Posted in MLB, Philadelphia Phillies, Sabermetrics | Print | 18 Comments »
The Phillies had been uncertain as to who would start this afternoon’s match against the New York Mets. Initially, their list included three pitchers: Kyle Kendrick, Vance Worley, and Nate Robertson. Robertson was obviously removed after allowing six runs in two thirds of an inning on Wednesday against the Florida Marlins. So, the Phillies were choosing between Kendrick and Worley. They chose Kendrick.
Kendrick has been, well, horrible in his last six starts, spanning 30 and two-thirds innings. His ERA is a bloated 7.04. While he has been BABIP unlucky (.359), he has a lackluster 10-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. By trade, he is not someone that misses a lot of bats. A .359 BABIP wouldn’t be nearly as detrimental if he were striking out an average amount of batters (about 6.0 per nine innings). Instead, he has been averaging fewer than three strikeouts per nine in his past six starts.
Worley, on the other hand, is someone who can miss bats. In his Minor League career spanning over 380 innings, he compiled a 6.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9, both respectable numbers, slightly above the average. In his first Major League start on Monday, he struck out five, walked one and allowed just two runs in five innings of work.
There is no reason not to start Worley today. He is, by all measures, a better pitcher than Kendrick. What has Kendrick done to earn this vote of confidence?
This dilemma is somewhat reminiscent of the team’s handling of Scott Mathieson earlier in the season. Despite Mathieson statistically being an upgrade over about half of the bullpen, the Phillies kept him stuffed in the Minors. When they finally called him up, he was the victim of some bad luck and was subsequently sent right back down to the Minors. The team even invoked a rarely-used roster loophole to do so.
As great as things have turned out in recent years, sometimes the team makes you wonder if they really are still stuck in the Stone Age in terms of player evaluation. Even using rudimentary metrics, Worley is clearly a better candidate than Kendrick. With 20 games left in the regular season, the team should want to maximize its chance to win in each. The Phillies are passing up a golden opportunity to do so by not replacing Kendrick with Worley today.