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.


The Many Sides of Pulling Aaron Nola Early

There has been a lot written and said angrily about Gabe Kapler pulling Aaron Nola after 68 pitches in the 6th inning of Opening Day against the Braves. I took a side yesterday, it turned out to not be the reason the Phillies used, and of course the bullpen gave up a bunch of runs and blew the game. So rather than give a single side, I am going to look at all the various parts of the decision.

Rest Nola, It Is Game 1 of 162

This was my initial gut feeling on the move. Aaron Nola threw in the high 60 pitches in his last spring training start, he could have gone probably into the low 80s, but he wasn’t going for a long outing. At the time of the move, there was a man on base and the Phillies were up 5-0. The information at the time was that the Phillies had 9 pitchers in the bullpen (we later learned Pat Neshek was injured), which should be fine for getting 11 outs (at least that is the theory). So overall the thought here is that Nola pitched less than 170 innings last year, and with the Phillies’ emphasis on rest and keeping their pitchers healthy, this game presented an opportunity to get out of it with a sub 70 pitch outing from Nola to have him well rested for his next start and the rest of the season.

Third Time Through the Order Plus Two Lefties Could be a Problem for Aaron Nola

.315/.381/.455 Continue reading…

Crashburn Alley’s 2018 Predictions

The 2018 season kicks off today. The Phillies have high expectations relative the past few years, but they aren’t the only team with high expectations. Once again the members of the Crashburn Alley staff has put together their predictions for standings, awards and other things.

Participating this year:

  • Matt Winkelman
  • Brad Engler
  • Adam Dembowitz
  • Michael Schickling
  • Colbert Root
  • Liam Murphy
  • Jack Merlino

Continue reading…

In Signing Scott Kingery the Phillies Show the Complicated Process of Building a Young Core

On Sunday, the Phillies announced both that Scott Kingery would be on the opening day roster and that they had agreed to a 6 year deal with 3 options years. There is a lot going on in that statement, both for the Phillies and Scott as baseball entities, and for the two of them as financial entities.

It is probably best to start with the ugly part first, the financial aspect of this contract. For the Phillies, they guarantee Kingery the most money ever to a player with no MLB service time and a contract that is at least market compared to other early pre-arb contracts. In theory, the Phillies are taking on a lot of risk here. Kingery has some flaws, flaws that are why he is a good, but not top in the game prospect. The problem is there is no actual risk. The Phillies are paying $8M in the 6th year of this deal, which is a tiny bit of money in relation to their overall revenues and not a huge overpay if Kingery is just a solid utility bench player by that point in his contract. Kingery’s profile plays well into this as well. He is a good defender with great speed, and a good feel for contact. On its own, he is a fine utility infielder. His question marks are in his power and on base abilities. He has answered a lot of questions about whether his power is at least average, but the questions on his approach still remain. He does not have a long track record of struggle, he just lacks the upper minor league track record of success (it is a small sample size when talking about walk and strikeouts rates). The Phillies take on very little risk here, and the upside of this deal is that they just locked up an All-Star caliber player for his entire prime, for less than $7M AAV over the course of the 9 years of the deal. Continue reading…

Remembering Cameron Rupp

In a move clearly intended to dominate headlines, the Phillies moved right-handed pitcher Drew Hutchison to their 40-man roster, likely guaranteeing him a spot in the Opening Day bullpen. To make room, catcher Cameron Rupp was designated for assignment, ending his tenure as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Rupp, in a way, never stood a chance. That sentiment holds true no matter what context you look at it in, be it filling Chooch’s shoes in the eyes of the fanbase, trying to hold off two far-sexier prospects in Jorge Alfaro & Andrew Knapp, or trying to hit a pitcher who throws a decent fastball.
Originally drafted by the Phillies in the 3rd round out of the University of Texas, Rupp was never considered much of a prospect. Touted as a defense-first catcher who could hit enough to hold a backup job, Rupp failed to crack most top-prospect lists, constantly being overshadowed by the likes of Sebastian Valle, Gabriel Lino, and Deivi Grullon. By the time catchers like Knapp and Alfaro were added to the system, he could kiss his childhood dream of being in the Philadelphia Phillies top-30 prospect list goodbye. Continue reading…

Nick Williams: A Comparison, and What Should We Expect?

I’ll be completely honest right from the beginning; I love Nick Williams.

When he was announced in the Cole Hamels trade, my heart leapt in my chest and I envisioned a Phillies lineup with Williams batting 3rd or 5th, a left-handed outfielder with tools who could be an anchor to the tune of 25 home runs, 80 RBIs, and a .290 batting average, and who could play sound defense.  Maybe he’d even chip in a double-digit amount of stolen bases.  Basically (at the risk of nauseating you readers), he’d be what Dom Brown was supposed to be.

When I saw him in person for the first time later that summer, the Reading Phillies were in Trenton to play the Thunder.  Mid-way through the game, Williams hit a laser – and I mean this thing was on a frozen rope – off the centerfield wall for a triple.  My expectations were gratified.  The Phils had their lefty outfield slugger waiting in the wings; we’d finally see a player of a caliber that had largely gone missing since Raul Ibanez left. Continue reading…

Crash Bag #5: Investing in Prospects

Did you know the Phillies signed Jake Arrieta this week, because they did. It means there are no questions this week about whether the Phillies should sign Jake Arrieta. Instead this week I go on a tangent about paying minor leaguers. Also look for exciting site developments next week.

@andrew_pantano: What would be the first steps to creating a fair-pay minor league system?

Before getting into logistics, I want to make a few things clear. Minor leaguers are only paid during the season so no offseason or spring training. Minor leaguers are not subject to minimum wage laws. The salaries of minor leaguers are paid by the major league club and not the minor league team. College baseball rarely give out full scholarships due to limits on number of scholarships per team. Continue reading…