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Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Thoughts on pitchin' 

I suppose we should be happy with a 2-2 split, under the circumstances. I'm badly disappointed with the performance of the Phillies bullpen yet again. It's almost like a cruel joke for Phillies fans: the minute something starts going right for the team (e.g., in this case the team's starting rotation), the bottom falls out of another (the bullpen). I was also thinking of the fact that Pat Burrell's strong start has been offset by Jim Thome and David Bell's foibles, etc.

To give you an idea about some of the problems the pen is having, check out this comparison of the rotation and the bullpen. For the purposes of fairness, I'm including Gavin Floyd in the "starters" circle though he has pitched badly in relief following his sterling start against the Cardinals. Check out the numbers:

Rotation / Team
ERA: 4.58 / 4.86
WHIP: 1.337 / 1.392
BB/9: 3.05 / 3.15
K/9: 6.52 / 6.84
HR/9: 1.38 / 1.39
FIP number: 1.560 / 1.537

I'm sorely tempted to subtract Floyd's 22 earned runs, 12 walks to 4 strikeouts and 4 home runs in 14 innings to bolster my argument, but there you are. Since the Phillies have groundballer types that don't log many strikeouts in their rotation, their FIP number is a little high and their K/9 is low. Delete Padilla and Floyd and those numbers look better. While Lieber's FIP is nearly two runs higher than his actual ERA (a product of the good- .762 DER -defense of him), Lidle and Myers are hurling very well:

Lidle is out-pitching his "real" ERA by over a run (3.16 FIP v. 4.43 ERA), but has been done-in by shoddy D (.678 DER).

Myers has been fabulous: averaging 11 K's per 9 innings, not issuing walks and being stingy with the home runs. I caution that his FIP ERA is one and a third runs higher than his "real" ERA, but he's having a great year.

Now scope out the bullpen:

Bullpen / Team
ERA: 5.57 / 4.86
WHIP: 1.531 / 1.392
BB/9: 3.40 / 3.15
K/9: 7.65 / 6.84
HR/9: 1.42 / 1.39
FIP number: 1.479 / 1.537

Blowing leads, surrendering home runs ... the bullpen has been a little bad and a little unlucky.
While the relievers have been pitching poorly, I caution that the 'pen has had poor defense. Worrell's 9.82 ERA looks awful, but he's had a .537 DER behind him. Adams, Cormier and Madson have all had substandard defense.

So the bullpen's been pitching badly, but I think they'll get better. The rotation has been ok, but it'll get a little worse.

Next up: the Braves. Let's hope we take 2 of 3, because it would be terrible to have a losing record on a homestand.

Comments:
If you look at ESPN's stats for the Phils, they have splits for starters and relievers (thus dividing up Floyd's innings, which is probably the only difference between their numbers and yours). The difference is even more extreme:

Stat / Team / Starters / Relievers
ERA / 4.86 / 4.16 / 6.55
WHIP / 1.39 / 1.29 / 1.64
BB/9 / 3.15 / 2.84 / 3.91
K/9 / 6.84 / 6.58 / 7.45
HR/9 / 1.39 / 1.32 / 1.55
FIP / 1.537 / 1.395 / 1.879
 
Yeah, the season's not getting any younger, and the Phillies don't seem to be getting any better. Doesn't look as if you think there's much chance of improvement... I'm pretty much in agreement.

You may already be aware of this, but this study by Tom Tippett suggests that pitchers do have some control over whether balls in play become outs, contrary to the findings of Voros McCracken. Not as much control as they have over fielding-independent outcomes, of course, but some control nonetheless.
 
The whole one-thing-goes-wrong-just-as-another-thing-goes-right is, quite honestly, typical of a .500 team. I'm going through those same pains with the Giants right now; can't get over the hump.

One thing that I think would have to get better for the Phillies is the offense -- the team is running a pretty good OBP, especially given that their team batting average isn't all that great, but their SLG is bottom of the league. I've got to figure that SLG will be more like middle of the pack by the time the season's over, while their OBP could stay steady...meaning more runs overall.

The pitching is the worrisome part of the equation -- just peeking at some of the numbers, are the Philly pitchers allowing a lot of extra-base hits? Their OPS against and overall ERA seemed a bit high given that they've got essentially the same team WHIP as Washington, Pittsburgh, the Dodgers, and the Cubs, but the Phillies' team OPS against and their team ERA are both chunks higher than all those teams -- seems like they've got a problem dampening power.

Oh, well. Too easy for me to sit in a chair, look at numbers and try to diagnose a problem rather than watch more than just 2 Phillies games this year and SEE what the problems really are like you do, Mike.
 
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