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Broxton Cocktail

Jonathan Broxton is an elite closer, averaging 12 strikeouts per nine innings with a 2.92 ERA. Asking him to get three outs in a game his team has a 95% chance of winning is a no-brainer. And the overwhelming majority of the time, Broxton will convert the 95% chance into 100%.

Unless it’s against the Phillies.

Broxton has been the victim of some great Phillies memories recently. He added one more to the timeline last night.

The Phillies were down 9-2 going into the bottom of the eighth inning. FanGraphs listed their probability of winning at a whopping 1%. However, the never-say-die Phillies scored four runs on four singles and a double off of Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen. Still, their win probability only moved up to 3.6% by the end of the inning with the score 9-6.

Bottom of the ninth, enter Broxton, he of the career 4.91 ERA in 14.2 IP against the Phillies, highest among any team against which he has logged 11 or more innings. Was his lack of success against them running through his mind? Was he recalling:

Back to tonight. The Phillies are down 9-6 entering the ninth inning. They have a 5% chance to win.

Broxton hit Polanco to start the ninth inning, then walked Mike Sweeney and Jayson Werth to load the bases with no outs. Ben Francisco hit a ground ball that went through Casey Blake‘s legs, scoring two runs to bring the Phillies within one run. Carlos Ruiz, always the hero, ended the game with a two-run double to left-center. Once again, Broxton walked off the field failing to have nailed down the save against the Phillies.

Here’s a look, in chart form, of Broxton’s failure to hold the Phillies scoreless. (Via FanGraphs)

It would be interesting to find out if the Phillies have information on Broxton that the rest of the league does not. While five games constitutes a very small sample, the odds of the Phillies coming from behind the way they have are astronomically low. There is likely something more to this than simple statistical variance, whether it’s Broxton’s jitters or some juicy information the Phillies have in their scouting reports.