Qualls Ain’t Cutting It

Chad Qualls gave up two more home runs yesterday afternoon, the fifth and sixth he has allowed on the year in 19 innings of work. His ERA jumped to 4.82 in what has been a forgettable season for the veteran right-hander. The Phillies took a relatively cheap flier on Qualls and it simply hasn’t worked out, at least thus far. At $1.15 million, it isn’t the kind of costly mistake that will set the franchise back for years.

Still, his demise was predictable. Paul Boye noted, when the Phillies signed him, that opposing hitters were making contact more often and of better quality. That has held true in his 19 innings. One out of every four batted balls is a line drive (career average 18%), his ground ball rate is down to one out of every two batted balls (career average 58%), and more than one out of every three fly balls has been a home run (career average 14%). Qualls’ walk rate is also at a career-high 8.2% and his strikeout rate is the second lowest of his career at 15.3%, making for his first career K-BB ratio below 2.0.

His xFIP and SIERA are at 3.93 and 3.76, respectively, painting a more optimistic picture of his performance to date and the performance we are likely to see going forward. Indeed, a 37.5% HR/FB is unsustainable. However, so is his 88% strand rate. Five of the six home runs Qualls has allowed have come with the bases empty even though he’s given up 17 non-HR hits and walked seven more.

One possibility is to use Qualls exclusively as a ROOGY — a right-handed one-out guy. Over his career, he does not have much of a platoon split, but he has fared worse and worse against left-handed hitters as his career has gone on. This year, he has a 5.24 xFIP against them compared to 2.79 against right-handers. Additionally, lefties have accounted for five of the six home runs he has allowed.

Due to the relative lack of depth in the bullpen, the Phillies can’t simply kick Qualls to the curb. They can, however, reduce his role in the bullpen by using others in medium- to high-leverage situations until he shows improvement. With an offense that has been hit or miss and a starting rotation now in limbo with injures to Roy Halladay and Vance Worley, the Phillies can’t afford to be inefficient with their bullpen any longer.

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9 comments

  1. JM

    May 28, 2012 07:56 AM

    I hear Brett Myers is available

  2. LTG

    May 28, 2012 08:19 AM

    Myers looks good but he is costy.

  3. Jim

    May 28, 2012 08:47 AM

    Every time I see that Qualls has entered the game, I cringe.

  4. Dan K.

    May 28, 2012 10:46 AM

    @Jim,

    I usually change the channel until my phone tells me the other team has scored.

  5. Frank Reynolds

    May 28, 2012 11:09 AM

    Chuck should have got more use out of him yesterday. Once he gave up the first homerun and put the game out of reach he should have kept him for the rest of the game or at least until his arm fell off. That way you kill to birds with one stone you save the rest of the pen while making him unavailable for the rest of the week. He is the white flag when he comes in you know it’s over.

  6. Jim

    May 28, 2012 11:12 AM

    @Dan,
    Up here in Vermont, I’m usually following the game online. Nothing like that long, pregnant pause that only happens when a hit has occurred. Refresh, refresh, refresh…oh, look, another three-run homer…time to go to bed…crap, it’s a day game!

  7. KH

    May 28, 2012 11:26 AM

    We signed a guy on the downside of his career for 1 mil and then began using him in high leverage situations from the jump. Not a real big surprise to anybody but RAJ I guess that he has been bad. This clown have like 5 blown saves lol.

  8. Greg

    May 30, 2012 03:40 PM

    Not to get all dinosaur-y on you, but you certainly didn’t need any new-fangled stats to tell you this was a terrible signing. Since day one, I’ve been more surprised in outings where Qualls DIDN’T give up a HR.

  9. DARK STAR

    May 30, 2012 06:09 PM

    There will be no Brett Myers as long as Dubee Is with the Phils as they can’t stand each other. The way for the Phils to get back on track Is fire Amaro & Proefrock. They have this club on lock step with failure and that’s the reason trying to sign Hamels Is a huge joke.

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