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.

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34 comments

  1. Cutter

    April 08, 2013 08:12 AM

    Shows how much stock should be placed in Spring Training games, as Hamels looked really good for the most part there

  2. LTG

    April 08, 2013 08:45 AM

    How are Cole’s velocity and release point? He’s been unusually wild in his first two starts. I wonder if there are any other indicators of an unhealthy arm.

  3. Pencilfish

    April 08, 2013 09:26 AM

    Even though the sample is too small to draw any conclusions and the team’s pitching talent is not a 7+ ERA, I wonder how much a difference does a catcher make. There are still 19 games with Kratz/Quintero before Ruiz returns…

  4. Phillie697

    April 08, 2013 09:27 AM

    @Pencilfish,

    Way to state the obvious :P Is there ANY team’s pitching talent that is 7+ ERA?

  5. Pencilfish

    April 08, 2013 09:33 AM

    Phillie697,

    You missed the main point as usual, and I just RE-STATED BB’s point. I suggest you give up speed reading…

  6. SJHaack

    April 08, 2013 09:35 AM

    I am 100% confident that Cole will be fine.

    Chad Durbin needs to be excised from the Phillies’ roster immediately. I wonder how long it’ll take the Phillies management to realize he’s this year’s Chad Qualls.

  7. Phillie697

    April 08, 2013 09:36 AM

    @Pencilfish,

    Notice the “:P” I was trying to lighten up the mood here. First week has been rough.

  8. Pencilfish

    April 08, 2013 10:05 AM

    Phillie697,

    As you stated on another post, it’s only 6 games, but still how much do the pitchers miss Chooch calling games, instead of Kratz/Quintero?

  9. Phillie697

    April 08, 2013 10:12 AM

    Well, seeing as how I had doubts about Halladay and KK before the season started, I don’t quite have the same tendency to attribute the bad start to not having Chooch. Cliff Lee pitched a brilliant game without him, no? And I’m pretty sure Hamels forgetting how to pitch isn’t because Chooch isn’t there.

  10. LTG

    April 08, 2013 10:18 AM

    And we got good performances from most of the staff with Kratz as the primary catcher at the end of last year.

  11. Phillie697

    April 08, 2013 10:36 AM

    Although on the Phillie697 prediction front, remember how I said earlier in the off-season that no way the Phillies give up 680 runs again? Well, now that they’ve ALREADY given up 41 in six games, I might have to readjust my expectations on that a little…

  12. Jim

    April 08, 2013 11:22 AM

    Its actually pretty remarkable that we are 2-4 with how bad the pitching has been. We should be 1-5 and possibly 0-6 were it not for Cliff pitching a gem against the Braves.

    Hopefully Cholly will stop bringing in his mop up guys while the game is still close so we can actually win a few of them.

  13. Mike Powers

    April 08, 2013 12:16 PM

    “Cholly” has no choice but to bring in “mop up guys” when the game is on the line, unless the starter goes 7. The Phillies bulpen is closer, set-up man, and trash men.

  14. FanSince09

    April 08, 2013 02:12 PM

    I am still waiting for this site to finally acknowledge that I am right about Coal Hammels.

  15. hk

    April 08, 2013 03:17 PM

    “Hopefully Cholly will stop bringing in his mop up guys while the game is still close so we can actually win a few of them.”

    The problem is that Cholly doesn’t realize that Durbin is a mop up guy – Chad Qualls 2.0 if you will – and he loves himself some veterans, so count on continuing to see Durbin in medium to high leverage situations for a while until they realize that his career 4.97 ERA is much closer to his true talent level than last year’s (.251 BABIP aided) 3.10 ERA.

  16. amarosucks

    April 08, 2013 07:45 PM

    Title of this article is wrong. ‘Pitching’ was used instead of ‘Amaro’. ‘Horrendous GM who thinks it’s 1985′ would also have been acceptable

  17. Tomg

    April 08, 2013 08:50 PM

    The Philies should not give up on crap relievers named Chad until they’ve given Chad Everett from medical center a shot as well as the Republic of Chad. The former was never a pitcher and also is dead, but he’s bound to be better than Qualls or Durbin regardless; and the latter is a country and thus has no arms but still, I’d argue, an upgrade over Durbin.

    And if those two don’t work out, there’s always all that hanging chad from Florida 2000. Because the Florida chad isn’t the only Chad good at hanging things.

  18. LTG

    April 08, 2013 10:22 PM

    Has Durbin allowed 100% of inherited runners to score so far this year?

  19. hk

    April 09, 2013 04:34 AM

    LTG,

    Yes, Durbin has allowed all 7 inherited runners to score.

  20. LTG

    April 09, 2013 07:37 AM

    Has anyone told Charlie yet?

  21. Cutter

    April 09, 2013 07:40 AM

    Not much defense can be made of Durbin’s performance this year, but in Manuel’s defense, he’s also tried Horst and Valdes in similar spots, and they’ve failed as well.

  22. hk

    April 09, 2013 08:15 AM

    The problem is that he didn’t try Aumont or Bastardo.

  23. Phillie697

    April 09, 2013 09:22 AM

    Yes, because Chad Durbin, Jeremy Horst, and Raul Valdes are exactly who I want to put into the game in high leverage situations when I have a $12M-man, a $50M-man, and a guy who had a 14.0 K/9 and 36.2 K% last year in my bullpen. Apparently you also subscribe to the garbage-in/garbage-out style of relief pitching.

  24. Cutter

    April 09, 2013 10:57 AM

    Theoretically, those guys should be saved for the later innings.

    I’m not a huge fan of the overspecialiation of bullpen roles either, but that’s how almost every major league manager operates these days.

  25. LTG

    April 09, 2013 11:45 AM

    “Theoretically, those guys should be saved for the later innings.”

    I don’t think you know what ‘theoretically’ means. Theoretically, the best relievers should pitch in the most high-leverage situations once the starter is removed, regardless of the inning in which the situation occurs. Practically, we can’t predict well when those will be; so, managers work on the assumption that the later innings will be higher leverage and save their best for last. Unfortunately, that assumption is bad.

    Charlie has 4 good relievers. He should never have to use Durbin, Valdes, or Horst in a high-leverage situation, except after extra inning affairs.

  26. Phillie697

    April 09, 2013 12:29 PM

    Does anyone seriously believe that there are situations worse than bases loaded with your team up by 2 runs, or men on 2nd and 3rd and your team already down by 2 runs, that you need to save your best reliever for later just in case? “Saving for later” would mean something if there is a reasonable chance that something worse might result in the later innings.

    “Honey, we need to go down to the basement bunker! The tornado is coming!!!” “Nah, I’m saving that for when Russians launch nuclear missiles against us.”

  27. amarosucks

    April 09, 2013 01:12 PM

    Only good part about the pitching being awful is that is has masked the fact that the lineup is just as awful.

    Fire Amaro

  28. Cutter

    April 10, 2013 08:56 AM

    @LTG -

    Just because it isn’t a theory YOU subscribe to doesn’t mean it isn’t a theory.

    It’s unfortunately a theory adhered to by most major league managers

  29. LTG

    April 10, 2013 09:37 AM

    What you’re describing isn’t a theory. It’s just a habit or practice. It falls well short of having principles that justify the beliefs that guide the practice and the development of new hypotheses.

    At any rate, I bet managers would agree with the principle I articulated. And then claim that generally the later innings are higher leverage, so, they have to save their best relievers for the later innings.

    And still that false belief doesn’t justify how Manuel has managed his bullpen. 4 good relievers can cover 4 innings. Why not use Aumont or Bastardo for 1 out in the 6th and let him continue in the 7th, prepared to go to someone else if he gets in trouble? Why not even use them in the 5th, expecting to face the bottom of the order later?

  30. Cutter

    April 11, 2013 11:42 AM

    But do you really want Durbin, Horst, or Valdes in the later innings? If these guys are on the team, you’ve got to use them at some point.

  31. LTG

    April 11, 2013 12:57 PM

    In high leverage situations and close games, I don’t want them to pitch unless other options are exhausted. By bringing them in early they pitch before other options are exhausted. They need not pitch at all in close games where their lesser talent creates more risk.

    Also, we probably shouldn’t get too hysterical about Horst’s early struggles. If he gets Ks at the same rate as last year, he’ll be a good LH option.

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