21 Games In; (Re)Visiting Two Early Storylines

With today’s 3-2 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Phillies have now played 21 games in 2018, which means we are somehow already through about an eighth of the season.  Hard to believe, Harry.

At 8-2 in their last 10 games and 13-3 since their embarrassing showings vs. Atlanta and New York to start the season, there are few teams in baseball hotter than the Phillies.  Now, with almost a month’s worth of games on record, let’s look at a pair of the key Phillies storylines from Spring Training and the early regular season. Continue reading…

With the Rotation Doing Fine, The Phillies Need To Reevaluate Their Bullpen

The Phillies starting rotation has not been dominant this season on a whole. They have had a few dominant starts, like Jake Arrieta last night, but they haven’t been truly lights out, especially when you account for their level of competition. Their starters have the 5th best ERA in baseball at 3.14, but once again they have yet to really face an offensive power house. Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez have been very good and Jake Arrieta seems to have finally finished with the warmup portion of his year. Aaron Nola is still not missing bats at a high rate, but he has a dominant start under his belt and a 2.22 ERA. If all of that holds, the Phillies have an above average rotation with some upside for a bit more. Early in the offseason the Phillies built a bullpen to withstand a bad rotation. At the time they didn’t have Jake Arrieta and Velasquez and Pivetta were huge question marks, as was the now injured Jerad Eickhoff. They expected to manage short outings from their rotation, signing Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter to bolster 7th and 8th innings, and building a team to handle a 8 man bullpen. Continue reading…

Phillies Need to Continue Feasting On Bad Teams In Weak Early Schedule

After a 1-4 start to the season, the Phillies have won 8 of their last 9 games. At 9-5 they have one of the best records in baseball, but I don’t think anyone would argue that they are one of the best teams in baseball. After 14 games of the season it seems a bit much to say that a series against the Atlanta Braves is important, but as the Phillies head back to Atlanta they face 3 fairly important games for a mid-April tilt.

It is fairly obvious why the Phillies record is where it is. They lost 2 of 3 games to the Braves in a series with some bad breaks, bad management, and some disastrous pitching from Vince Velasquez. They lost two close games to a Mets team playing out of its mind. Then they just got done cleaning up against three of the five worst teams in baseball. There is nothing fluky about the Phillies having 9 wins, but there is also nothing predictive. The Phillies are at minimum in baseball’s vast mediocrity and not among it’s crap, they are better than the clearly tanking and the inept. They are also not an elite team who is going to win when they make mistakes. Continue reading…

Crash Bag #6: The Young Guys Might be Fine

Sorry for not writing much. I don’t have any excuses, so here is your questions answered.

@andrewrnnier: Can they continue to find at bats for everyone/does the early success of Cesar make him more appealing in a trade thereby freeing up regular at bats for kingery

@andrewrnnier: I guess the better question should have been, given the contract extension and number of at bats Kingery has gotten in the first two weeks, what are the long term ramifications? Is he truly going to be a super utility who plays 4-5 times a week until Cesar moves on?

@DoctorSchoppe: How’s your gut feeling on Caesar holding up in this young season? How about we let em play. JP has the glove to be an everyday regular and his floor is above Galvis. Next question. #philliestalk

I am just going to combine these all kind of together. I think they can continue to balance the playing time. We have already seen guys get hot, guys get cold, and we have yet to see anyone get injured. Odds are at some point that someone is going to get banged up, at which point having their current depth will make the loss much less painful. Continue reading…

The Phillies Aren’t Hitting Relievers

The Phillies are currently 3-5 and coming off a bit of a downer of a 3rd game in their series with the Marlins. In the final game of the series the Phillies repeated a pattern that they have had in many of their games this season. After scoring three runs early in the game, the Phillies managed 1 hit over the final 6 innings. When the Phillies bullpen faltered, the offense could not muster any runs to hold off defeat.

On the year the Phillies are hitting .278/.380/.474 off of starting pitchers. In 160 plate appearances they have 22 walks to 36 strikeouts. Now much of this is boosted by Saturday’s destruction of the Marlins, but the Phillies also knocked Noah Syndergaard out of the game early in their series vs the Mets before being unable to muster anything against the bullpen. Early in games the Phillies have been grinding at bats, and drawing walks. Last in games they have been having strikeouts and an inability to sustain offense. The results has been outcomes like this.

1st inning: .333/.439/.545 7 BB 10 K
2nd inning: .214/.290/.357 3 BB 11 K
3rd inning: .353/.439/.529 6 BB 6 K
4th inning: .324/.425/.529 6 BB 8 K
5th inning .115/.207/.346 3 BB 6 K
6th inning: .281/.415/.438 7 BB 11 K
7th inning: .115/.148/.346 1 BB 10 K
8th inning: .111/.172/.148 2 BB 11 K
9th inning: .150/.292/.150 4 BB 7 K

Now we are talking about sub 30 PA sample sizes and unsutainably low BABIPs in the late innings and unsustainably high BABIPs in the early innings. Based on luck alone, the Phillies should get a hit off a reliever at some point this season. For now, the numbers match the eye test, which is the Phillies just not doing much of anything against bullpens this year.