Pitching to Blame for Phillies’ Rough Start
The Phillies lead the Majors in runs allowed with 41, good for a 7.10 ERA. If not for Cliff Lee‘s stellar performance on Thursday in the series finale against the Braves, who knows how much worse it would have been. Cole Hamels has had a forgettable two starts to open the season, allowing 13 runs in 10.2 innings and the bullpen as a whole has been awful, allowing 15 runs in 17.1 innings. Additionally, the bullpen is the worst in Major League Baseball in WPA added at 0.26 and is fifth-worst in overall WPA at -0.65.
In the Phillies’ 130-year history, only eight teams have opened the season in worse shape pitching-wise than the 2013 team through the first six games:
- 1895: 75 runs allowed (-27 run differential)
- 1883: 68 runs allowed (-37 run differential)
- 1931: 51 runs allowed (-20 run differential)
- 1935: 46 runs allowed (-6 run differential)
- 1976: 44 runs allowed (+2 run differential)
- 1938: 43 runs allowed (-23 run differential)
- 1884: 42 runs allowed (-6 run differential)
- 1919: 42 runs allowed (-3 run differential)
- 2013: 41 runs allowed (-16 run differential)
Only one team was as bad in the post-integration era, the 1976 team that went on to win 101 games and lose in the NLCS to the Cincinnati Reds. However, their run differential was positive and nearly 20 runs better than the 2013 Phillies’. Six of the other seven teams went on to post losing records.
Despite six homers in total allowed to right-handed hitters, including Billy Butler‘s grand slam against Cole Hamels yesterday, lefties have been the main issue. They have combined for a .447 wOBA, including .467 against Phillies’ lefty pitchers and .420 against Phillies’ right-handed arms. Right-handed hitters have posted a .314 wOBA, including .299 against Phillies’ lefties and .344 against the right-handed pitchers.
It goes without saying that six games — one or two starts; two or three relief appearances — is much too small of a sample from which to draw conclusions. The Phillies’ true pitching talent doesn’t rest at an ERA north of 7.00. But it certainly isn’t the start many anticipated going into the season opener in Atlanta.