Phillies Pitching Dominant, Including the Bullpen

The Phillies completed their 100th game of the season yesterday, a 5-3 victory over the San Diego Padres. To mark the milestone, many dug through historical data for juicy tidbits of trivia. My contribution was this on Twitter:

Phillies have allowed only 332 runs in their first 100 games. That’s the lowest total in franchise history after the Dead Ball Era.

As the heralded faces of the pitching staff, the trio of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels receive the lion’s share of the credit for those marks. Rightly so, as the three have pitched nearly half of the team’s 910 innings. Any of the three could go into the 2012 season as the defending NL Cy Young award winner.

However, lost in the shuffle is the outstanding performance by the back end of the Phillies’ bullpen. With a perfect ninth inning yesterday, Antonio Bastardo continued a trend of dominant Phillies relief pitching. Bastardo’s ERA dropped to 1.42 while Ryan Madson sits at 2.02 and Michael Stutes at 3.38. Going into the season, only Madson was high on the Phillies’ depth charts, so the contributions by Bastardo and Stutes have certainly been unexpected. The bullpen as a whole has only blown three saves, and two of those came before the ninth inning.

Last year, FanGraphs made an attempt to improve stats for relief pitchers, since saves and holds do a very poor job on their own. They created “shutdowns” and “meltdowns”, where a pitcher increases or decreases his team’s chance of winning by six percent, respectively. Six percent is the chosen threshold to scale it to saves and holds. It is a more accurate representation of a reliever’s contributions with no arbitrary inning criteria.

Thanks to the trio in the bullpen, the Phillies have the fewest meltdowns in baseball with 28 and the third-best shutdown-to-meltdown ratio (78-to-28). Bastardo’s SD-MD “record” is 24-2; Madson, 19-3; Jose Contreras, 6-1; Stutes, 13-7.

Team

SD

MD

TOTAL

SD/MD

SD%

MD%

Giants

112

37

149

3.0

75.2%

24.8%

Braves

115

41

156

2.8

73.7%

26.3%

Phillies

78

28

106

2.8

73.6%

26.4%

Padres

93

38

131

2.4

71.0%

29.0%

Reds

85

39

124

2.2

68.5%

31.5%

Pirates

99

48

147

2.1

67.3%

32.7%

Marlins

93

49

142

1.9

65.5%

34.5%

Mets

75

42

117

1.8

64.1%

35.9%

Diamondbacks

79

45

124

1.8

63.7%

36.3%

Brewers

80

46

126

1.7

63.5%

36.5%

Nationals

88

52

140

1.7

62.9%

37.1%

Rockies

78

48

126

1.6

61.9%

38.1%

Cubs

69

46

115

1.5

60.0%

40.0%

Dodgers

58

40

98

1.5

59.2%

40.8%

Cardinals

71

57

128

1.2

55.5%

44.5%

Astros

48

48

96

1.0

50.0%

50.0%

Due to the great starting pitching, the Phillies’ bullpen has had significantly fewer chances than most of their National League counterparts; however, they have performed admirably when asked and it should be recognized alongside the work of the aces.

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15 comments

  1. Taco

    July 25, 2011 07:23 AM

    “Thanks to the trio in the bullpen, the Phillies have the fewest meltdowns in baseball with 28 and the third-best shutdown-to-meltdown ratio (78-to-28).”

    Should this say “national league” instead of “baseball”?

  2. Cory Lidle

    July 25, 2011 07:48 AM

    Why do certain teams have more total shutdowns and meltdowns than others? Giants 149 to the Phils’ 106, for example.

  3. Bill Baer

    July 25, 2011 09:10 AM

    @ Taco,

    I included the table only for the NL (space), but the Phillies are actually fewest/third-best in baseball with those stats.

    @ Cory Lidle

    Teams that play more close games will have more SD and MD opportunities, since the contributions of a reliever will be more magnified.

  4. Nate

    July 25, 2011 09:40 AM

    Nice to see this defense of the Phillies staff after the idiots over at ESPN did a piece that called the Braves’ staff “hands-down” the best in the NL – arguing that both teams’ rotations were equivalent but implying that the Phils’ pen was mediocre.

  5. bptess

    July 25, 2011 10:49 AM

    Bill,
    Where does Bastardo’s 24-2 fit into individual rankings?
    Thanks

  6. Bill Baer

    July 25, 2011 10:54 AM

    You can find the individual leaders here: bit.ly/oJ6y6z

    He’s tied with Joel Hanrahan at 24-2, and his total shutdowns are tied for tenth-best. He’s one of five players with at least 10 SD+MD with two or fewer MD.

  7. COAL HAMLETS

    July 25, 2011 11:08 AM

    I felt even going into the season that the Bullpen had a reasonable chance of being a team strength in 2011, especially since we seem to have a number of promising relief prospects who STILL haven’t had a chance to crack the roster, but Stutes and Bastardo have both been very pleasant surprises, and things could get even better if De Fratus and/or Aumont get called up and can even come close to their ceilings.

  8. andy

    July 25, 2011 12:36 PM

    this is why i dont understand the heath bell talk. i would go for pence or nothing

  9. bptess

    July 25, 2011 02:03 PM

    Top Ten in NL SD/MD Ratio:

    Joel Hanrahan 12.00
    Antonio Bastardo 12.00
    Jonny Venters 11.67
    John Axford 9.00
    Ryan Madson 6.33
    Mike Adams 5.80
    Tyler Clippard 5.60
    Brian Wilson 5.33
    Leo Nunez 5.20
    Heath Bell 4.80

  10. Gio

    July 25, 2011 02:05 PM

    Tough timing to make a call on relief help. Would love to see Lidge and Contreras in action before we’d consider making a move, but that’s not going to happen. Without these guys I’d argue for it. I do wish for a RH bat but not a 2-mo. plus October rental if we need to give up a bunch. I’d rather give up as big a package for a guy we could control for a couple more years, a Francoer or Pence. Also, I’m a huge Cuddyer fan. I understand he makes a hefty salary and I’m unsure of his contract status, but why haven’t we heard more about him?

  11. Greg

    July 25, 2011 04:16 PM

    I really like this year’s bullpen, especially the big three: Bastardo, Madsen and Stutes. With an effective Lidge returning to action, and the possible reassignment of Kyle Kendrick to the bullpen with Roy Oswalt’s return as a SP, this bullpen has sizzle and depth. Please, Ruben, don’t mess with it. Don’t trade any of these mensch!

  12. LTG

    July 25, 2011 05:23 PM

    Mensch is singular. Menschen is the plural, although I wager in English people nowadays say mensches. I wonder when mensch became an English word.

  13. hk

    July 25, 2011 05:26 PM

    Gio,

    Per Cot’s, Cuddyer is in the last year of his contract making him a potential rental. You probably haven’t heard much about him because I don’t think the Twins have committed to being sellers yet. Before this past weekend, they were 6 games out and heading into a 3 game series with the 1st place Tigers. If MIN had swept the series, they would be 3 behind the Tigers right now. Since the Tigers took 2 of 3, I suspect the Twins will join the ranks of the sellers and might make Cuddyer available.

  14. Mike B.

    July 26, 2011 03:14 PM

    “if on base percentage is so important, why don’t they put it on the scoreboard?”

    Anyone but him. Please.

  15. Phillie697

    July 26, 2011 04:23 PM

    Yeah, Francoer is a BAD idea. Here is hoping for Cuddyer, and hoping that’s why RAJ has been talking about Beltran so that he can “secretly” work out a deal with the Twins.

    After getting their asses kicked like there’s no tomorrow last night, I’m thinking the Twins front office is thinking “sell sell sell” rather seriously right about now.

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