Cubs-Phillies Game Thread 4/28/12

Last night’s thread mentioned that the Cubs were one of the worst offensive teams in baseball, but it didn’t look that way last night. The Cubs scraped together three runs against Roy Halladay while Cubs starter Paul Maholm stymied the Phillies through six and a third — the only damage coming from a Ty Wigginton solo homer. Yes, it was the Phillies once again looking impotent on offense, but they will look to change that tonight against Randy Wells. In his season debut on Sunday, he allowed only two runs against the Cincinnati Reds despite striking out only two and walking five in five innings of work. The Phillies — not known for their plate discipline — will need to be patient against the right-hander tonight if they have any hope of mounting a run-scoring threat.




What We Know: 20 Games In

The Phillies are 9-11, five games back of first place in the NL East. Slow April starts are nothing new, but the past few years have featured more talent (on paper) than this year’s squad, leading to more confidence on a deeper level. The light at the end of the tunnel is the hope that two offensive pillars in Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will be returning in a month or so, but treading water until then will prove a dicey proposition, if it’s even enough to stay competitive with a hot Nationals squad (albeit one with a cupcake schedule to date).

Games 11-20 Recap

  • Record: 4-6
  • RS: 31; RA: 38
  • Notes: Cliff Lee hit the 15-day DL on April 21; Mike Stutes was also placed on the 15-day DL on April 24
  • Through 20 games, Cole Hamels has more hits and extra-base hits in eight fewer PA than Jim Thome
The surprise dynamic duo
There’s an unexpected but of offensive contribution coming for the new acquisition tandem of Ty Wigginton and Laynce Nix. In 81 combined PA (the majority of those being Wigginton’s), they’ve contributed a .329/.383/.548 line with three of the club’s 13 home runs. That’s certainly more than was expected of them entering the year, as Wigginton began his Phillies tenure with a .768 career OPS, and Nix with a .718 career OPS.
That said, it’s wet blanket time, but you could probably see this one coming: it’s not going to last. Wigginton fashions a .368 BABIP, .076 points above his career average and .053 points above his best single-season total. Nix, in a smaller sample, has a .467 BABIP, good for 4th-highest in the National League among those with at least 25 plate appearances. At this point, the Phillies are thankful for their good fortune in receiving this production, and the fact that both players have line drive rates at 20 percent (beyond that, the same 40/40 percent split in GB/FB, too) lends credence to their starts being comparable parts luck and skill. That said, it’s basically certain neither rate is sustainable, given the years of prior Major League info we have on both players. When they begin to fall back, the more talented core will have to step up; that includes Jimmy Rollins (.496 OPS), Placido Polanco (.595 OPS) and Shane Victorino (.699 OPS).
Pitching depths
Losing Cliff Lee to the DL puts a three-start onus on Kyle Kendrick to perform, and hopefully that’s as long a leash as he’ll get. Kendrick, who signed a two-year, $7.5 million deal this offseason (in case you forgot), had an abysmal start in Arizona April 23. His Bill James Game Score was 9.
In 4.2 IP before that start, he’d managed a sub-2.00 ERA despite walking on more hitter than he’d struck out, but now faces the harsh reality of a 9.39 ERA to go with three Ks and four BBs in 7.2 total innings in five appearances. In fact, since 2008 (485 total innings), Kendrick has a 4.62 ERA with a 4.2 K/9. It might not surprise you to learn that, since that 2008 season and among all pitchers with 400+ IP since that time, Kendrick’s K/9 is the lowest in baseball.
The Phillies will need some 2007 luck out of KK if they’re to manage in Lee’s absence.
Freddy Gloves
Freddy Galvis has quickly made a name for himself with great fielding at second base in Chase Utley’s absence. Utley was an impeccable fielder at his best, too, but with knee troubles lingering, it seems fair to wonder just how big the time split will be at second between Galvis and Utley when he returns.
According to BIS data, Galvis has made 14 GFPs (Good Fielding Plays, which contribute to stats like +/-) against just one DM (Defensive Misplay) in 20 games. His +4 is currently fourth in the league at second base, behind Kelly Johnson (+8), Alexi Casilla (+6) and Robinson Cano (+5), and his Runs Saved (4) are third, trailing only Johnson and Cano. The .560 OPS at the plate has been expected, but the play in the field has passed both the eye test and the stat test so far.