Cliff Lee came up huge for the Phillies on Monday night. (AP Photo)
The Phillies kicked off their seven-game road trip in style on Monday night in San Francisco, notching a 6-2 victory over the world champion Giants behind the arm of Cliff Lee and the bat of Michael Young. Lee sparkled in 8 innings, looking very much like the dominant starter we saw in early April. Young knocked in two runs, scored another and had three hits and an intentional walk.
CLIFTON DAZZLES AGAIN IN STOPPER ROLE
- As I pointed out in today’s Gameday, Lee had been dominant in two of three starts that have come after Doc disasters. Make that three of four. Monday night’s performance was vintage Cliff Lee. The lefthander worked quickly, was economical with his pitches and had elite command. Of the 102 pitches he threw, a remarkable 71 were strikes. His final line; 8 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 6 K, 0 BB… and one line drive single.
- Not only did Lee only surrender 5 hits, he induced a trio of double play groundouts that enabled him to get through eight innings. Lee faced one batter over the minimum through seven. Pence was the only Giant that Lee had trouble with. Pence was 3 for 3 and finished a triple shy of the cycle.
YOUNG, OFFENSE IMPRESSIVE VERSUS BUMGARNER
- After a two-out Chase Utley walk loaded the bases in the second inning, Young laced a two-run double down the right field line off Madison Bumgarner. Utley scored shortly thereafter on a wild pitch from Bumgarner, making it 3-0 Phillies. The Phils also loaded the bases in the first inning, but were unable to get on the board.
Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, May 01, 2013 10:19 AM Comments: 18
After three straight promising starts Roy Halladay turned in another clunker Tuesday night. In allowing eight runs on nine hits and two walks, Halladay finished April with a 6.75 ERA, 5.73 FIP and a ghastly 2.25 HR/9. He cost the Phillies 0.3 WAR last month.
MLB Network noted this morning that Halladay’s 5.59 ERA over the last calendar year (April 30, 2012 to April 30, 2013) is the second-worst among starters with 150 innings thrown. Only Ubaldo Jimenez has prevented runs at a worse rate.
In third place on that list is Joe Blanton, the former Phillie whose struggles to prevent runs in spite of impressive strikeout, walk and groundball rates is well known in these parts.
Based on the splits and filters offered at Fangraphs, Halladay and Blanton are the only two pitchers to fall into the following criteria since April 30, 2012: K/9 between 7.5 and 8.3, BB/9 between 1.8 and 2.5, GB% between 40% and 45% and FIP between 4.30 and 4.50.
While those K, BB and GB rates are solid, they don’t often translate into success when pitches are left over the middle of the plate and knocked out of the park. Whether it’s injuries or simply a decline in pure ability, Roy Halladay has been a different pitcher for over a year now. Unfortunately, that different pitcher resembles Joe Blanton more than anyone else.
Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, April 25, 2013 04:28 PM Comments: 30
In yet another lame showing, the Phillies fell to the Pirates, 6-4, dropping three of four in the series.
LEE BLOWS LEAD, BULLPEN STRUGGLES
-Even the great Cliff Lee is not immune to the virus spreading through this team. With a two run lead in the seventh, Lee gave up back-to-back singles to center field, the first to Gaby Sanchez – who also homered to put the Pirates on the board – and then Michael McKenry, tying the game at 3-3. After seven innings and 122 pitches, Lee fanned seven, allowed 10 hits, three runs, and one walk.
-With the score tied in the eighth, Phillippe Aumont was summoned from the bullpen and did the chic thing – give up runs. Aumont allowed three runs on three hits in just 1/3 of an inning before being pulled in favor of Chad Durbin.
-Consider me someone who has been a believer in Aumont. With his power arm, he seemed destined to become a very good major league relief pitcher. Instead, he has a WHIP of 1.95 in just 6 2/3 innings this season. That won’t cut it. The Phillies need pitchers they can rely on and right now Aumont is not one.
-Nor is Durbin, who came in and allowed one inherited runner to score. He also allowed two moon-shot foul balls to Pedro Alvarez before finally retiring him on a hard hit ball to center. This bullpen is completely bi-polar. Durbin has made 7 appearances this season, and has either allowed an earned run or inherited runner(s) to score in 6.
OFFENSE SPUTTERS AGAIN
-Domonic Brown knocked in two of the three Phillies runs, the first on a bloop double to center field. Nice to see him running hard on a ball that landed in no-mans land and stretch it into a double. Brown brought home a second run on a bullet sac fly to center field. He would double for a second time in the ninth, finishing 2-for-3.
-Jimmy Rollins finished 0-for-3 and his average dropped to .258 in the process. After such a hot start, Rollins seems to be leveling off. Ryan Howard raised his average to .284, but is still putting up some nasty-looking at-bats.
-Kevin Frandsen got a start for Michael Young at third base and reached base twice in four PA’s.
-Odd moment: After Frandsen’s eighth inning double, Chase Utley bunted him to third with no outs. The Phillies best hitter should not be bunting under any circumstances, ever. Ever. Utley also committed his fifth error of the season dropped what looked like a routine line drive in the ninth. While he is hitting, his fielding is suspect, which is very un-Utley-like.
-I’m actually happy to see Charlie Manuel get ejected. After an odd play in which Erik Kratz was interfered with at home plate by Clint Barmes, Manuel came out and argued until he could argue no more. That’s as much fire as we’ve seen from this team in quite a while.
Posted by Alex Lee, Sun, April 21, 2013 11:48 PM Comments: 8
After striking for two runs in the first, the Phillies offense was unable to get to a very hittable Jake Westbrook through six innings on Sunday night. Enter the Cardinals bullpen. The Phils scored five runs in the seventh and eighth – three of which came off a towering three-run shot from Erik Kratz – to notch a 7-3 victory and a series split against St. Louis. Kyle Kendrick kept his team in it with a gutsy six-inning performance against a potent Cardinals lineup.
Kyle Kendrick was solid again on Sunday for the Phillies.
OFFENSE COMES UP BIG WHEN IT COUNTS
- After grounding into a rally-killing double play in the sixth, Ben Revere redeemed himself two innings later when he stung a tie-breaking single up the middle in the eighth off Cardinals reliever Mitchell Boggs. Kratz hit the next pitch from Boggs deep into the cold Philadelphia night to blow it open, and the Phillies concluded their nightmarish week on a high note.
- Within that eighth inning, Michael Young extended his hitting streak to 12 games in controversial fashion. Young hit a routine ground ball that deflected off Cardinals reliever Mitchell Boggs’ glove into the infield’s no man’s land. The hometown scorer quickly credited Young with a hit. Young scored the game-winning run shortly thereafter on Revere’s single.
- It wasn’t all good for the Phillies on Sunday night. Revere’s double play was one of three in big spots for the Phillies and squandered a bases loaded, one-out opportunity. An inning later, the Phils couldn’t get Laynce Nix home from second base with no outs after he tied the game with a pinch hit double. The Phillies left nine runners in scoring position.
PITCHERS DO THEIR JOB
-Kyle Kendrick put together his third consecutive solid start, battling through six innings despite throwing 53 pitches in the first two frames. Kendrick gave up two runs, eight hits and a walk, striking out six Cardinals in the process. In his last three starts, Kendrick has given up only four runs in 19 innings, lowering his 2013 ERA to 3.28. Continue reading Offense Erupts Late, Phils Earn Split With Cards
Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, April 19, 2013 08:05 AM Comments: 15
“I think it’s ridiculous that we’ve had no walks in three days. I cannot believe it. More importantly, it’s about not just walks, but producing, and we haven’t done that. We haven’t gotten hits, period. We haven’t gotten hits with runners in scoring position, we haven’t gotten hits to lead off innings. We need more people on base and more offensive production. You’ve got to give some credit to the pitchers, but not all of it. We just need to be better. It’s as simple as that. Right now we’re not.”
Truer words were never spoken. That was Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., before the Phillies/Cardinals series opener on Thursday addressing the lack of plate discipline the team has shown recently. During Thursday’s game, the Phillies did manage – walks, but one game hardly says slumpbuster.
Amaro’s frustration is shared by many who have asked that this team take more walks, or at the very least, more pitches. That was the calling card of the mid-2000′s Phillies, led by Pat Burrell.
In 2007, at the height of the Phillies offensive output, their on-base percentage was a robust .354. Burrell was third in the major leagues with 114 walks, Ryan Howard fifth with 107. As a team, they led the NL in both categories that season. And it’s no surprise that in 2007, five of the top six teams in bases on balls made the postseason.
Fast forward to this season, and the Phillies are doing their best to stay off the base paths. They’re getting on base at a lousy .291 clip, just ahead of bottom feeders like the Cubs and Marlins in the National League.
Certainly, it’s not all about drawing walks – you must be able to hit. The Phils can’t manage that either. Their 126 strikeouts are fifth worst in baseball, and they rank in the bottom third in the majors in several major offensive categories.
And when you can’t hit for power or get on base, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. The Braves have struck out a league-high 121 times, slightly more than the Phillies. However, they also lead the NL in home runs, which more than makes up for their high swing and miss rate.
In the American League, the A’s are in the same boat. Lots of strikeouts, but lots of homers and walks. They’re filled with no-named players, yet lead the AL West because of this approach.
So, how did we get here? Aging veterans means slower bat speed, resulting in the need to guess a little earlier. Those veterans are in place because Amaro felt they represented the best fit for his ball club, some of them on long-term contracts, others as a stopgap. Free-swingers like John Mayberry Jr, Laynce Nix, and Erik Kratz have compounded the issues as role players that lack plate discipline.
And don’t look for Charlie Manuel to ask his guys to sit there and wait for ball four. Prior to Thursday’s game, Manuel admitted he never preached walks, that he’d like to see the team put balls in play. But he did admit that something has to give. Even Manuel understands that to get guys home, you’ve gotta put guys on.
Aging, high-priced players and Amaro’s inability to execute on the lesser, role players has this team searching for a way to score runs. Can it change?
Delmon Young is the epitome of a free-swinging slugger. If healthy, he’ll help the power numbers, but has a career .317 OBP. Young is also a negative threat once he’s on base. Darin Ruf might give this lineup a shot of life, but can’t play the outfield. Does it make sense to trade for another veteran bat to add to an already-aging roster? Would Ruben attempt to overhaul the roster, clear out some of the vets, and attempt to start anew?
There are no easy answers right now, as the team you see is the team you get. Changes must come from within. But that’s part of the problem. Can this group of players become disciplined, when recent history shows a major decline in that department?
Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Thu, April 18, 2013 02:30 PM Comments: 3
The Phillies announcedJohn Lannan was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained quadriceps tendon in his left knee. Lannan attributed his knee troubles to tendonitis to reporters after last night’s game.
There has been no corresponding move made yet but Adam Morgan is making quite the impression in Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Morgan has thrown five innings, giving up one earned in today’s start and now has an ERA of 1.42 in three starts.
Analysis: Will Morgan be called up to replace Lannan? Tough to say but probably not. Morgan was pulled today after five effective , but long (100 pitches) innings, not because of any news related to Lannan. He is not on the 40-man roster while each of the other IronPigs starters (Tyler Cloyd, Jonathan Pettibone, B.J. Rosenberg, and Ethan Martin) are. Morgan has outperformed all four pitchers and is among the best in the International League right now but Morgan did pitch today and Lannan’s next turn is Monday, which means Morgan would go on slightly short rest if he gets the call.
When I scouted him on April 6, Morgan used a fastball, change-up, and a slider to challenge hitters and induce weak contact. Morgan has Major League stuff, no doubt about it. The only flaw I found was his out pitch (slider) always came on 0-2 or 1-2 from 1-1. He varied his pitches early but looked to the slider away against righties every time the count when in his favor.
The latter two pitchers had the potential to hit 3 WAR but they were significant injury risks and costlier investments. Lannan’s ceiling wasn’t as high but his floor wasn’t as low either. A team in the Phillies situation was more interested in the floor for this role.
Through two starts this season, the former Phillies foe has thrown 13 great innings with one walk, seven strikeouts and a 71% groundball rate. It’s obviously still very early in the season but Lannan’s first two outings have proven very promising.
However, it isn’t just his two starts in 2013 that are cause for analytical intrigue, as his six starts with the Nationals last season were pretty darned solid as well. Combining his most recent major action we get the following line: 8 GS, 45.2 IP, 41 H, 6 BB, 24 K, 61% GB rate.
And if we go back a bit further and take a look at his last 30 major league starts dating back to 2011 we get the following line: 30 GS, 169 IP, 169 H, 52 BB, 57% GB, 3.46 ERA. That’s pretty solid for a #3 or #4, let alone the fifth rotational cog.
At $2.5 million guaranteed and a maximum of $5 million via incentives, Lannan really only needs to hit his traditional career averages to outproduce his contract. If his most recent eight starts are any indication of things to come, this might just stand to become one of the best value deals of the offseason. Lannan has been doing more than just minimizing risk — he has been pitching very well.
Posted by Eric Seidman, Tue, April 16, 2013 12:40 PM Comments: 19
The Phillies lost a pitchers’ duel on Monday in a very entertaining game that saw Cliff Lee and Bronson Arroyo throw very well and Ben Revere make one of the best catches in team history. Things fell off the rails for the Phillies in the eighth inning, however, when small ball and a defensive miscue broke the 2-2 tie and put the Reds ahead.
The Reds’ two runs in the eighth were credited to Jeremy Horst, who loaded the bases before exiting with one out. His performance drew the ire of many Phillies fans, as this isn’t the first time Horst has been plagued by poor results in a crucial moment this season. However, most of what happened was out of Horst’s control that inning and he shouldn’t even have been pitching in the first place.
In the eighth inning of an important game, with a fully rested bullpen and the starting pitcher removed, Mike Adams should be on the mound. In fact, one could argue that Adams should have been on the mound even if the Reds had a bunch of lefties due up. Adams has faced exactly 745 righties and lefties in his career and has no platoon split whatsoever. His career wOBA allowed to lefties is .260 and it’s .254 against righties. Both are exceptional numbers and, for reference, Antonio Bastardo‘s wOBA allowed to lefties was .254 in 2011-12.
Charlie Manuel said after the game that Horst was the only pitcher warming up because the Phillies trailed 2-0 heading into the eighth. That’s perfectly justifiable, but after Domonic Brown singled and the decision was made to pinch-hit with Chase Utley, Adams or Bastardo should have started warming up as at least a precautionary measure in case the Phillies tied the game or took the lead. Worst case scenario is they sit back down.
Manuel also mentioned that he was hesitant to use Adams because he had thrown in four of the last five games. Another valid point, however, it wasn’t as if Adams really overexerted himself. He threw three pitches to finish off Cliff Lee’s outing against the Mets on April 9. He threw 19 pitches on April 10 against the Mets. He threw 16 pitches against the Marlins on April 12, and another 11 pitches against the Marlins on April 13. Yes, technically, that’s four outings in five days, but we’re talking about an average of 12 pitches per game spread out over that span. These weren’t all consecutive games, and it’s highly unlikely that his arm needed more than a day to recover after throwing 11 easy pitches against Miami.
Mike Adams was signed for that type of situation, just like Jonathan Papelbon was signed for crucial late-inning situations, regardless of any other ancillary factors. The Phillies have not handled Papelbon optimally since acquiring him, and if Monday night’s game against the Reds was any indication, the team might not handle its setup man correctly either.
Horst may have given up the runs and taken the loss on Monday but he wasn’t to blame. To blame was the decision to bring him in over Adams regardless of the results. Even if Horst had thrown a 1-2-3 inning with three strikeouts on nine pitches, the right call in that situation is to use a rested and healthy Adams, as he presented the Phils with the best opportunity to keep the game tied.
Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, April 15, 2013 09:46 PM Comments: 29
On a day filled with sadness for so many, baseball played on. On Jackie Robinson Day, and only a few hours after the horrifying explosions in Boston, the Phillies and Reds’ starters went toe-to-toe in a terrific pitcher’s duel. Unfortunately, the Phillies came up on the losing end of a 4-2 outing to the Reds.
Above is one of the greatest catches I have ever seen. It might be one of the greatest any of us have ever seen. Keep your eyes on it. It’s just as incredible the 100th time you watch it as it is the first.
It’s Ben Revere laying out completely to rob Todd Frazier of an RBI and extra bases, turning a sure double into a double play.
It’s up there with the likes of Griffey, Mays, Edmonds, and some of the greatest plays ever made in center field.
Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, April 10, 2013 11:55 AM Comments: 5
Reinvented is the chic term in Philadelphia. It’s being used to describe what people believe will be the saving grace in the career of Roy Halladay: reinvention. Can Doc learn to pitch with decreased velocity, honing his off-speed pitches when his fastball lacks the same pop it did during a decade-long run as the best pitcher in the world?
No one knows. And quitting and failure aren’t in Halladay’s vernacular, so we’ll be left to take a wait and see approach. Charlie Manuel and Ruben Amaro are doing the same, they said so themselves on Tuesday. Amaro told reporters that they would give Halladay as long as he would need to become the pitcher they all believe he can still be.
But what kind of pitcher is that, exactly?
Father Time’s win streak will stay intact, but in the case of Halladay, he hopes to push him off just a little longer. Some in the business were able to do it (with or without PED’s) better than others.
It was an awesome game. I was there. And I obviously offended a nationals “fan” high-fiving Phils fans after each of the 8 runs. And he shot his mouth off. I basically called him a fake fan. A 10year fan. He […]
I guess by “they” you mean “us” (Phillies)? The catcher position is indeed a problem for us; Ruiz is long of tooth and Tommy Joseph isn’t going to work out. OTOH, Matt Wieters enters free agency this winter; […]
Did not seem to insult you post I like minor league updates and post my point being if you can do your job why can’t the other members of the staff do theirs. I do not think you should do game day post.