Phillies Need Some Patience
Did you watch Game 1 of the NLCS yesterday?
I don’t blame you if you didn’t. I think most Phillies fans are still in shock the Cardinals beat the Phillies on Friday night. But if you watched the game you might have noticed quality at-bats from both teams. The Brewers and Cardinals worked their respective pitchers. They worked counts. Skip Schumaker‘s 10-pitch at-bat against Roy Halladay in the first inning in Game 5 on Friday is exactly the type of thing the Phillies didn’t do against the Cardinals, or against the Giants in last year’s NLCS. The Phillies have some holes to fill this offseason and it won’t be easy, but it would behoove them to find a hitter (or more) that can work a count and get on base.
Of the four teams in the NLDS, the Phillies ranked last in pitches per plate appearance, and it wasn’t even close:
- Diamondbacks: 3.97
- Cardinals: 3.67
- Brewers: 3.58
- Phillies: 3.48
That doesn’t seem like much of a difference, but consider the Diamondbacks saw 766 pitches in 193 plate appearances. If the Phillies would have had 193 plate appearancs they would have seen only 672 pitches. That’s 94 fewer pitches over the course of a five-game series.
That’s almost a game’s worth of pitches.
I know, small sample size, right? But the Phillies ranked eighth in the National League this season, averaging 3.80 PPA. That’s their lowest average since 2001, when it was 3.76. I don’t think it’s a complete coincidence the Phillies’ .323 on-base percentage was their worst since 1997, when it was .322. You can’t walk if you’re swinging early in the count nearly every time you step into the batter’s box. (And this isn’t a Ryan Howard problem, either. He averaged 4.13 PPA this season, which ranked fourth in the league.) Grind out a few at-bats against Chris Carpenter on Friday and maybe he tires a little. Maybe he slips up. Maybe he elevates a pitch in the strike zone. But that didn’t happen so we’ll never know.