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Phillies Pitching Dominant, Including the Bullpen

Posted By Bill Baer On July 25, 2011 @ 7:00 am In MLB,Philadelphia Phillies,Sabermetrics | 15 Comments

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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