Getting Their Pitching On


Thumbnail image for lidge 0523.jpgListen to Charlie Manuel talk about 2008, and at some point he will mention how the pitching got really good the final six weeks of the season.

Almost exactly a year ago today, the Phillies started to turn things around. They had lost 5 of 6 to the Dodgers and Padres as a couple late-inning meltdowns against the Dodgers helped drop them from first place in the National League East.

But the pitching staff went 25-12 with a 3.56 ERA the rest of the way, shaving nearly a half run from their ERA.

Are the Phillies in position for a similar run? Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ continue to pitch well. But can Cole Hamels ever figure out things? He’s 39th out of 48 National League pitchers with a 4.69 ERA. Pedro Martinez, who makes his Phillies home debut tonight against the Diamondbacks, sounds motivated to improve upon Wednesday’s start in Chicago. He’s the fifth starter, so the Phillies don’t have high expectations for him, which is why I say Hamels is the rotation’s biggest question mark.

“I’m not going to say in words, but just try me out there,” Martinez said. “Try me. Give me the opportunity. I pray to God I stay healthy to do those things. I’ve done it before. I don’t know if you know, but I’ve got three Cy Youngs in my house. In the playoffs, I’ve been there. I’ve been there and I’ve won a lot of games, too.”

But the biggest factor in this team’s finish is Brad Lidge. He is 0-5 with a 7.21 ERA and 23 saves in 31 opportunities. He has the highest ERA of any relief pitcher in baseball. His eight blown saves lead the Majors. His 74.2 saves completion percentage is the second lowest in baseball.

Manuel is sticking with him, but you have to wonder if things will change if Lidge is still struggling like he is entering the postseason. The severity of Lidge’s struggles are rare. He had a 1.95 ERA last season. The last relief pitcher to pitch 40 or more innings in consecutive seasons and see his ERA jump at least five runs was Milwaukee’s Derrick Turnbow. He had a 1.74 ERA with the Brewers in 2005, and a 6.89 ERA with the Brewers in 2006.

*

Brett Myers strongly denied his involvement in any physical or verbal altercations early Saturday morning at an Irish pub in Jacksonville, Fla.

Police confirmed that Myers did not injure his left eye at Shannon’s Irish Pub, and that he had no involvement in a physical disturbance that damaged some band equipment. Sgt. Chuck Mulligan, a spokesman for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, also said police have no knowledge that Myers was involved in any verbal confrontations with any patrons.

“Did he say something? I don’t know,” Mulligan said. “It’s not a crime to say something to somebody.”

No police report has been filed, and Mulligan does not expect one to be filed.

“For there to be a crime there must be a victim,” Mulligan said. “There was no victim.”

*

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32 Comments

If you recall, it was this time last year that Campaign Cheer was started from the brilliant minds of WSBGM’s. Just sayin’…

Might be a bit early for the rally towels, eh?!

HOPING, HOPING, HOPING! That Lidge gets his mojo back soon. His body language (and also Hamels) shows some lack of confidence. You can definitely see a difference in his pitches. Last year batters were swing at his deceptive slider/fastball. This year its missing its mark and they’re laying off it for the most part. Its not like these hitters haven’t seem him before. Not sure what other solution Charlie has. Let’s agree for now that Myers is probably not a possibility.

Phan52: I agree. I’ve always liked Myers intensity on the mound. I think he has great energy. However, the dumb *** incident in Florida sets his rehab back a week. We obviously don’t know if he’s able to pitch by the playoffs. It would be awfully nice if he’s able to return to the pen next month.

I don’t know that Myers won’t be a possibility. The issues he had in Floroida have nothing to do with baseball. He’s just a knucklehead and sh*t happens to knuckleheads. As goofy as he is, his pitching IQ is pretty high. The catchers and coaching staff always said that he was always on top of pitch selection, and that’s a good thing when you have 4-5 solid pitches like Myers.

It was just a swollen eye guys. He’ll likely be ready sometime in September and that will be huge for the pen.

We should think of the Phils finishing 18 games over .500 as being mediocre, since they’ve already achieved that this season. For the Phils to make a legitimate run at the 2009 WSC, they will have to be at least 25-28 games over .500. Otherwise, the rest of the season won’t be better than the season upto this point, which will mean that we won’t likely have any momentum going into the playoffs. The exception would be if we have a horrible losing streak, plummeting down to 8-10 games over .500, and rebound to go 10-12 games over .500 to end the season. However it happens we have to be one of the hottest teams entering the playoffs, and I don’t see that happening unless we’re at least 25 games above .500 at the end of the season.

Phylan: if he was on the roster and had gotten a swollen eye you’d be correct. However, since he’s recovering from surgery and we have no idea how he’ll be able to pitch, each day, not to mention week he is setback gives us that much less time to judge his effectiveness before the playoffs. I wouldn’t want to take up a roster spot in Oct on a pitcher who we aren’t sure is capable of pitching like we need.

Ercih: let’s not worry about how many games over .500 we need to be for this or that. Let’s just go out and win ball games and get our pieces together for OCt. We can afford to test different closers (if we need to) or different pitchers in the pen, even at the cost of a game or two. The main goal is to have the roster we want for the playoffs and have each player know their role on the team.

The Phllies can’t afford to experiment and cost themselves games. They are within a couple of games of the Dodgers now (tied in the loss column) and home field is finally in the sights. They need to send out players they know they can trust.
Brett Myers is one of them and they’ll know about Brett Myers long before the end of the season. Just keep winning. They are entering their favorite month.

Phan, we don’t know anything about Myers coming off of surgery. We know that if healthy he can help us. Until he gets in a few innings in the minors, and then a few more in teh Majors we cant be sure of anything. His week long setback means that he may not be ready to throw his first big league pitch until halfway through Sept. That gives us 2 weeks or so to see what he can do in teh majors as apposed to 3+ weeks. Big difference

FIJ, I don’t think any of the other teams in the NL East can catch the Phils at 17 games 0ver .500. Complacency can settle in to a team’s mindset. This is the one thing I fear the most. My point is that the Phils need to strive for something. Trust me, if we’re only 1 game over .500 going into the playoffs, we won’t be winning another WS. 25-28 games over doesn’t guarantee anything either, but it will mean that the Phils have continued to improve and play playoff-level baseball. Todd brought up the point that the Phils made their WSC charge a year ago. I think they have to play that good from now on to get momentum going into the playoffs. Momentum is everything in sports playoff games and series.

Brett’ effectiveness as a closer in ’07 was largely due to his fastball being around 94-95 mph. What’s he throwing now?

It’s been high 80s to low 90s, but with the hip problem I’m sure it was tougher to get the kind of velocity he can usually generate. We really won’t know for sure until his rehab starts. And f_i_j, he was on track to be ready for September before the eye injury, and the eye injury doesn’t change anything. He’ll start his rehab starts soon and every indication is that he’ll be good to go in mid-September.

My confidence meter that Lidge will recover his mojo, is pegged at zero. Expecting him to come back and be the Brad of last year is totally unrealistic. Don’t know what his problem is, would love to see him fix it, but I hope Ruben has a back up plan besides Myers. Today, right now, we don’t have a closer. No closer=no parade.

I agree that the phillies can’t just coast into the post season and that the eye injury isn’t going to effect how Myers pitches. It will, however effect the time table he had set, and that the phillies were depending on. Putting a rehab start offf by a week means you are a week behind. If he was sheduled to pitch on Sept 1 in the big leagues, it’s now Sept 8 and so forth. In short, it was a stupid thing for Myers to have done.

I think that what the phillies should be shooting for is the team record for wins in a season of 101 held by the ’77 and ’78 teams. Since we’re 66-49 we need another 35 wins to break the mark. We’d have to go 35-12 (12 games over 500 or play at a .744 clip) not easy, but if they do it, watch out!!

We apparently have Phillies medical staff and members of their scouting team posting comments on this blog. How else could they know the extent of his injury, his recent velocity or what possible impact his return could have.
How fortunate we are to have such learned baseball people right here at our disposal.

Muleman: LOL! An eye doctor cleared Myers to pitch this weekend in Florida. As for how the hip injury is healing and his velocity, that of course is TBD. We’ll find out after he pitches an inning in Clearwater. (Barring he doesn’t pull a Gerald Ford and trip over his own two feet :-) )

The Phillies have an amazing pitching staff. It’s almost crazy,
- http://tribechick.mlblogs.com/ -TC

muleman obviously we are all contributing to the discussion based on the news we get from Zolecki, other beat writers, analysts, etc. If you want me to premise everything I post with “The following opinion is based on all of the information available to me via the various forms of sports news media” I will but I’d rather you just stop being a giant baby.

Myers has been cleared by doctors (both eye and hip) to pitch. His velocity and recent rehab assignments are a matter of public record. Chollie has spoken publicly about the possible impact he may have upon his return. Glad I could be of help, muleman.

Frankly, I have no expectations for Myers and anything they get is gravy. The guy I am worried about is Romero.

jimmymack, Lidge’s stuff is there. His main barrier is to overcome the doubt that crawls into his mind and manifests itself in his facial expression and body language. Adam Eaton is a zero on anyone’s confidence meter. If you don’t believe that a guy who had one of the greatest seasons in the history of baseball as a closer can return to form and you believe this inspite of the fact that he throws 95 mph and his sliders are still excellent, what you are really saying is that Lidge is incapable of ever locating his pitches and that the guy we see is the guy we will have for the rest of this year and the next. That’s too pessimistic for me.

I was thinking of a thread from way early in the season when we predicted the season stats of players based on where tehy were at that point (I think it was after 30-40 games) well, we’re now after 115 games, or 71% of the season. Here are some interesting numbers for you. Based on performance so far:

name R H D HR RBI SB
Utley 115 170 31 34 107 18
Shane 115 199 42 13 73 25
Howard 103 166 37 42 128
jRoll 103 163 42 21 80 32
Werth 103 151 27 34 99 18
Raul 96 148 35 38 110
Feliz 66 166 28 13 84

Some other interesting notes: Howard is on pace to K “onlu” 197 times, Utley is on pace to be hit by 24 pitches and Werth will K 155 times.

Obviously this is not exact. Howard typically gets hot in Aug/Sept and Raul has gone cold and won’t have numbers over the next 50 games close to those his first 50 games, etc. It is also interesting to note that Feliz, out of the 7th spot is on pace for 84 RBI while scoring 66 runs.

5 players will score 100+ runs, 5 will get 20+HR, and 4 (if we count Werth) will get 100+ RBIs.

No, I’m saying he doesn’t have his “stuff” now and unless a miracle occurs, probably won’t find it again this year. Velocity isn’t the question, his location is. Throw most major league hitters a 95 mph fastball down the pike, they will hit it somewhere. Or lay off a slider that doesn’t look like it’s gonna get a piece of the strike zone. Location and movement have deserted him on his fastball and slider. He may be fine next year, who knows? All I know it ain’t happening now and we don’t have a closer.

The thing that surprises me about Lidge the most is that his fastball doesn’t seem to have any movement on it whatsoever. He is throwing a ball 95 mph straight as an arrow. Even Lopez’s 88 mph fastballs had movement. Can’t Dubee do something about that? Regardless, he has the same pitches this year as he did last year. He had the same pitches last year as he had the year before that. Last year he got a ton of hitters to swing at his slider in the dirt. This year hardly anyone is swinging at it. He is being forced to throw his slider for strikes this year, and unfortunately he has been hanging them most of the time. Baseball is all about making adjustments in order to succeed. The question is : Can Brad Lidge make the necessary adjustments to return to his ’08 form by the end of the season? Charlie thinks he can. So do I.

Het, I’m with you, I hope so also. But if he doesn’t, we need a closer and an option if Myers isn’t the answer. I admire Charlie’s loyalty, but …..

I think Hamels is mentally struggling with the fact that he is suddenly the number four guy, at least as far as performance. In his mind, he came into the season as the number one pitcher, but he has been outperformed by Blanton, Happ, and now Lee. If Pedro throws a gem or two, expect his psyche to take yet another hit. “Hollywood” needs to either pick his game up, or accept that he’s been outperformed, and needs to spend more work perfecting his craft.

Lidge’s fastballs are not exactly “straight as an arrow.” In his last outing, his fastball broke an average of 4 inches horizontally.

phylan, that’s why he got the save last game!

Wow! Not the best way to start pitching at home Pedro!

Pedro recovered nicely but now he’s going to be out of the game if it even continues at all.

Wow. Combined 4 hitter by starter #5 and #5A.

Atta boy Jamie. A great job and a nice win with some swagger.

Thanks Karen. :-)
I’m amused by the “opinions” expressed by commenters as though what they’re saying is gospel. Citing sources is allowed, phylan, because none of us knows more than what we read. Unless we’re citing statistics or expressing an opinion, none of us is on the field or present at workouts. I’ll stop being a “baby” if you’ll stop being a doctor and a scout.

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