Roberto Hernandez allowed four runs (three earned) over five innings in last night’s start against the Brewers. Not a great start, not a bad start. Considering last night’s bullpen implosion in the eighth and ninth innings, Hernandez’s performance was about the ninth- or tenth-most interesting thing about the game. But broadcaster Tom McCarthy pointed out something after Hernandez had exited the game that made me go back and listen to make sure I heard it right:
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:
No caption necessary.
Updated with ISO heat map:
Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun entered yesterday’s game with absurd career numbers against the Phillies. His 1.120 OPS against them in in 186 plate appearances was his highest against any team against which he has accrued at least 30 PA. The whole line: .386/.430/.690, 66 H, 8 2B, 1 3B, 14 HR, 30 RBI, 6 SB, 14 BB, 30 K.
Against yesterday’s starter, Kyle Kendrick, Braun entered with a career .944 OPS in 18 trips to the plate. I wonder what happened.
Good news, everyone! CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Cole Hamels “feels great” and could need only two more rehab starts before returning to the team. The Inquirer’s Matt Gelb says Hamels is shooting for April 22 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Hamels has been rehabbing after missing spring training with tendonitis in his left shoulder.
Throughout the spring, we were subjected to the competition between David Buchanan and Jeff Manship for the fifth spot in the Phillies’ rotation – organizational depth against, well, a guy with a career 6.29 ERA. To their credit, both pitched well in a small sample size. Buchanan finished with a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings, while Manship posted a 1.80 ERA in 20 innings.
The Phillies initially expected to need a fifth starter on Sunday, April 13. Based on the way the off-days were situated, the Phillies could have skated through the first two weeks with a four-man rotation. However, because Monday’s home opener was postponed and rescheduled to Tuesday, the Phillies will need a fifth starter six days earlier than expected.
The year-long Derek Jeter farewell tour is under way. Yankees fans got to see him at home for the first time during the 2014 regular season yesterday against the Orioles. Jeter almost gave them a storybook day, lining a Ubaldo Jimenez offering down the left field line. Everyone — the fans, the YES Network broadcasters, and even Jeter himself — thought he had a home run, but the ball caromed off of the top of the wall and Jeter dove head-first into second base for a double.
With six games in the books, the Phillies are now merely 3.2% of the way through the 2014 baseball season and everything that has occurred thus far falls under “small sample size” caveats. Although we are largely unable to extrapolate meaningful data and trends from what we’ve seen the Phillies do this past week, what we can do is savor the game that has mercifully returned to our television sets for our regular 7:05 (or 8:05 or 2:20) appointments. The return of Phillies baseball brought enjoyable moments including Jimmy Rollins’ opening day slam and a superb start by Kyle Kendrick, but the most impressive achievement was the display Chase Utley put on this week for Philadelphia fans desperate for meaningful baseball after an impossibly long and snowy winter.
I promise the bullpen-management posts won’t be so frequent going forward, but this issue is a bit perplexing.
During the off-season, GM Ruben Amaro traded back-up catcher Erik Kratz and Minor League pitcher Rob Rasmussen (acquired from the Dodgers in the Michael Young trade) to the Toronto Blue Jays for reliever Brad Lincoln. The Jays had acquired Lincoln in July 2012 for Travis Snider, but Lincoln struggled with command in his 60 1/3 innings in Toronto, walking 11.4 percent of batters.
The acquisition was one of the few in recent history that indicated the Phillies were buying low as opposed to buying high. Lincoln cost the team next to nothing — back-up catchers and minor league Quad-A type pitchers are as fungible as they come — but he still has the upside to evolve into a future set-up man or closer with a few minor alterations.