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Posts Tagged ‘Pitches’

Jonathan Papelbon, And Why You Should Appreciate Him

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, May 14, 2015 09:45 AM Comments: 4

PHOTO: AP

PHOTO: AP

Last night, Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 113th save for the Phillies, passing Jose Mesa for the franchise record. It wasn’t any ordinary save, though. After walking Francisco Cervelli to begin the inning, a throwing error on a pickoff attempt allowed pinch runner Steve Lombardozzi to reach third with just one out. Two pitches later, Jordy Mercer hit a fly ball in foul territory that looked like it could be a game-tying sacrifice fly. Jeff Francoeur had other ideas, as his monster of a throw home ended the game with a double play. It was an incredible way to get the record. Papelbon even said in his post game interview “what just happened?”

Now, 113 saves with one team is a lot. Brad Lidge had 100 with the Phils. Tug McGraw had 98, Ricky Bottalico had 78. Ryan Madson had 52. As far as Phillies closers go, Lidge, Tug, and Papelbon are all at the top. But only one of those guys makes Phillies fans blood boil. Continue reading Jonathan Papelbon, And Why You Should Appreciate Him

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Ken Rosenthal, Awkward Press Conferences, and Why The Phillies Are Stuck In Neutral

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, February 12, 2015 10:30 AM Comments: 82

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“Stuck in neutral”

Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal wrote about the Phillies in his column over at Fox Sports.

He started out with four hypothetical “awkward” press conferences–Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee, and Ryan Howard–asking the players about potential trades when Spring Training rolls around. These are all guys that the Phillies probably should’ve parted ways with by now. They know it, reporters know it, most fans know it. Heck, even the Phillies might know it. Here’s a quote from Rosenthal following the intro:

We’re talking awkward — painfully awkward. And unless things change before the Phillies’ first workout a week from Thursday, their offseason will look like a major fail.

Now, I think I disagree that the offseason will be a major fail if they don’t move any of those four guys before Spring Training. They did manage to make deals to part ways with Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd, which was noted by Rosenthal. Those weren’t exactly blockbuster deals, but they were something.

But I agree that a failure exists with the Phillies front office. The failure, in my opinion, does not lie in the 2015 offseason. It has already happened. They should’ve moved Cliff Lee a long time ago. Ryan Howard, in my opinion, should’ve been simply released during the season last year. Jonathan Papelbon should’ve been traded for something, either at the deadline last season, or any time during this offseason. Only Cole Hamels was worth hanging on to going into 2015. The David Price trade at the deadline last year hurt Hamels’ value, and the free agent moves this offseason (Jon Lester to the Cubs, James Shields to the Padres, to be precise) didn’t help either. I think they’ll get some better offers leading up to the deadline, as contending teams realize that they need a starter.

But Rosenthal is right. Maybe the Phillies are being too stubborn, and maybe it’s doing more harm than good. Here’s what he had to say about it:

The front office’s stubbornness, though, appears to go even deeper, whether it’s Amaro or Gillick who is actually calling the shots. The Phillies refuse to accept that they might not get exactly what they want.

Can the Phillies fix their mistakes? Sure. But, as Rosenthal states, it would require the Phillies to loosen up and entertain some offers that might not be up to their standards. Unless something changes soon, things will only get worse. Here’s how he put it:

And good luck to the Phillies persuading their fans to buy tickets for a team that remains stuck in neutral.

Stuck in neutral. I like it. The car that is the Phillies is on a downward path, stuck in neutral, and Ruben Amaro Jr. is at the wheel. He still has time to turn that baby around, but time is running out. Tick, tick, tick.

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2014 Player Reviews: Jerome Williams

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Mon, November 03, 2014 11:00 AM Comments: 11

PHOTO: AP/Chris Carlson

PHOTO: AP/Chris Carlson

The Phillies claimed pitcher Jerome Williams off waivers from the Rangers back on August 10. They needed starting pitching help, and likely didn’t want to go with Sean O’Sullivan for the 5th spot in the rotation.

Williams, however, didn’t appear to be all that good of an option at the time. He posted a 6.71 ERA for the Astros and Rangers up to that point in 2014. Many Phillies fans didn’t even know who he was, had never even heard his name before. We cleared that up, though.

But then something great happened. He was good. Not good-for-a-fifth-starter good, either. He posted a 2.83(!!!) ERA for the Phils in nine starts. The 32 year old averaged just over 6.1 innings and about 2.2 runs (including unearned) per start. For comparison, Cole Hamels averaged between 6.2 and 7.0 innings and exactly two runs per start, and A.J. Burnett averaged just under 6.1 innings and 3.58 runs per start.

Williams, who generally used his fastball and sinker the most, never really pitched that well, despite his outstanding ERA. His K% was just 16.5% and his BB% was 7.4%. League averages for NL starters were 19.5% and 7.1%. His K-BB% was 9.1%, with the league average being 12.4%. Many of his other stats were at or close to league average.

One thing that sticks out, however, was his BABIP. While he was surrendering around the league average in line drives, ground balls, and fly balls, the ones that were in play were turned into outs at a higher rate than average–his BABIP was .257, and the league average was .294. .257 was the 8th-lowest among NL starters with at least 50 innings pitched. Combine that with his solid (8.5%) HR/FB rate, and we’ve got a pretty good explanation for his great ERA, despite his average peripherals.

GRADE: A+

I don’t see how Jerome Williams can receive any other grade. He came to the desperate-for-starting-pitching-help Phillies and gave them all that they could ask for and way more. I would feel pretty comfortable saying that Williams’ performance-to-expectations ratio was the highest on the Phils. He was outstanding, and pitched himself into a new contract in Philadelphia.

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Inside the Phillies Combined No-Hitter

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Tue, September 02, 2014 11:00 AM Comments: 6

Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Ken Giles, and Jonathan Papelbon combined to no-hit the Braves on Sunday, the first no-hitter since Roy Halladay, and 12th in franchise history. It was the first combined no-no in team history, and featured six innings from Hamels, and one each from Diekman, Giles, and Papelbon. Box scores: Baseball Reference, ESPN, Fangraphs, MLB. Here are some other notes from the historic game:

- Dating back to 1914, there have been 11 combined no-hitters in MLB, most recently being the Mariners with a 1-0 win over the Dodgers in 2012.

- The Phillies threw 147 pitches–108 by Hamels, 15 by Diekman, 15 by Giles, and nine by Papelbon. 147 is good for the 4th-highest total recorded. For comparison, Roy Halladay threw 115 pitches. The most thrown in a no-hitter was 151 by the Astros in 2003. Three former Phillies pitched in that game–Roy Oswalt (1.0 IP), Brad Lidge (2.0 IP), and Billy Wagner (1.0 IP).

- The four pitchers used is one of just five such games.

- Six baserunners were allowed by the Phillies, including four(!) stolen bases–making it the only such game in known history. There have been 32 no-hitters with six or more baserunners allowed, but just one with at least four stolen bases.

- Hamels has given up a hit just under every inning and a third this year (169.1 IP, 143 H), slightly above his career average (1766.0 IP, 1571 H). For comparison, in 2010, Roy Halladay went just over one inning for each hit (250.2 IP, 231 H). Sunday was the second time Hamels left a game without giving up a hit, the other time being in 2010 when he exited after two innings against the Braves.

- The Phillies have had a pitcher throw a hitless outing 194 times this year. Hamels, obviously, had the longest outing at 6 IP, but the 2nd-longest outing is a bit surprising. Jeff Manship (remember him?) threw four no-hit innings against the Mets on May 31. He pitched in innings 10-13 before being relieved by Antonio Bastardo–who then gave up a game winning single to David Wright.

- At 190 minutes, Sunday’s no-hitter was the longest ever recorded. Clayton Kershaw‘s no-no from June is now 3rd-longest.

- For the Braves, they were the first team in 2014 to fail to score a run with at least four stolen bases and six baserunners. The Yankees did it in 2013 and the Red Sox did it in 2012.

- The Phillies faced 33 batters–six over the minimum. There have been 22 no-hitters with at least 33 batters faced, including Tommy Greene‘s no hitter in 1991 against the Expos.

- The seven runs the Phillies scored is most by the team in a no-hitter since 1903 when they put up ten runs against the Cubs. It is the 2nd most runs in a combined no hitter.

- Carlos Ruiz has now been the catcher for three unique no-hitters. The only player with more is Jason Varitek.

- The Phillies join the Giants in having three no hitters in the last five seasons.

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Ken Giles, And The Battle For Closer In 2015

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Fri, August 29, 2014 11:00 AM Comments: 6

PHOTO: (AP/Chris Szagola)

PHOTO: (AP/Chris Szagola)

Ken Giles has been good this year. Really good. The 23 year old, flamethrowing reliever was called up on June 8 after Mike Adams was placed on the disabled list with shoulder issues. Giles had a 1.88 ERA and 12 saves in the minors for Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley prior to the call up.

He was only expected to fill in for Adams and provide some spark in the late innings ahead of Jonathan Papelbon.

But he’s done so much more.

In 32 appearances and 33.2 innings, Giles has given up just six runs–five earned, good for an ERA of 1.34. He doesn’t give up many home runs (0.27 per 9), and doesn’t allow much contact–battersare making contact at a rate 67.4% against him, 4th in the NL. He has a 5.33 K/BB ratio, which is 8th in the NL (relievers, min 30 IP), and largely due to his absurd amount (48) of strikeouts. Among NL relievers with at least 30 innings pitched, both his K/9 (12.83) and his K% (38.1%) are in the top five. An interesting and unrelated note–Jake Diekman is right up there with Giles in both those categories.

Giles has an average velocity of 97.1 on his fastball, second in MLB to only cyborg Aroldis Chapman of the Reds. He also throws a nasty slider, and, according to PITCHf/x data, is the 16th most valuable in the league. 32 of his 48 strikeouts (two thirds) have come via the slider, and opponents are hitting just .137/.154/.157 against it. He’s given up just one extra base hit in 208 sliders thrown (0.48%).

The fastball-slider combo reminds me of another Phillies closer–Brad Lidge. His fastball velocity hovered around 95 MPH before he began to lose it (the average fell to about 89 MPH by 2011) and his slider was valued at 4th in all of baseball from 2007-2011. About 81.8% of his strikeouts came via his slider, and opponents hit just .190/.251/.301 against it. They’d only make contact on 54.8% of swings against it, and hit just 35 extra base hits in 2202 total pitches seen (1.6%).

PHOTO: (AP/Laurence Kesterson)

PHOTO: (AP/Laurence Kesterson)

The current closer for the Phillies–Jonathan Papelbon–has been as good as ever in 2014. He has an ERA of 1.60 (11th in NL), a K/BB ratio of 4.15 (21st in NL, and a fastball valued at 4th best in the NL. Many of his numbers this year are somewhere near his career bests, even though his fastball velocity is down. I should also mention that a few of his numbers are somewhere near his career lows as well. He gets a lot of flack for his comments to the media and his slow pace on the mound, but there’s no denying he’s been good this year.

But what about next year? The Phillies have been openly trying to trade Papelbon, or “Cinco Ocho”, as he likes to call himself–no no avail. In that article, Ken Rosenthal ponders that the lack of interest in Papelbon might be due to his falling velocity and his personality, but that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn’t think so.

Regardless, the Phillies will have to make a decision on Papelbon for next year, because Giles seems ready to take over at closer and I don’t think it’s likely that Papelbon can continue to pitch at this level. If they want to go with Giles, they will have to get rid of Papelbon in some capacity, whether it be via trade or release, because Papelbon will not want to be a setup man, even though he’s really helped groom Giles this year.

I think Giles deserves it, and I think Papelbon will regress next year, and has rubbed Phillies fans the wrong way too often for the Phillies to sell him as the closer over Giles in 2015.

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Just Who Is Jerome Williams?

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Mon, August 25, 2014 07:00 AM Comments: 14

PHOTO: (AP/Chris Carlson)

PHOTO: (AP/Chris Carlson)

Jerome Williams is not a household name. Many Phillies fans are still wondering just who he is. And I don’t blame them. In the scorebook, he’s the guy who’s thrown three straight gems for the Phillies.

August 12: 5.1 innings and 2 earned runs against a tough Angels team.

August 18: 7 innings, one earned run against the Mariners.

August 24: 8 innings, one earned run against the Cardinals.

All together, that’s just four earned runs given up in 20.1 innings–a 1.77 ERA.

But who is he? The 32 year old grew up in Hawaii, and prior to coming to the Phillies, he’s played for (starting with most recent) the Rangers, Astros, Angels, Nationals, Cubs, and Giants.

Continue reading Just Who Is Jerome Williams?

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The Decline of Jonathan Papelbon

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Thu, April 03, 2014 12:14 PM Comments: 12

PHOTO: AP / Jim Cowsert

Last night, Jonathan Papelbon blew his first save opportunity of the season, surrendering three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning in Texas. This has been somewhat of a theme for Papelbon recently. As Todd Zolecki noted last night, Paps has pitched poorly over his last 39 appearances–4.46 ERA, and eight blown saves. His infamous “I didn’t come here for this.” quote also came during that span.

Another thing to note, though, is over that same period of time, his fastball velocity has decreased. Last night, his fastball averaged 91.62 MPH. On June 24 of last year–the date that Zolecki used–his fastball averaged 93.44 MPH. In 2012, he was in the 93-96 range all year, and in 2011 he was up near 95-97.

Of course, a decline in velocity for a 33 year-old isn’t unexpected–but another thing to consider is his arm slot, which has steadily decreased (Credit to Bill Baer and John Stolnis for that find).

The question is–will this continue? Or is Papelbon simply in a pitching slump? The answer isn’t simple. It’s easy to expect more of the same old “Papelblown”, especially from a guy that seems to be extremely easy to hate by Phillies fans. But he’s gone through slumps like this before, too. In 2009, he had a 1.85 ERA with 3 blown saves–followed by a 2010 season where he had a 3.90 ERA with eight blown saves. He knows adversity.

However, if his dropping arm slot and velocity are effects of an injury, that’s a different story. We’ve seen this kind of reduction in velocity and effectiveness before. See: Roy Halladay. Halladay didn’t drop his arm slot like Paps is doing, but the drop in velocity and decrease in effectiveness is similar. Halladay labored a lot more than Papelbon is now, as well. So I’m not saying that Jonathan Papelbon has a bum shoulder, or that he’ll retire next year, but it is definitely something to watch. 33 is not terribly old for a closer–but Jonathan Papelbon is a crazy man. Not an ordinary closer. Still, there’s always a chance he gets past this.

And for our sake, I hope he bounces back.

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Braves Easily Defeat Phillies

Posted by Ryan Dinger, Thu, September 26, 2013 10:27 PM Comments: 15

Hamels has been a victim of poor run support all season. (Photo: AP)

Tyler Cloyd didn’t give the Phils much of a chance tonight. (Photo: AP)

The 2013 season is winding down, and the Phillies look like they’re already playing golf.

Behind a downright awful effort from Tyler Cloyd, and an absentee offense, the Braves easily defeated the Phillies tonight 7-1 in a game where they never really seemed interested in being there.

CLOYD LAYS AN EGG

- It was Tyler Cloyd, so there’s no way tonight’s result is surprising. Things got ugly early for the middling right-hander, as Jason Heyward took Cloyd deep to lead off the ballgame. It was a fitting start, as Heyward would lead the Braves all night, going 5-for-5 with four extra base hits. Atlanta would tack on four more runs in the first, Cloyd basically pitching BP to the Braves lineup. It would take him forty pitches to retire the nine hitters he faced in the inning, and nothing was easy.

- With the Phillies bullpen scheduled for a lot of work this weekend, Cloyd the Void would head back out for the second. Continuing his horrid start, he allowed two more runs before recording an out. With the score 7-1 in favor of the Braves, Sandberg would mercifully lift the once heralded Iron Pig. This could very well be the last time we see him in a Phillies uniform–or in the big leagues, period–and what a way for the Cloydster to go.
Continue reading Braves Easily Defeat Phillies

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Halladay Injured as Phillies Blanked by Marlins

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, September 23, 2013 10:17 PM Comments: 2

In what could be the final start by Roy Halladay in Phillies pinstripes, the Phillies were shutout by the Miami Marlins, 4-0. The injury was the biggest news of the evening.

Halladay left the game after just 16 pitches – registering one out and walking two batters – with what the team called “arm fatigue.” His velocity peaked at just 83 mph and Doc worked up a healthy lather that should only happen after 160 pitches, not 16. Something is clearly not right and it seems unlikely he’ll make his final start of the season in Atlanta.

Offensively, it was the 14th time in 2013 the Phillies were shutout. Nate Eovaldi was the man who blanked them, working 7 2/3  innings, allowing just three hits while fanning five. The Phillies could muster up just four hits on the evening.

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Halladay Leaves in 1st Inning with Arm Fatigue

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, September 23, 2013 07:51 PM Comments: 23

APTOPIX Phillies Marlins BaseballAfter just 16 pitches, Rich Dubee ran to the mound to check on Roy Halladay. There was nothing to be said. Halladay’s night, and possibly his career, was through.

Ryne Sandberg joined Dubee and after a few words spoken between the men on the mound, Halladay walked to the dugout with his head down, his face red, dripping with sweat. The Phillies are calling it right arm fatigue.

From the moment he took the mound, Halladay had little to give. His maximum effort was an 83 mph fastball.

And is there something more to it? Halladay has looked noticeably frail over the past few seasons, starting with his outing in Chicago a few seasons ago when he left with heat exhaustion.

The question becomes, what now? If this is the final time we’ve seen Halladay take the mound, it’s certainly not how he – or Phillies fans for that matter – envisioned the end. But it is a sad reality. Halladay’s arm, with over 40,000 regular season pitches on it, has seem better days.  Are there any more pitches left to be thrown?

 

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