Results tagged ‘ bullpen ’
So far they have not.
Sandberg has tried 12 different lineups in 16 games, but the Phillies enter tonight’s series opener against the Braves averaging just 2.56 runs per game, which are the fewest in baseball. They are 30th in batting average with runners in scoring position (.176), 29th in on-base percentage (.270) and 28th in slugging percentage (.323). Sandberg has dropped Ryan Howard from fourth to seventh before moving him to fifth and sixth. Carlos Ruiz (zero home runs, one RBI this season) and Jeff Francoeur have hit cleanup since Howard’s demotion. In fact, if Francoeur hits cleanup tonight he will match Howard for the most appearances in the cleanup spot this season. (Raise your hand if you predicted that one.) Ben Revere has moved from first to eighth to second. Grady Sizemore continues to start about half the team’s games, despite posting a .159 (17-for-107) batting average and .511 OPS since Aug. 8.
Domonic Brown is expected to return from the DL next week. Can the Phillies really keep both left-handed hitting outfielders?
Meanwhile, Chase Utley continues to hit third, despite having the third-lowest batting average (.120) in baseball.
In the end, it probably does not matter what the lineup is. But so far Sandberg has found none of his combinations working.
Sandberg has made some curious moves in the bullpen in recent weeks. He employed Jake Diekman in a double-switch in the sixth inning April 15 in New York, but chose to have Diekman only pitch the sixth. Sandberg said he did not have Diekman start the seventh because he is the only left-hander in the bullpen and he had been pitching a lot lately. He said he wanted to save Diekman in case he needed him the following night. The problem is that he could have used him that night. Dustin McGowan replaced Diekman in the seventh and he allowed a solo homer to left-handed hitter Daniel Murphy, who was the first batter to hit in the inning. The Phillies lost, 6-5.
The Phillies lost the next night, 6-1, and Diekman was never needed.
That move is mentioned because of what happened in yesterday’s 9-1 loss. McGowan made a spot start, knowing he could pitch only three to four innings. He ran into trouble in the third, but the Phillies got nobody up in the bullpen. He then ran out of gas in the fourth, walking the bases loaded with one out. But the Phillies kept him in the game and he served up a two-run single to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead.
At that point the Phillies called in rookie Hector Neris to pitch in that high-leverage situation. Neris pitched one inning for the Phillies last season and just joined the Phillies this week. He promptly hit Marlins pitcher David Phelps with a pitch to reload the bases. Neris then allowed another single to allow two more runs to score to make it 4-0.
The game snowballed from there.
Then, interestingly, Diekman pitched the eighth inning despite having pitched Wednesday and the team trailing 8-0. His appearance stood out because of what Sandberg said last week: it’s important to conserve Diekman because he is the only left-hander in the bullpen. Meanwhile, Jeanmar Gomez, who the team touted as its long man, did not pitch until the ninth.
Gomez could have pitched the final two innings. He also could have tried to clean up McGowan’s mess in the fourth and give the Phillies a couple more innings from there. But Sandberg said he wanted to save his long man for Friday, in case he is needed. Of course, Aaron Harang pitches tonight and he has been the team’s most effective starter through three weeks.
That is twice Sandberg has said he did not use a reliever because he wanted him available for a potential scenario the next day.
“He still remains a length guy for tomorrow,” Sandberg said about Gomez. “To preserve that and have him be our length guy, that’s where he really comes into play for us.”
Perhaps Sandberg has such little faith in the offense’s ability to score that once the Phillies are down a couple runs he figures he might as well prepare for the next day’s game. But managing for the next day and not the game at hand certainly is different. It might not make a difference with this team, but it is worth noting.
During their 7-2 run, the bullpen is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA, allowing 15 hits, three runs, three walks and striking out 32 batters in 25 innings.
But its success goes back further than nine games. It is 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA in 15 games since June 2, allowing 20 hits, five runs, six walks and striking out 46 in 37 1/3 innings. Its ERA, strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.67), strikeouts per nine innings average (11.09) and WHIP (0.70) are best in baseball in that stretch. It also is 4-2 with a 1.94 ERA in 26 games since May 22, allowing 45 hits, 18 runs, 31 walks and striking out 88 78 2/3 innings. It is first in WHIP (0.97), second in ERA and third in strikeouts per nine innings (10.07) in that stretch.
Here is a look at the individual numbers:
- Jonathan Papelbon: He blew his second save of the season Monday in Atlanta, but is 2-0 with a 0.67 ERA and 16 saves in 17 opportunities since he blew his first save April 2 in Texas. He has allowed 16 hits, two runs, seven walks and has struck out 23 in 27 innings since.
- Antonio Bastardo: He has not walked a batter in nine innings this month. In fact, he has allowed just one hit and struck out 10 in those six appearances. He also has a 0.50 ERA in 15 appearances since May 11. He has allowed four hits, one run, nine walks and has struck out 22 in 18 innings in that stretch.
- Jake Diekman: He has a 2.95 ERA in 20 appearances since the end of April.
- Justin De Fratus: He has not allowed a run in 11 appearances since being recalled from Triple-A late last month. He has allowed seven hits, two walks and has struck out 13 in 12 innings.
- Mario Hollands: He has a 2.55 ERA this season, but he has not allowed a run in 14 appearances since May 7. He has allowed seven hits, six walks and has struck out 12 in 12 2/3 innings in that stretch.
- Ken Giles: Since allowing a home run to the first batter he faced in the big leagues, he has allowed one hit, one walk and has struck out six in 3 1/3 scoreless innings.
- Ethan Martin: Has only pitched twice since joining the team, and not once since June 7.
They announced today they have outrighted right-hander Shawn Camp to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Camp, who had a 5.40 ERA in three appearances after allowing four hits and two runs in 1 2/3 innings last night against Toronto, has the option of becoming a free agent.
Right-hander Luis Garcia has been recalled from Lehigh Valley to take Camp’s place.
Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper said last week that Garcia was pitching better than anybody in the Triple-A bullpen, which currently includes three pitchers that opened the season with the Phillies: right-handers Brad Lincoln, Justin De Fratus and B.J. Rosenberg. Right-hander Phillippe Aumont and left-handers Jeremy Horst and Cesar Jimenez also have pitched for the Phillies.
Garcia is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and six saves in 11 appearances with the IronPigs. In 13 2/3 innings, he has allowed nine hits, one unearned run, four walks and has struck out 13.
Garcia had a 3.73 ERA in 24 appearances last season with the Phillies, but he walked 23 and struck out 23 in 31 1/3 innings.
Right-hander Ethan Martin, who could be a bullpen option at some point, made his second rehab appearance Wednesday with Class A Clearwater. He allowed two hits in one inning. He is recovering from right shoulder and triceps capsule strains.
Double-A closer Ken Giles had a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings. He has allowed eight hits, two earned runs, five walks and has struck out 27. Looper said last week that Giles needs to improve his fastball command – he has thrown too many fastball up in the strike zone – as well as improve his slider. Looper said Giles’ next move likely would be to Triple-A, although he offered no timetable for that.
- The Phillies enter tonight tied for second in baseball with six blown saves.
- Their 57.1 save percentage and their 34.5 inherited runners scored percentage each ranked 21st.
- Their 5.07 bullpen ERA ranked 28th.
- The Phillies had lost a lead or a tie in the seventh inning or later 10 times in 27 games, including a one-run lead in the eighth inning in last night’s 5-3 loss to the Nationals. They lost six of those 10 games.
- Their 5.17 ERA in the seventh inning or later is 28th.
- Their 6.33 ERA in the eighth inning is tied for 27th.
Ryne Sandberg will hand the ball to the bullpen at some point, and it is possible he will do it with a small lead or deficit. If the Phillies have a lead, will the bullpen hold it? If they’re down a run or two, will they keep it close to give the offense a chance to come back and win?
It has been a crap shoot all season.
The Phillies bullpen has a 4.84 ERA, which is the highest mark in the National League and the fourth-highest mark in baseball. It has allowed 1.45 home runs per nine innings, which is the highest mark in baseball.
Jonathan Papelbon has 10 scoreless appearances since blowing a save April 2 in Texas. What has hurt the bullpen has been the ineffectiveness of the young pitchers the organization thought had turned a corner. It has been the story the past two seasons. Pitchers like B.J. Rosenberg, Justin De Fratus, Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst, etc., have pitched well late in the season, but haven’t followed up on that success. Jake Diekman, who remains in the bullpen, has been hurt by the long ball. He has allowed three homers this year, helping him to a 7.30 ERA.
As a result just three of the seven pitchers in the bullpen (Antonio Bastardo, Diekman and Mario Hollands) are homegrown. The others (Papelbon, Mike Adams, Shawn Camp and Jeff Manship) signed as free agents or Minor League free agents.
A lack of homegrown production from the bullpen is not a new thing. From 2004-13, the Phillies have had 15 different relief pitchers throw 50 or more innings in a season with less than a 3.50 ERA. Just four of those relievers were homegrown: Ryan Madson, Brett Myers, Geoff Geary and Bastardo. The others the Phillies acquired in trades (Billy Wagner and Brad Lidge), signed as free agents (Clay Condrey, Jose Contreras, Chad Durbin, Tom Gordon, Chan Ho Park, J.C. Romero and Papelbon), claimed off waivers (Aaron Fultz) or selected in the Rule 5 Draft (David Herndon).
But Phillies fans looking for outside help shouldn’t hold their breath. If a team has a good relief pitcher there is almost zero chance they will trade him in May. But there are unsigned relievers still out there like Ryan Madson, Kevin Gregg and Joel Hanrahan, although there has been some buzz around baseball Madson might not pitch again.
“We’ve had contact with all of those guys,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “We’ll see.”
Double-A right-hander Ken Giles is throwing 100 mph and dominating hitters in the Eastern League. He has allowed eight hits, two earned runs, four walks and has struck out 25 in just 13 innings.
“He consistently throws very hard,” assistant general manager of player personnel Benny Looper said. “But there are a couple things he’s working on. One, commanding the fastball low in the strike zone. He’s throwing too many pitches up, belt high, that are hittable in the big leagues. The other thing is commanding his slider. He’s got to have that second pitch. It’s a good pitch and he’s making improvements with it, but he’s got to have a couple pitches he can go to. If big league hitters are sitting on his fastball and it’s thrown belt high they’re going to catch up with it. He’s making great progress. We love his arm and we love where he’s headed. But he’s where he needs to be right now. At some point we’d consider getting him against more veteran lineups like you’d see in Triple-A. That would happen at some point.”
In the meantime, the current relievers need to perform and the ones sent to Triple-A (Rosenerg, De Fratus and Brad Lincoln) need to show enough consistency to warrant a call back.
“It’s trusting their ability because they all have big league talent,” Amaro said. “It’s a matter of putting it together when it’s time to ring the bell.”
Marlon Byrd probably summed up last night’s 9-6 loss to the Braves better than anybody:
“For a fan it’s got to be a great game to watch, entertainment-wise. It sucks for us. We came out on the losing end.”
How it happened is incredible. The Braves carried a 2-1 lead into the eighth inning when B.J. Rosenberg served up home runs to Evan Gattis, Dan Uggla and Andrelton Simmons in succession to make it 5-1. Forty-four times since 1950 a pitcher allowed home runs to the only two batters he faced in a game. But according to Retrosheet, Rosenberg is the first pitcher in 100 years (and likely ever) to allow home runs to the only three batters he faced in a game. Records only go back to 1914, but nobody hit home runs before 1914 and relievers were not what they are today so it’s highly doubtful it happened before that.
The Phillies then scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 6-5 lead.
But then Jake Diekman, trying to close for the first time in his career, loaded the bases in the ninth before he allowed a grand slam to Uggla.
The bullpen started the game with a 4.35 ERA following a strong performance over the weekend against Miami. It left the ballpark with a 5.53 ERA, which is the third-highest bullpen ERA in baseball. Of course, it doesn’t help that Phillies starters can’t pitch past the sixth inning. Just twice in 13 games have they pitched more than six innings. Phillies starters are 22nd in baseball in innings pitched, but are seventh in pitches thrown. In other words, they are hitting the 100-pitch mark fairly regularly in the fifth and sixth innings and can’t go any further. And that exposes the bullpen.
(A MLB-leading 14 errors hasn’t helped, extending innings, too.)
Mike Adams is back in the bullpen beginning tonight, but it remains to be seen how much he help.
Asked this morning about Double-A Reading closer Ken Giles, Ruben Amaro Jr. said on the 94 WIP Morning Show that, “I think we have to think about it.” But Amaro also mentioned how Giles is still learning, how he missed time last season because of injuries and how they need to make sure he can handle the ups and downs of the big leagues first.
“We’re not afraid to bring guys up to the big leagues,” Amaro said.
In six scoreless innings, Giles has allowed one hit and two walks and has struck out 14.
Tony Gwynn Jr. singled and reached second on a throwing error with one out in the third inning, when Jimmy Rollins bunted Gwynn to third. It was a confusing move at best with Gwynn a good runner and already in scoring position. Rollins gave up a precious out to send Chase Utley to the plate, and then Utley struck out to end the inning.
The immediate reaction: Why would Rollins bunt there? No way the Phillies called that from the bench. It made no sense.
“[Rollins] thought there were no outs,” Ryne Sandberg said. “He forgot [Roberto] Hernandez led off the inning. He thought there was no outs. He was just trying to get the guy over from second to third.”
Following four consecutive losses by four or more runs, the Phillies must step into the batter’s box tonight at Citizens Bank Park and try to beat Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, who went 1-0 with a 0.50 ERA in three starts against them last season, striking out 16 batters in 18 innings and holding them to a .359 OPS.
Fernandez has been dominant in his first two starts this year: eight hits, one run, two walks and 17 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings.
If the Phillies can’t crack the Hernandez code they will fall to 3-7. But it’s early, right? I’ve been reminded the 2007 Phillies opened the season 4-11 before winning the National League East. But a few things to remember there: the Phillies needed to finish 13-4 and the Mets needed to finish 5-12 to make it happen. It also took the Phillies until May 16 to get back to .500, and that team had the best offense in the National League and three MVP-caliber players in their prime in Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. This team can’t say that. Perhaps when Cole Hamels returns the Phillies can say they have a formidable 1-2-3 punch atop their rotation, but they still need nights when they can string together a bunch of hits.
Ask Cliff Lee, who has had some of the worst run support in baseball since resigning with the Phillies in Dec. 2010.
The Phillies have hit just .243 with a .317 on-base percentage since they scored 14 runs Opening Day against the Rangers. They have hit just .203 with runners in scoring position in that stretch. But this has been a team effort. In their last four games, the pitching staff has a 5.91 ERA, which doesn’t include the 10 unearned runs they have allowed. The bullpen has allowed 60 percent (6 of 10) of its inherited runners to score this season, which is the second-worst mark in baseball.
I’ve heard countless baseball people say pennants can’t be won in April, but they can be lost. The Phillies entered the season with a very small margin for error. They don’t want to bury themselves too deep too quickly, but a 3-7 start would have them on the way.
You knew the Phillies would not score 14 runs every night — they needed 81 games to reach 10+ runs in a game last season — and if they planned to win they would need to win close games like the one they lost last night.
It is why Ryne Sandberg drilled fundamentals into his players’ heads in Spring Training. It is why they said they valued versatility and defense when they finalized their bench.
The Phillies would need to play soundly to make up for any lack of pop offensively.
Of course, they also would need to pitch well.
It is just two games, but the Phillies bullpen isn’t off to a great start. They have allowed six hits, four runs, six walks and have struck out six in 6 1/3 innings. They have allowed three of six inherited runners to score. (They finished 29th in baseball last season, allowing 36.2 percent of inherited runners to score.) Sandberg already has leaned twice on left-handers Jake Diekman and Antonio Bastardo and right-hander B.J. Rosenberg. He also chose rookie left-hander Mario Hollands to face the top of the Rangers lineup in the bottom of the ninth last night rather than use one of his more experienced right-handers. Hollands, who was making his big league debut, walked two of the three batters he faced (the left-handed Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder) before Rosenberg entered and allowed the game-winning hit to Adrian Beltre.
“I’m just using the guys in the ‘pen,” Sandberg said, asked if he is experimenting to find the best relievers for the best roles. “They’re here for a reason. They’re here to pitch. … It’s not experimenting at all. It’s putting them in the best situations to pitch and be successful.”
Theoretically, Sandberg could have used a righty to face the bottom of the lineup in the eighth and have Bastardo pitch against the top of the lineup in the ninth, but he said he wanted his best reliever (other than closer Jonathan Papelbon) to keep the game tied with a chance to win in the ninth.
“Bastardo is our eighth-inning guy,” Sandberg said.
Rosenberg has allowed three of four inherited runners to score in his first two appearances. Brad Lincoln, who was a lock to make the bullpen before Spring Training opened in February, and Justin De Fratus are still looking for their first action.
“Coming out of Spring Training, he was throwing the best, as far as throwing strikes and doing the job as a seventh- or eighth-inning right-hander pitcher,” Sandberg said of Rosenberg.
Relievers are going to blow leads and blow games. It happens in every bullpen. But the margin for error for the Phillies is small. They will need an effective bullpen to have a chance this season. This isn’t the start they wanted.
Everybody could use a break.
They have lost 19 of 23 as the ridiculously white-hot Dodgers roll into town. The Dodgers were 30-42 and last in the National League West on June 21. They are 40-8 (.833) since, which is easily the best record in baseball. The Phillies were 49-48 and second in the NL East on July 19, but are 4-19 (.170) since for easily the worst record in baseball. I know anything can happen any night at the ball yard, but this could be a really ugly weekend.
A couple things from yesterday:
Ruben Amaro Jr. spoke about next season’s potentially left-handed heavy lineup and the organization’s string of misses the past few years with free agent relief pitchers.
Roy Halladay made his first rehab start yesterday in Clearwater.
The Phillies tied last night’s game against the Twins in the top of the eighth inning at Target Field only to have Mike Adams and Antonio Bastardo allow the game-winning run to score in the bottom half of the inning.
We’ve seen plenty of performances like this from the bullpen this year.
Back in February, when the Phillies opened spring training in Clearwater, they thought the bullpen could be a position of strength. The bullpen had a 2.84 ERA the final two months last season, so they figured with the additions of Adams and Chad Durbin to a group that included Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo and a host of talented young pitchers, they would continue to take a step forward. But the bullpen has taken a big step back. Its 4.48 ERA is the third-worst in baseball. It has allowed 42.9 percent of its inherited runners to score, which is the worst in baseball. Its 1.46 WHIP is second-worst.
Let’s take a look at the stable of relievers, and how they have fared:
- Jonathan Papelbon. He is being paid a fortune to close, but he is doing the job. He is 11-for-11 in save opportunities with a 1.59 ERA, but you’ve got to think the Phillies will try to move him if they decide to sell before the July 31 trade deadline. It doesn’t make much sense to have a high-priced closer on a rebuilding team.
- Mike Adams. The Phillies signed him to a two-year, $12 million contract in December, acknowledging it carried risk following TOC surgery in October. Adams’ stuff hasn’t been the same and he has had problems staying healthy. He is 1-4 with a 4.22 ERA with a 7.11 ERA since coming off the DL May 26.
- Antonio Bastardo. He has a 2.42 ERA in 27 appearances, but a 1.478 WHIP and is averaging 5.6 walks per nine innings. He also is striking out fewer batters than he has in the past. Bastardo always seems to be in trouble. Maybe that explains why he has entered a game with runners on base just three times. He has allowed two of four inherited runners to score, including one last night.
- Chad Durbin. Released. He had a 9.00 ERA in 16 appearances.
- Phillippe Aumont. Manuel specifically mentioned Aumont last night when asked about the bullpen’s struggles. He said everybody expected him to take a step forward this year. But he had an alarming 2.077 WHIP, averaging 6.9 walks per nine innings before he got sent to Triple-A last month. In eight appearances with the IronPigs, he has an 8.59 ERA and has walked 12 batters in 7 1/3 innings.
- Jeremy Horst. He is second on the team with 26 appearances, but has a 5.55 ERA. That kind of sums up the bullpen’s struggles right there.
- Raul Valdes. The Phillies sent him to Triple-A after posting a 7.65 ERA in 10 appearances.
- Mike Stutes. He has had good results since coming up from Triple-A, carrying a 1.80 ERA in eight appearances. He has walked just one batter in 10 innings.
- Justin De Fratus. The Phillies wanted him to open the season with the team, but they didn’t think his arm was where it needed to be. De Fratus has a 1.80 ERA and a fantastic 0.800 WHIP in 13 appearances. You wonder if he could move into Adams’ role if Adams continues to struggle. He has the coaching staff’s trust.
- B.J. Rosenberg. Ruben Amaro Jr. called up Rosenberg on May 17 to replace Valdes, saying he was throwing the best and he had a big arm that could strike out people. But Rosenberg posted a 12.00 ERA in three appearances, following a 6.12 ERA in 22 appearances last season. Rosenberg throws hard, but he hasn’t proven he can get hitters out on a consistent basis.
- Joe Savery. He has been with the team three times this season after throwing the ball well in Triple-A. But he has only pitched twice with the Phillies.
- Jake Diekman. He has not pitched with the Phillies this season, but I include him here because they raved about his arm and upside, and with the struggles of Horst and Valdes he could have been called up at some point, except he can’t throw strikes. He has a 5.70 ERA and has walked 24 batters in 30 innings in 30 appearances with Lehigh Valley.