan Castro was a lot less impressive as he on-based .250 in his 101 plate appearances as a shortstop for the year. FanGraphs calculated WAR for Rollins for 2012 is much higher than Baseball-Reference’s. FanGraphs has him at 4.9, which ties him for 27th among non-pitchers across both leagues. Baseball-Reference calculates his WAR at 2.3, which ties him for 106th. The chart above reflects the FanGraph numbers, which suggest he was an elite player in 2012. Again, this is one of the three positions at which the Phillies were non-terrible in 2012 and there is disagreement about how good their primary player at the position actually was.

At second base, the Phillies have been in the top four for each of the past five years. Utley’s WAR as calculated by Baseball-Reference topped out at 8.8 in 2008. He’s likely never going back up there again, but his work at the position has been enough to keep the Phils in the top quarter of the NL over the last several years. Also, as a side note — in 2008, Utley and his 8.8 WAR (second-best in baseball) finished 14th in NL MVP voting. Howard’s WAR that year was 1.5 and he finished second. Pujols won it, and should have, but Utley should have been a lot higher than 14th.

After catcher, second and short, things get real ugly, real fast.

Center field was the next best position for the Phils in 2012 and they were tenth in the league there. Victorino was a monster in 2011, putting up a (Baseball-Reference) overall WAR of 5.2 in the best year of his career. He was way off that pace in 2012, though, and Mayberry was pretty bad after he left. The Phillies seem to have no in-house solution to what is now a big problem in center field.

Eleventh in left. Tenth or worse for the third straight year. 2009 is the only year of the last five that the Phillies have been non-terrible overall at the position. In ’09, Ibanez put up the best WAR (Baseball-Reference) of his last six seasons at 2.7. It was the only year of the last six where his dWAR has been better than -1 (it was -0.8). In 2010 he was bad for the Phillies and in 2011 he was terrible — a dWAR of -3.1 and an oWAR of just 0.1. Juan Pierre was the guy who got most of the time in left in 2012, the first year after Ibanez left. His overall WAR for the year was 1.9, good enough for fourth-best on the team among the non-pitchers, but not enough to lead the Phils anywhere better than eleventh.

They were also eleventh at third base, the fourth year of the last five in which they have been tenth or worse. Polanco was very solid in 2010, putting up a (Baseball-Reference) WAR of 3.1. In 2011, his dWAR stayed about the same as 2010 (1.2 in ’11, 1.4 in ’10), but his oWAR dropped from 1.9 to 0.7 as he hit 277/335/339 with just 19 extra-base hits in 523 plate appearances. Polanco got significant time at third in ’12, putting up an oWAR of 0, a dWAR of 0.4 and losing significant time to Kevin Frandsen. Frandsen’s WAR of 1.5 (in just 210 plate appearances) was good enough for fifth-best among the team’s non-pitchers, but not good enough to get the Phillies any higher than eleventh relative to the rest of the NL for the season at the position. Feliz got most of the time at third in ’08 and ’09, with some help from Greg Dobbs. Neither did a whole lot and the Phillies were eleventh at the position both years, although Feliz had a good year defensively in ’09, putting up a dWAR of 1.2. Feliz on-based .306 over 1,088 plate appearances for the Phils between 2008 and ’09.

You don’t have to study the right field numbers too carefully to see that the Phillies have struggled to replace Jayson Werth. Led by Werth, the Phils topped the NL in WAR at the position in 2009 and were third in 2010. He signed with the Nationals for the 2011 season and the numbers took a dive. Francisco got the gig to start ’11 and bombed in spectacular fashion, putting up an oWAR of 0.0 and a dWAR of -1.3 and losing the job. Hunter Pence played part of ’11 with the Phils and part of ’12. He posted negative dWARs in both years with better luck offensively. 2.2 (oWAR)/-0.3 (dWAR) in 2011 and 1.2/-1.1 in 2012. Domonic Brown hasn’t inspired a lot of confidence yet he can get the job done in right, either. So far for his career he has an UZR/150 of -21.7 in 871 innings in right to go with his overall batting line of 236/315/388.

First base may be the single biggest problem for the Phillies, where they have committed an enormous amount of money to Ryan Howard. They were 16th of 16 in the NL in 2012 and FanGraphs has them no better than tenth over the last three seasons. Howard was hurt in 2012, but he got 644 plate appearances in 2011 and 620 in 2010 and the Phils didn’t do better than tenth in either year. He has always been terrible at defense, over the last seven seasons his dWARs have ranged from -1 to -2.8, and thanks largely to that he has put an overall WAR better than three just twice in his career. In 2006 he hit 58 home runs with a WAR of 5.0. In 2009 he hit 45 with a WAR of 3.5. In 2012, his oWAR joined his dWAR in negative territory at -0.6. Wigginton was also miserable trying to pick up the slack at the position with Howard missing much of the season, hitting just 235/314/375 for the year with a UZR/150 at first of -8.5 (which is 30th among the 36 players across both leagues who played at least 450 innings at first in 2012).

This article talks about differences in the calculation of WAR by Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs. More on that subject here, as Jimmy Rollins appears on a list of the players whose WAR as calculated by FanGraphs differs dramatically from their WAR as calculated by Baseball-Reference.


Phils holding out hope WAR really is good for absolutely nothing

The Phillies had 25 non-pitchers who appeared for them in 2012.

The table below shows, for each of the 25, their plate appearances and WAR, oWAR and dWAR as calculated by Baseball-Reference and their wOBA and UZR/150 as calculated by FanGraphs (Baseball-Reference reminds that oWAR plus dWAR does not equal WAR).

PA WAR oWAR wOBA dWAR UZR/150
Carlos Ruiz 421 4.4 4 .398 1 C: no rating at 856 1/3 innings
Chase Utley 362 2.9 2 .347 1.1 2B: 11.4 in 720 1/3 innings
Jimmy Rollins 699 2.3 3.1 .328 0 SS: 4.9 in 1364 innings
Juan Pierre 439 1.9 1.6 .332 -0.1 LF: -0.4 in 799 2/3 innings
Kevin Frandsen 210 1.5 1.3 .358 0.3 3B: 0.3 in 442 2/3 innings
Erik Kratz 157 1.4 0.7 .337 0.9 C: no rating in 343 1/3 innings
Shane Victorino 431 1.3 1.5 .325 0 CF: 0.9 in 883 2/3 innings
Hunter Pence 440 0.7 1.2 .339 -1.1 RF: -13.5 in 901 2/3 innings
Freddy Galvis 200 0.6 -0.4 .266 1.1 2B: 11.3 in 416 innings
John Mayberry 479 0.5 0.2 .302 -0.1 CF: -20.7 in 474 1/3 innings; LF: 5.4 in 330 innings
Jim Thome 71 0.4 0.3 .362 0 1B: -.1 in 27 innings
Placido Polanco 328 0.3 0 .278 0.4 3B: 8.1 in 664 2/3 innings
Darin Ruf 37 0.3 0.3 .426 0 LF: -4.9 in 46 innings; 1B: 36.7 in 26 innings
Laynce Nix 127 0.1 0 .316 -0.2 1B: -17.7 in 72 1/3 inn; LF: 45.3 in 67; CF: -52.8 in 23; RF: 13.7 in 64
Mike Fontenot 105 0.1 0 .293 0.2 2B: .7 in 132 innings; 3B: 3.9 in 77 innings
Pete Orr 57 0.1 0.1 .336 0 3B: 52.7 in 14 innings; 2B: -17.6 in 70 1/3 innings
Jason Pridie 10 0.1 0.1 .418 0 CF: 39.0 in 9 innings
Brian Schneider 98 0 0.1 .282 0.1 C: No rating in 228 2/3 innings
Hector Luna 66 0 -0.1 .275 0.1 1B: 25.4 in 70 1/3 innings; 3B: -32.9 in 7 innings
Nate Schierholtz 73 -0.1 0 .305 -0.2 CF: -67.8 in 44 innings; RF: 17.3 in 122 1/3 innings
Steven Lerud 10 -0.1 -0.1 .176 0 C: No rating in 23 innings
Michael Martinez 122 -0.2 -0.8 .196 0.6 2B: -29.6 in 121; 3B: 22.7 in 70 1/3; SS: 37.0 in 51; OF: 100.1 in 51
Domonic Brown 212 -1 -0.4 .307 -0.9 RF: -8.9 in 308 LF: -5.8 in 141 2/3
innings
Ryan Howard 292 -1.2 -0.6 .301 -1 1B: -15.6 in 589 2/3 innings
Ty Wigginton 360 -1.7 -0.5 .301 -1.7 1B: -8.5 in 471 1/3 innings; 3B: -39.3 in 175 2/3; LF: -46.8 in 48 innings

By WAR, Erik Kratz was the sixth-best non-pitcher on the team for the Phillies in 2012. That there is a problem, cause he’s a 32-year-old backup catcher who got 157 plate appearances for the year.

The Phillies had three hitters with a WAR for the year of 2.0 or better. In 2011 they had five (Victorino 5.2, Utley 3.7, Ruiz 2.6, Rollins 2.4 and Pence 2.2). Pence’s 2.2 came despite getting just 236 plate appearances with the team.

Finally, the -1.2 WAR for Howard is a little problematic. Over the last three seasons, the Phillies have paid Howard about $59 million to put up WARs of 1.1 (’10), 0.9 (’11) and -1.2 (’12). He has hit 256/339/483 in 1,556 plate appearances over those three seasons.

I guess we can always hold out hope that WAR is hugely flawed and doesn’t mean anything. Fingers crossed.


A new day is Lindbloming

The Phillies have traded Shane Victorino to the Dodgers for right-handed pitchers Josh Lindblom and Ethan Martin.

Victorino was taken by the Phillies in the 2005 Rule V draft from the Dodgers. He was offered back to the Dodgers and LA declined, so the Phils sent him to the minors. He made 19 plate appearances with the Phils in ’05 before playing regularly in 2006. From ’06 to ’12, Victorino got 3,958 plate appearances with the Phils in which he put up a 279/345/438 line, stealing 179 bases while getting caught just 39 times.

Victorino saw significant time at both corner outfield positions in ’06 and more than 900 innings in right in ’07 while Aaron Rowand roamed center for the Phils. Victorino took over as the primary guy in center field in 2008 and has played there through to this point in the 2012 season.

He won three Gold Gloves with the Phillies (’08, ’09 and ’10), was twice an All-Star (’09 and ’11) and twice finished in the top twenty in NL-MVP voting (’09 and ’11). In 2009 and 2011, he led the NL in triples. In 2011, he played to a fielding percentage of 1.000 in 1,150 2/3 innings in center field for the Phils.

His best year with the bat was 2011, when he posted a 279/355/491 line. His 2010 and 2012 seasons were marred by problems hitting against right-handed pitching. In 2010, coming off of a year when he hit 283/347/440 against righties, he posted a 235/306/386 line against them. So far in 2012 he has hit 242/299/346 against righties.

On October 2, 2008, Victorino hit a grand slam off of CC Sabathia in game two of the NLDS against the Brewers. He was 3-for-4 with two doubles and a grand slam in that game.

In game three of the ’08 NLCS against the Dodgers, Victorino gave Hiroki Kuroda the don’t-throw-the-ball-at-my-head gesture after Kuroda threw the ball at his head, which led led to an on-field incident after Victorino grounded out.

The next day, the Phils found themselves down 5-3 headed into the eighth inning. Victorino hit a two-run homer off of Cory Wade and three batters later Matt Stairs hit a memorable bomb off of Jonathan Broxton to put the Phils on top to stay.

In game five of the ’08 World Series, Victorino’s two-run single off of Scott Kazmir in the bottom of the first gave the Phils an early 2-0 lead.

He was fantastic in the first two rounds of the 2009 playoffs, going 13-for-36 (.361) in the NLDS and the NLCS combined before hitting .182 in the World Series against the Yankees. Mariano Rivera got him on a ground ball to second to end the final game of that series as the Yankees won game six 7-3.

Victorino struggled offensively in the post-season in 2010, hitting just .216 overall. He did make a fantastic defensive play in game three against the Reds, though, taking an RBI-double away from Brandon Phillips in the first inning of a game the Phils would win 2-0.

He hit .316 in the NLDS against the Cards in 2011, going 2-for-3 in game five with a double, which was the only extra-base hit of the game for the Phils.

Martin turned 23 in June. The Dodgers took him out of high school in the first round of the 2008 draft with the 15th pick (one pick ahead of Brett Lawrie and four ahead of Andrew Cashner). He was awful in 2009 and 2010, throwing to a 6.17 ERA over 208 2/3 innings between two levels. He’s been much better so far in 2012, making 20 starts in the Double-A Southern League in which he’s gone 8-6 with a 3.58 ERA and a 1.27 ratio and striking out 112 in 118 innings.

Lindblom has been with the Dodgers all year, making 48 appearances for LA in which he has thrown to a 3.02 ERA with a 1.26 ratio and striking out 43 in 47 2/3 innings. He’s allowed nine home runs in 47 2/3 innings, which is too many. He has walked too many left-handed hitters this year — they are hitting .253 against him but on-basing .352. Much better results in LA than away from it for the year. He’s thrown to a 1.05 ERA in 26 appearances at home this year and 5.32 in his 22 appearances away from home. He turned 25 in June.

This says Domonic Brown is on his way to join the Phils and that a Pence deal is in the works.

Jon Heyman says Pence is on his way to San Francisco.

So does USA Today. Nobody seems to know what the Phils are getting yet, but a lot of people suggest it will include catcher Tommy Joseph.

There must be more, right? Right?

Joseph just turned 21 and has a 256/307/427 line in the minors. He hit 22 homers in 560 plate appearances last year in the Class A Advanced California League and 16 in 473 plate appearances in 2010 in the Class A South Atlantic League as an 18-year-old.

38 is a lot of homers to hit before the end of your 19-year-old season. .307 still isn’t a whole lot to on-base.

Jon Heyman says the Pence deal is 3-for-1 with the Phillies getting Nate Schierholtz, Joseph and maybe a pitcher. Getting better.

Todd Zolecki says the Phils would get Single-A right-handed reliever Seth Rosin in the Giants deal.

Jayson Stark says Cliff Lee won’t be dealt.

The Pence deal is done. The Phillies send Pence and cash to the Giants for Joseph, Schierholtz and Rosin. Let’s hope for the best, but I like the Victorino deal a whole lot better than that one.

Domonic Brown was recalled.


Eight is only usually enough

The Phils rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth last night to beat the Brewers 7-6. For the Phillies it was their first win this season in a game they trailed after eight innings.

Halladay made his second start since coming off the DL and struggled, allowing six runs in the first four innings. The Phils trailed 6-2 going into the bottom of the seventh. They scratched out a run on a passed ball in the seventh to get within three. In the bottom of the ninth, they feasted on Francisco Rodriguez, scoring four times on three hits and three walks.

The Phillies walked nine times in the game.

For the second straight game, the Phillies got outstanding work from their bullpen and won late by a single run. Joe Savery got career win number one last night as Savery, Schwimer and Diekman combined to toss three shutout frames. Over the last two games, the bullpen has thrown seven innings without being charged with a run.

The Phillies are 43-54 on the year after beating the Milwaukee Brewers 7-6 last night. The Phils remain in last place in the NL East, 14 games behind the Nationals.

Halladay got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing six runs on eight hits and a walk. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. He struck out three.

In two starts since his return, Halladay has allowed eight runs in 11 innings. Opponents have hit .302 against him. In his last four starts overall he has an 8.05 ERA.

Norichika Aoki was the first batter of the game and grounded to Utley for the first out. Halladay hit Carlos Gomez with a pitch and Gomez stole second before Ryan Braun grounded to short for the second out. Aramis Ramirez was next, though, and he doubled to right, scoring Gomez to put the Brewers up 1-0. Corey Hart followed and lined a single into left. Ramirez scored. 2-0. Halladay struck Rickie Weeks out swinging to leave Hart at first.

It was 2-2 when Halladay started the second. George Kottarras led off and Halladay walked him. Cesar Izturis was next and hit a ground ball to first. Howard fielded and threw to second where Kottarras was forced for the first out. The pitcher Randy Wolf bunted Izturis to second with the second out, but Halladay struck Aoki out to leave Izturis at second.

Gomez led off the second with a single and stole second. Braun was next and singled into right on a ball deflected by Howard, scoring Gomez to make it 3-2. Halladay got the next two with Braun moving up to second when Hart went down on a ball Halladay handled himself for the second out. Braun stole third before Halladay struck out Weeks to leave him stranded.

Wolf and Aoki singled back-to-back with two outs in the fourth, bringing Gomez to the plate with two outs and men on first and second. Gomez hit Halladay’s first pitch down the left field line and off the foul pole for a three-run homer. 6-2. Braun grounded to short for the third out.

Brewers get three in the frame despite having nobody on base, no runs and the pitcher coming up.

Ramirez singled to right to start the fifth. Halladay got the next two before picking Ramirez off of first with Howard throwing to Rollins to apply the tag.

Second time in the game that a Howard throw ends with an assist rather than E3 and people chasing the ball around in left field. Maybe it’s the dawn of a new era.

Halladay set Milwaukee down in order in the sixth.

Schwimer started the seventh. He walked Gomez with one out, but Ruiz threw Gomez out trying to steal second for the second out. Schwimer struck Braun out swinging 1-2 to set the Brewers down.

Schwimer has been charged with a run in just one of his last 12 appearances. He has a 2.35 ERA with a 1.24 ratio in 15 1/3 innings over his last 16 appearances.

Diekman started the eighth with the Phils down 6-3. He walked Weeks with two outs and the righty Martin Maldonado hit for the lefty Kottarras. Maldonado struck out looking to leave Weeks at first.

Diekman has a 7.94 ERA in July and has been charged with at least one run in three of his last five outings. For the year he has walked 15 in 20 2/3 innings.

Savery pitched the ninth and set Milwaukee down in order. Righty Cody Ransom hit for the pitcher John Axford and struck out for the second out.

First career win for Savery. He was pitching for the first time since being called up on July 13. Golly. That’s kind of a long time. He didn’t exactly make a good impression with the Phils in his previous stint, allowing nine earned runs in 5 1/3 innings over his final three outings.

Three scoreless innings for the pen in which they allow two walks but no hits.

Diekman threw 21 pitches, Schwimer 16 and Savery 14.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Randy Wolf went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Ruiz (6) Pence (7) Wigginton (8) Mayberry. Utley and Howard both play against the lefty. Polanco on the bench with Wigginton at third and Mayberry at first.

The Phillies were down 2-0 when they hit in the bottom of the first. Rollins fouled out to first for the first out and Victorino struck out for the second, but Utley was next and he hit a 1-1 pitch out to right center, cutting the lead to 2-1. Howard was next and hit a 1-0 pitch the opposite way for what was reviewed and eventually ruled another home run. 2-2. Ruiz walked before Pence struck out swinging to leave him at first.

Victorino struck out swinging 3-2. He tried to hold his swing 3-2 and it looked like the ball hit him, but he was called out on strikes for the second out. He left the game and Pierre came in to play left in the top of the second. Mayberry moved over to center.

Mayberry singled to right with one out and Halladay bunted him to second with the second out. Rollins lined to short to leave Mayberry at second.

Howard doubled to center with two outs in the third and the Phils down 3-2. Ruiz walked behind him to put two men on for Pence, but Pence grounded to short for the third out.

Howard 2-for-2 against the lefty with a double and a homer. The righty Pence still awful against lefties for the year — 0-for-2 with three men left on base through three innings.

The Phils were down 6-2 when they hit in the fourth. Mayberry doubled with one out, but Halladay struck out looking and Rollins flew to right to leave him stranded.

Utley walked with one out in the fifth. Howard flew to left for the second out and Ruiz flew to center to leave Utley at first.

The Phillies went in order in the sixth.

Rollins and Pierre were walked back-to-back by lefty Manny Parra with one out in the seventh. They pulled off a double-steal before a walk to Utley loaded the bases. With Howard at the plate, a passed ball allowed Rollins to score, cutting the lead to 6-3 with men on second and third. Howard struck out looking for the second out. Righty John Axford came in to pitch to Ruiz and struck him out to end the inning.

One run for the Phils after loading the bases with one out. Howard strikes out looking for the second out with men on second and third.

Axford set Pence, Wigginton and Mayberry down in order in the eighth.

Righty Francisco Rodriguez started the ninth for Milwaukee. Nix hit for Savery and struck out for the first out. Rollins followed with a walk and moved to third when Pierre singled to right. Pierre stole second before Utley walked, loading the bases for Howard. Howard took two quick strikes on breaking balls, putting him behind in the count 0-2. For reasons unknown, Rodriguez threw a fastball over the plate and Howard singled into center, scoring Rollins and Pierre and cutting the lead to 6-5 with men on first and third. Ruiz lined a 1-1 pitch into left. Utley scored (6-6) and Howard moved up to second. Pence walked, loading the bases. Kratz ran for Howard at third. Wigginton took ball one then lined the 1-0 pitch to left. Braun took it moving to his right. He didn’t have much time to set his feet and his throw home was up the third base line. Kratz slid in safe to give the Phils a 7-6 win.

They sure stuck with Rodriguez a long time. He allowed three hits and three walks in the frame.

The 0-2 pitch to Howard was a surprise. Not running for Howard when he was the winning run on second and then running for him when he moved up to third didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time. I thought Braun made a pretty good throw given the circumstances. Kratz would have been out if his thrown was on line. Howard might have been out on the throw Braun did get had he been trying to score on the play. Worked out well for the Phils.

Rollins was 0-for-3 and walked twice. He’s hitting .211 over his last 108 plate appearances.

Victorino 0-for-1 with a strikeout. He says he hopes to be able to play today.

Utley 1-for-2 with three walks and a homer. 8-for-his-last-30 with six walks, a triple and two home runs (267/405/533).

Howard 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and three RBI. 5-for-his-last-16 with three home runs.

Ruiz 1-for-3 with two walks and an RBI.

Pence 0-for-4 with a walk. 8-for-his-last-54 (.148) with seven singles and a home run. 233/303/433 against lefties for the season.

Wigginton was 0-for-4 and won the game with his RBI sac fly in the ninth. 0-for-his-last-15. 159/222/280 over his last 90 plate appearances.

Mayberry 2-for-4 with a double. 4-for-his-last-8 with three extra-base hits. Continues to do everything except walk against left-handed pitching — 284/288/569 for the year against lefties. He has not drawn a walk this season in 104 plate appearances against lefties.

Lee (1-6, 3.72) faces righty Zack Greinke (9-3, 3.57) tonight. Lee has a 2.05 ERA in his three starts in July. The Phillies are 1-7 in his last eight starts and 4-12 in his appearances for the year. Greinke has a 9.00 ERA and a 1.86 ratio over his last four starts. He recently started three straight Brewers’s games in a row — the first he was ejected after four pitches, the next day he threw three innings before the All-Star break and then he started the first game after the break.


Mighty Joe won

You shouldn’t count on winning when you score three runs, especially when you have just about the worst bullpen in the National League, but the Phillies figured out how to get it done last night and beat the Dodgers 3-2 behind a strong effort from Joe Blanton.

Home runs from Rollins and Howard helped the Phils to an early 3-0 lead. Blanton mowed LA down through the first five innings before the Dodgers got a run in the sixth and another in the seventh. Blanton came back to throw a 1-2-3 eighth and Papelbon kept LA off the board in the ninth.

Third straight win for the Phillies. They have now gotten a quality start in five straight games and the starters have thrown to a 2.60 ERA in those games. Prior to this stretch they had not gotten more than two quality starts in a row since May 18.

The game featured the first home run of the year for Ryan Howard, who’s still just 3-for-20 on the season. Shane Victorino, miserable at the plate this year, delivered with the bat for the third straight day, going 3-for-4 with another triple. He’s 6-for-12 over the last three games and he and Rollins are providing suddenly providing a spark at the top of the lineup for a Phillies team desperate for wins.

The Phillies are 40-51 on the year after beating the LA Dodgers 3-2 last night. They have won three in a row and remain in last place in the NL East, 13 games behind the first place Nationals.

Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went eight innings, allowing two runs on six hits, five singles and a double. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven. Three of his last four starts have been pretty good.

He threw a 1-2-3 first.

Up 1-0, he set the Dodgers down in order in the second.

The Phillies were up 2-0 when he started the third. Blanton got Luis Cruz on a ground ball to short for the first out before AJ Ellis singled to left on a ball deflected by Rollins. The pitcher Nathan Eovaldi was next and tried to bunt, but struck out looking at a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Jerry Hairston lined to first to end the inning.

The Phils led 3-0 when Blanton started the fourth. Mark Ellis led off and singled into center. Matt Kemp flew to center for the first out before Andre Ethier moved Ellis up to third with a single to right. Juan Rivera was next and he hit a ground ball to third. Polanco fielded and threw home where Ruiz tagged out Ellis for the second out. With men on first and second and two down, Blanton struck James Loney out looking 2-2 to end the inning.

Blanton keeps LA off the board after they put runners on the corners with one out. Strikes out the lefty Loney with two men on to end the inning.

Blanton set the Dodgers down in order. Righty Juan Uribe hit for the pitcher Eovaldi and flew to center for the third out.

Hairston doubled to center to start the sixth. Ellis was next and hit a ball to Utley. Utley fielded and threw to first, but Howard didn’t handle the throw for an error that left LA with runners on first and third and nobody out. Kemp was next and he grounded into a double-play. Hairston scored from third to cut the lead to 3-1. Blanton got Ethier on a fly ball to right to set LA down.

Very strange error on Howard. The ball was chopped in-between first and second. Utley moved right to get the ball and threw to first in the air, but Howard just didn’t catch it. The ball seemed to hang between his glove and wrist for a split second and fell to the ground.

Rivera and Loney singled back-to-back to start the seventh, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. Cruz hit a ball handled by Blanton and Blanton threw to second to force Loney for the first out. With runners on first and third, Blanton struck Ellis out swinging 1-2 for the second out. Lefty Bobby Abreu hit for the pitcher Tolleson and Blanton’s first pitch to Abreu was in the first and through Ruiz’s legs. Rivera scored from third, cutting the lead to 3-2, and Cruz took second. Blanton flew to center to leave Cruz at second.

Second defensive misplay for the Phils in two innings. Howard doesn’t catch the throw from Utley in the sixth and the ball goes through Ruiz with a runner on third. Both runs were earned, but Blanton did a nice job working around both of the miscues.

Blanton threw a 1-2-3 eighth with a one-run lead.

He threw 110 pitches in the game, including 15 in the bottom of the eighth. The bottom of the eighth ended with Blanton striking Kemp out swinging 1-2. If you see Blanton facing Matt Kemp in a one-run game in the eighth inning when he’s already thrown 105 pitches in the game it’s probably a good sign there’s not a whole lot of faith in the bullpen.

Papelbon started the ninth. Rivera singled with one out and Tony Gwynn ran for him at first. Loney grounded to second for the second out with Gwynn moving up to second. The lefty Adam Kennedy hit for the righty Cruz and Gwynn stole third. Kennedy got ahead in the count, but popped a 2-0 pitch up to Utley to end the game.

Third appearance in a row for Papelbon in which he has not been charged with a run coming off a string where he allowed runs in four of five outings. He was also coming off of an outing on Saturday where he went 1 2/3 innings. He threw 18 pitches last night.

The Phillies lineup against righty Nathan Eovaldi went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Ruiz (6) Pence (7) Pierre (8) Polanco. Pierre hits seventh against the righty with Victorino hitting second despite miserable numbers against righties. Polanco at third against the righty with the lefty Fontenot on the bench.

Victorino reached on an error by the shortstop Cruz with one out in the top of the first, but Utley hit into a double-play behind him.

Ruiz doubled to left with one out in the second. Pence struck out for the second out before Pierre singled to right center, scoring Ruiz to put the Phils up 1-0. Polanco grounded to short for the third out.

With one out in the second, Rollins hit a 3-2 pitch out to right. 2-0. Victorino followed with a single and moved up to second when Utley grounded out for the second out. Eovaldi delivered a 2-2 pitch to Howard, which was taken for ball three, but Ellis threw to second where Victorino was way off base between second and third and tagged out to set the Phillies down.

Howard hit the first pitch of the fourth inning out to left, putting the Phils up 3-0. Ruiz and Pence walked back-to-back, putting two men on for Pierre. Pierre flew to Ethier at the wall in right and Polanco hit into a double-play behind him.

Good demo of why you don’t want to get picked off of second base with Howard at the plate. Phils didn’t have a lot of runs to give away in this one.

Victorino tripled to left with two outs in the fifth, but Utley lined out to first behind him.

Third triple for Victorino in three games. He will lead the league in triples if he continues at this pace. Tied for sixth right now. Dexter Fowler leads the NL with nine.

Righty Shawn Tolleson set the Phillies down in order in the sixth. The lead was cut to 3-1 when Tolleson set the Phils down in order in the seventh.

It was 3-2 when lefty Scott Elbert walked Rollins to start the eighth. Victorino moved Rollins up to second with a single. Utley popped to short for the first out and Howard hit into a double-play behind him.

Nothing for the Phils after putting men on first and second with nobody out.

Righty Ronald Belisario struck out Ruiz, Pence and Mayberry in order in the ninth.

Mayberry is hitting 205/265/270 in 132 plate appearances against righties for the year.

Rollins was 1-for-3 with a walk and a home run. 10-for-his-last-30 with four walks and six extra-base hits. 304/357/585 over his last 185 plate appearances, which started on May 29. Coming into the game on May 29, he was hitting 230/286/286 on the year over his first 215 plate appearances.

Victorino 3-for-4 with a triple. 6-for-12 with a walk, a double and three triples over the last three games.

Utley was 0-for-4 and left five men on base. He’s 6-for-his-last-33 (.182) with no walks.

Howard 1-for-4 with a home run and an error. 3-for-20 on the year.

Ruiz 1-for-3 with a walk and a double. 8-for-his-last-19 with three doubles and a home run. He’s on-basing .413 for the year, but his walk rate is way down. Coming into the season he had walked in about 11.1% of his plate appearances for his career. This season he has walked in about 5.6% of them. If he’s going to keep slugging .600 (okay, .596) I think it’s a fine plan.

Pence was 0-for-3 with a walk and struck out three times. He’s 1-for-his-last-18 with nine strikeouts.

Pierre 1-for-3 with an RBI. He also hit a ball to the wall in right in the fourth. He’s 4-for-his-last-6.

Polanco 0-for-3 and left three men on base. He’s 3-for-his-last-32 (.094) with a walk and three singles.

Halladay (4-5, 3.98) returns tonight against a Dodger pitcher TBD. Halladay threw to a 1.95 ERA over his five April starts, then went 1-3 with a 6.11 ERA in May as opponents hit .312 against him. Righty John Ely (NR) is a popular guess for the LA pitcher. Ely made five appearances for the Dodgers in 2011, including one start. 8-6 with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.18 ratio in the PCL in 18 starts in 2012.


Second impressions

The Phillies started the second half nicely in Colorado this weekend, taking two of three from the Rockies.

The Rockies won the opener 6-2 on Friday. The teams went into the bottom of the sixth tied at 1-1, but Colorado scored five runs charged to Lee and Schwimer in the sixth and seventh innings and rolled to a win. The bullpen nearly gave away game two of the set. The Phils led 6-2 going into the bottom of the eighth, but Brian Sanches coughed up a three-run homer and Manuel had to call on Papelbon to get the last five outs. Two runs in the top of the ninth extended the Phillies lead and they won 8-5.

Yesterday the Phillies won 5-1 behind strong pitching from Cole Hamels and a three-run homer from Hunter Pence.

The bullpen is still terrible and if Utley (on-basing .289 so far) and Howard (0-for-8 in the series) are going to pull the Phils out of their long, long funk it hasn’t happened so far. There were signs of life from Shane Victorino the set, though. After going 0-for-4 in the first two games of the series, Victorino was 3-for-8 with a walk, a double and two triples as the Phils took the last two. He had three extra-base hits in his last 121 plate appearances going into get two of the set.

The Phillies are 39-51 on the year after beating the Colorado Rockies 5-1 yesterday afternoon. The Phils take the series two games to one. They’re in fifth place in the NL East, 14 games behind the first-place Nationals.

Remember this? The Phils went into the second half needing to play to a .707 winning percentage the rest of the way if they were going to get to 90 wins for the year. Taking two out of three against the Rockies is nice, but it actually ups that needed winning percentage to .708 the rest of the way. The needed winning percentage in remaining games to hit various win marks is now tracked in the Start Log at the bottom of the blue band.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went eight innings, allowing a run on six hits and a walk. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a triple. He struck out seven and dropped his ERA on the year to 3.07. The Phillies have won just one of the last four games he has started, but he’s thrown to a 2.48 ERA with a 1.07 ratio over those four outings.

He started the bottom of the first with a 1-0 lead. Dexter Fowler led off with a single to left. Marco Scutaro was next and bunted. Hamels fielded, but his throw to first sailed over Wigginton’s head. Scutaro was safe and Fowler moved up to second, putting men on first and second for Carlos Gonzalez. Hamels struck Gonzalez out swinging for the first out. Ramon Hernandez was next and Hamels struck him out swinging at a 2-2 pitch in the dirt. Michael Cuddyer grounded to short to leave both runners stranded.

Nice job by Fontenot backing up Hamels’s throw to first and holing everyone to a single base. Hamels does well to pitch around his error after the first two batters of the inning reach base.

Tyler Colvin singled to start the second, but Hamels got the next three Rockies in order behind him.

Fowler led off the bottom of the third and singled to right. Hamels picked him off of first with Wigginton throwing to Rollins for the first out. Hamels got Scutaro and Gonzalez behind Fowler.

Up 2-0, Hamels threw a 1-2-3 fourth. Mayberry made a nice diving catch on a ball hit by Cuddyer for the second out.

Chris Nelson reached on an infield single to start the fifth with the Phils up 5-0, but Hamels got Josh Rutledge to ground into a double-play behind him. Switch-hitter Jonathan Herrera hit for the pitcher Drew Pomeranz, but Hamels got him on a ground ball to second to end the inning.

Hamels walked Scutaro with one out in the sixth and Gonzalez followed with a triple to center that scored Scutaro and cut the lead to 5-1. Hamels struck Hernandez out for the second out and got Cuddyer on a ground ball to second for the third.

Big strikeout for Hamels, getting Hernandez for the second out with Gonzalez on third helps keep the Rockies from getting more.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 seventh.

Switch-hitter Eric Young hit for the pitcher Mike Ekstrom and singled to center to start the eighth. Hamels got the next three to turn Colorado away.

Bastardo got two ground balls and a strikeout in a 1-2-3 ninth.

Nice start to the second half for Bastardo. He came into the game having thrown to a 9.00 ERA in his 14 appearances since the end of June. He threw seven pitches in the game.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Drew Pomeranz went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Pence (4) Ruiz (5) Wigginton (6) Polanco (7) Mayberry (8) Fontenot. Utley and Howard both on the bench against the lefty after they both played the first two games of the series. Mayberry in left, Wigginton at first and Fontenot at second. Victorino continues to hit second with Polanco sixth against the lefty. Fontenot starts against the lefty with Utley resting.

Victorino tripled with one out in the top of the first. Pence struck out behind him for the second out, but Ruiz picked Pence up with a single into left that scored Victorino and put the Phils up 1-0. Wigginton drew a walk before Polanco grounded to short to leave both runners stranded.

The Phils went in order in the second and again in the third.

Ruiz led off the fourth with a double and moved up to third on a ground out by Wigginton. Polanco flew to right for the second out. Ruiz tagged and scored, putting the Phils up 2-0. Mayberry grounded to third for the third out.

Fontenot and Hamels both struck out to start the fifth before Rollins singled to left. An error on a pickoff throw by Pomeranz allowed Rollins to take second and Victorino walked to put two on for Pence. Pence hit a 2-1 pitch out to left for a three-run homer, putting the Phils up 5-0. Ruiz flew to center to set the Phillies down.

Huge swing off of Pence against a lefty. He came into the game hitting 247/326/442 against them for the year with just three home runs.

Righty Carlos Torres set the Phils down in order in the sixth.

Fontenot walked to start the seventh with the lead cut to 5-1. Hamels bunted him to second with the first out before Rollins walked. Victorino grounded to second for the second out and Pence flew to right for the third.

Righty Mike Ekstrom set the Phils down in order in the eighth.

Righty Rafael Betancourt started the ninth. Fontenot walked with one out. Howard hit for Hamels and grounded into a double-play to set the Phillies down.

Rollins was 1-for-3 in the game and 5-for-12 with a walk, two doubles and a triple in the series. He’s hitting 261/315/414 for the year.

Victorino 1-for-3 with a walk and a triple yesterday. 3-for-12 with a walk, a double and two triples in the series. 3-for-8 with a walk and three extra-base hits in the last two games after going 0-for-4 in the opener. 245/311/379 on the year. Rollins and Victorino hit one-two at the top of the order — Rollins leads that duo with a .315 on-base percentage for the season.

Pence 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, which was his only hit of the series. He was 1-for-12, dropping his line on the year to 278/344/477.

Ruiz was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. 5-for-12 with two doubles and a home run in the series. 353/412/595 for the year. He has five home runs in his last 59 plate appearances.

Wigginton 0-for-3 with a walk in his only action of the set. 181/253/319 over his last 79 plate appearances. 244/317/393 on the season.

Polanco 0-for-3 with an RBI. 1-for-7 in the series. 3-for-his-last-29 with a walk and three singles. 263/306/337.

Mayberry 0-for-4 with a strikeout. 2-for-7 with two strikeouts in the set. 234/270/374 for the year. He’s terrible against righties (207/267/273 for the year) but hitting .269 against lefties with a .505 slugging percentage. On-basing .274 against left-handed pitching with zero walks in 95 plate appearances. That’s zero with a z.

Fontenot was 1-for-3 with a walk. 1-for-6 with two walks in the series. 315/365/371 for the year. Should be starting close to every game against a righty given the combination of Polanco being Polanco and Utley needing extra rest.

Utley was 3-for-8 with three RBI in the series and his hitting 262/289/405 over 45 plate appearances for the year. Howard was 0-for-1 yesterday and 0-for-8 with two walks in the set. He’s 2-for-16 so far.

Blanton (7-8, 4.98) faces righty Nathan Eovaldi (1-5, 4.21) tonight in LA. Blanton has a 6.12 ERA over his last nine starts. Eovaldi had a 2.35 ERA over his first five starts of the year but has thrown to a 7.71 ERA over his last three outings.


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