Patience Required with Phillies’ Young Bullpen

The Phillies’ bullpen was yet again a major factor in a loss. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Through eight games, it’s a sentence that is already getting tiresome to write out, particularly since the Phillies are coming off of a season in which they finished with the second-worst bullpen in the National League with a 4.19 ERA. Following last night’s five-run firebombing that put the game under lock and key for the Brewers, the bullpen ERA stands at 4.94.

A quick recap of the performances:

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Credit Where Credit Is Due: Ryne Sandberg Managed Well in Friday’s Win

We — or at least I — have spent many words criticizing the strategy of Phillies managers on this blog over the years. In my quest to be fair, I try to highlight the good as well as the bad, but there’s always some bias in what gets published. The bad gets your attention while the good slips on by unnoticed. Recently, I wrote about Ryne Sandberg‘s questionable decision-making in handling his bullpen. On Friday against the Cubs, his bullpen management was wonderful.

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Pitchers Changing Their Approach to Domonic Brown

In January, I wrote an article about how pitchers had altered their approach to Phillies left fielder Domonic Brown in the second half of last season. After Brown had a ridiculous month of May in which he hit 12 home runs and a productive June in which he hit six homers and drew 12 walks, opposing pitchers began throwing him more stuff low and away not unlike what happened to first baseman Ryan Howard.

The trend has continued in the early going as evidenced by these heat maps:

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Jonathan Papelbon Lacked Velocity in Phillies’ Walk-Off Loss

Jonathan Papelbon allowed three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning yesterday, allowing the Rangers to walk-off happy winners for the second night in a row. Papelbon allowed three runs on four hits and two walks. That Papelbon was in trouble again was not very shocking, considering how often he was found on the tightrope last season. What was concerning, however, was that his fastball velocity remained in the low 90′s where it was last season, when discomfort about his viability began.

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Meet the New Boss, Same As the Old Boss

When the Phillies replaced Charlie Manuel with Ryne Sandberg as manager last seaeson, no one expected a completely new modus operandi. Both are cut from the old-school cloth. But there was the hope that a changing of the guard would signal a willingness to adapt and modernize. To the Phillies’ credit, there has been some of that with the implementation of an analytics department and GM Ruben Amaro acknowledged a potential willingness to platoon Ryan Howard. Through the first two games of the 2014 season, however, Sandberg has shown the same flawed bullpen management that plagued Manuel during his tenure with the Phillies, particularly in the last few years.

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With Good Health, the Phillies Should Score Many More Runs in 2014

Not that you needed yesterday’s 14-run outburst against the Rangers to identify that. The premise of the title does requires some suspension of disbelief. No, this is not an April Fool’s Day article. Now that the legal stuff is out of the way…

The Phillies scored 610 runs last season, the fewest they’ve scored in a live ball era, non-strike-shortened season since scoring 597 in 1988. They scored double-digit runs in a game only five times and exceeded yesterday’s 14 only once. And as our own Corinne Landrey pointed out on Twitter, those 14 runs represented a whopping 2.3 percent of their total runs scored in 2013.

The reasons for the lack of offense, of course, are obvious: they were ravaged by injuries to key players (Ryan Howard and Ben Revere most noticeably) and were ill-equipped to replace them, and they also somehow forgot about properly addressing right field.

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Should the Phillies Have Interest in Reuniting with Vance Worley?

Vance Worley. Remember him? The begoggled right-hander who racked up the backwards K’s with reckless abandoned in his 277 2/3 innings with the Phillies from 2010-12? The Phillies sent him to the Minnesota Twins in the Ben Revere trade in December 2012, but the Twins recently outrighted him to Triple-A after he went unclaimed on waivers.

Worley’s star has fallen fast. He posted a 3.01 ERA in 2011 with the Phillies and was the Twins’ Opening Day starter last year, and now he might be starting Opening Day in Rochester of all places. With the Phillies in need of starting pitching — they’re dangerously close to calling on Jeff Manship to join the rotation — Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests that a Worley reunion would not be out of the question. Would it make sense for the Phillies?

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A Look at the Phillies’ Fifth Starter Candidates

The Phillies are set at every position except for the #5 spot in the starting rotation, making it the only interesting battle going on in spring training. After his latest setback, Cole Hamels is unlikely to make his 2014 debut in April. As a result, the Phillies have pushed everyone up in the rotation. Kyle Kendrick is now a #3 and Roberto Hernandez is now a #4, not exactly the plan they had when spring training began in mid-February.

Over the next two weeks, the Phillies will be putting their fifth starter candidates to the test to see who is capable of treading water until Hamels is ready to return. Just who are these mysterious candidates?

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Will Optical Tracking and Catcher Defense Revelations Change Scouting?

It’s been a while since we’ve had our last major, quantifiable or technological advancement in the public baseball sphere. It’s allowed us, certainly me, to become totally comfortable with just about everything presently on the statistical menu, knowing how everything is cooked and what other stats compliment it. I was comfortable, almost bored. Then, this week, two rather significant valuation bombs have been dropped on the baseball world. Continue reading…