Larry Bowa – Bench Coach
Steve Henderson – Hitting Coach
John Mizerock – Assistant Hitting Coach
Bob McClure – Pitching Coach
Juan Samuel – First Base Coach
Pete Mackanin – Third Base Coach
Rod Nichols – Bullpen Coach
Jesus Tiamo – Bullpen Catcher
Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick, Roberto Hernandez (Cole Hamels (late April)) – Starters
Justin De Fratus, B.J. Rosenberg, Jake Diekman, Mario Hollands, Brad Lincoln, Jeff Manship, Antonio Bastardo, Jonathan Papelbon (Closer) – Bullpen
Carlos Ruiz, Wil Nieves (Backup) – Catchers
Ryan Howard (1st), Chase Utley (2nd), Cody Asche (3rd), Jimmy Rollins (Shortstop), Cesar Hernandez (Utility), Jayson Nix (Utility) – Infielders
Dom Brown (Left Field), Ben Revere (Center Field), Marlon Byrd (Right Field), John Mayberry, Jr. (Utility), Tony Gwynn, Jr. (Utility) – Outfielders
During the off-season, after the Phils had picked up Cliff Lee via free agency, everyone in the country were talking about the Phils four aces (Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels), while also thinking that the Phils would likely trade away Joe Blanton (they didn’t), although the other four would come out to support the fifth member of the starting rotation during spring training, but the pleasant surprise during the first nine games of the season has been the performance of the bullpen, who have been rather stingy with both the hits and the runs.
Roy Halladay, the staff ace, have had two good starts, having a record of 1-0, as he has gone 13 innings, giving up only one earned run on eleven hits and one walk, while he has struck out 13, for an ERA of 0.69 and a WHIP of 0.92.
Cliff Lee, the present no. two man, has also pitched two games, a spectacular start against the Astros, and a start against the Braves where he lost his control. His record is now 1-1, as he has pitched ten and a third innings, giving up nine earned runs on fourteen hits and a walk, while he has also hit two batters, as he has struck out fourteen, for the team lead, for an ERA of 7.84 and a WHIP of 1.45.
Roy Oswalt, the no. three man, have had two good outings for a 2-0 record, making him the present team leader in wins. He has pitched twelve innings, giving up four runs, of which three were earned, on ten hits and three walks, while also hitting a batter, while he has struck out eight, for a 2.25 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.08.
The team’s no. four starter, Cole Hamels, in his two start, had a bad start against the Mets, before bouncing back against the Braves this past Sunday. His record is now 1-1, as he has gone nine and two-thirds innings, giving up six runs on eleven hits and three walks, and one hit batter, while he had struck out eleven, for a 5.59 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP.
Joe Blanton, the team’s fifth starter, will be making his second start of the season tonight, after having been taken out of his opening start, as he allowed his pitches to come up against the Mets in the fifth inning. His record is 0-0, as he looks for his first win or lost, as he had so far gone four and one-thirds innings, giving up seven runs on ten hits and two walks, while hitting a batter, while he has struck out six, for a high ERA of 14.54 and a WHIP of 2.77, both presently highs among the starters. He hopes to bring both down during his start against the Nationals.
So far, the five starters have a combine record of 5-2, as they have pitched 49.1 innings, giving up 27 runs, of which 26 were earned, on 56 hits and 10 walks, while hitting a total of 5 batters, while striking out 52 batters. They have also given up all three of the home runs allowed by the Phils’ pitchers (Oswalt, Lee and Blanton with one each).
Meantime, the bullpen has shown itself to be better than expected, as they have allowed only six runs, only five of which were earned, and one inherited runner to score, in their combine total of 30.2 innings.
Their long man, Kyle Kendrick, has appeared in three games, with a 0-0 record, as he has given up a run on four hits and three walks, while striking out a batter in five innings of work, for a 1.80 ERA.
Antonio Bastardo has been on fire as he has appeared in three games, with a 1-0 record, as he has so far given up no runs in four and two-thirds innings, giving up only two hits, while striking out nine batters, for an ERA of 0.00.
The Phils’ other lefty in their bullpen, J.C. Romero, appeared to have regain his 2008 form as he has pitched in five games, for an 0-0 record, as he has given up a run on three hits and a walk in four innings, while he has strucked out three, for a 2.25 ERA.
After having a bad year in 2010, Danys Baez seems to have recovered nicely this year, as he has appeared in five games, for a record of 1-0, as he has given up an unearned run on six hits and a walk, as he pitched a total of five innings, while striking out two, for an 0.00 ERA.
Second year man David Herndon is the only reliever who doesn’t seem to be pitching well in the early going, as he has pitched in five games, for an 0-0 record, going six innings, as he has given up three runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out a batter, for a 4.50 ERA.
The Phils’ eighth inning pitcher, Ryan Madson, is doing well, as he had an 0-0 record, as he has pitched in three games for a total of three innings, giving up no runs on a hit, while he has struck out four, for an 0.00 ERA.
Their present closer, Jose Contreras. has been lights out, as he has appeared in three game, for an 0-0 record while converting both of his save opportunities, as he has gone three innings, giving up no runs on two hits and a walk, while he has struck out four, for an 0.00 ERA.
The bullpen has appeared in all nine games, for an 2-0 record, as they have given up a total of 23 hits and 8 walks, while striking out 24 batters. The good work of the bullpen help give the Phils a team ERA of 3.49 while the team’s WHIP is at 1.21. If this continues, especially once the starters have hit their stride, this could become a very dangerous team, even if the offense has its mid-season slump, as the pitching should keep them within striking distant during most games.
Since the last time I’d written something here, the Phils have come to terms with both Ben Francisco (January 15) for one year for $1.175 million dollars with performance bonuses and with Kyle Kendrick (January 18) for $2.45 million, also for one year, to avoid arbitration with both players, thus having all of their players signed up for at least one season. Last season, 2010, in 88 games (28 of which were starts), Francisco batted .268 (48 for 179), as he hit thirteen doubles and six home runs and knocked in 28 RBIs. He also went .282 pinch hitting (11-39), hitting three doubles and knocking in 7 RBIs. This season, Francisco will be used in a platoon with Dom Brown in right field to replace Jayson Werth, who had during the off-season signed a long term contract with the Washington Nationals. Meanwhile, Kendrick last season pitched in 33 games (a career-high), 31 of which were starts, as he went 11-10 with an ERA of 4.73, as he pitched in 180.2 innings and struck out 84 batters (both career highs) while walking 49, who, depending on what the team might do, will either be their long man coming out of the bullpen, or fighting for the fifth starter spot with Vance Worley.
As the Phils prepare for the start of spring training next month in Clearwater, Florida, they are looking at their options, thanks to their present embarrassment of riches with their starting pitching staff, which at the moment consists of Roy Halladay (Ace), Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt (who at the moment are being nicknamed either the Four Aces, R2C2 or the Fantastic Four by the fans) and Joe Blanton, as they decide whether they really need to trade Kentucky Joe to another team that needs a good starter to help give them some salary flexibility, or to just keep Joe, and use him as their fifth starter, knowing that he so far have had a good track record pitching for the Phils during the two plus seasons since they’d gotten him from the Oakland A’s to help them down the stretch towards their 2008 World Series Championship. My opinion is that they should hang onto Blanton, unless he brings in a good righthanded bat that’ll help the team in the line-up. Either way, he would be helping the team, especially as the fifth starter, since he is presently seen as a good third or fourth starter on most teams.
Lastly, Charlie Manuel’s contract is coming up this season. Although it is more than likely that the Phils will give him an extension, Charlie had announced on WIP radio yesterday, when asked about it, that he would like a three year contract, and prefer that he signed the contract extension as soon as possible so that it won’t become a distraction for the ballclub during the season, although he does see himself as signing a contract at some point this season. Me, sign him up as soon as possible Ruben. Uncle Chuck seems to know what he’s doing with the players, and we all know that they like playing for him.
During the 2 pm progress report on Chase Utley’s right hip, Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro announced that the Phillies have re-signed veteran pitcher Jamie Moyer to a new two-year contract. The 22 years veteran went 16-7 for the Phils in 33 starts, with a 3.71 ERA in 2008, being the team leader in wins. In a two plus month period, from June 6 to August 21, he would give up three earned runs or less to opposing team. The soon to be 47 years old, has a record of 246-185 in 637 games (548 starts) with a 4.19 ERA, tied for 47th place on the all-time Major League wins list, while being presently third among active starters, with the recent retirement of Mike Mussina of the Yankees and Greg Maddux of the Padres/Dodgers. Since joining the Phillies in mid-2006, he has gone 35-21 with a 4.33 ERA in 74 starts, with the team going 46-28 (.622) in his starts, while pitching the divisional pennant clinchers in both 2007 and 2008, and having a good start in Game 3 of the World Series which the Phillies would win in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the ninth.
Moyer’s re-signing means that the first four spots in the Phils’ starting rotation (Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Joe Blanton, Moyer) is now set, with the fifth and final spot now being an audition between Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ, prospect Carlos Carrasco and Chan Ho Park. Whether the Phils will continue to go after free agent Derek Lowe after signing Moyer and Park is a good question, especially when they should be looking out for a right handed power bat to help counter balance their recent signing of Raul Ibanez, and the obvious departure of Pat Burrell, to counter the presently loaded left-handed power of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. But such a signing would serve notice to the rest of the National League East, after the Mets’ signing of free agent closer Francisco Rodriguez and their trade with Cleveland for J.J. Putz to be Rodriguez’s set-up man to better their weak bullpen, that the Phillies will be looking to repeat as the National League Champions with a very strong starting rotation.
Now, let’s see how the Phillies did pitching wise, both individually and as a team. First, let’s look at the entire pitching staff as a whole.
In 2008, in 162 games, the Phillies pitchers would win 92 games and would lose 70 for a winning percentage of .568. The overall staff ERA would be 3.88, fourth best in the league. The starters would finish four games, which would tie them for fifth in the league, along with the Houston Astros and the San Francisco Giants. The team would pitch eleven shut outs, tying them for fourth in the NL with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The relief corps would end up saving 47 games, for second place, out of a total of 62 save opportunities, tying them for sixth with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The pitching staff would pitch a total of 1449 and 2/3 innings (seventh), during which they would give up 1444 hits (eight worst), allow only 680 runners to score (14th worst), of which only 625 of those runs would be earned (13th worst). They would be hit for 160 home runs, tying them for tenth worst in that category with the Chicago Cubs. They would hit a total of 57 batters (seventh worst). The staff would strike out 1081 batters (11th), while walking only 533 (11th), of which 64 would be intentional (third), striking out 2.03 batters for every one that they would walk (seventh). The pitching staff would walk on average 3.31 batters per game (BB/9) (sixth), while striking out 6.71 batters per game (K/9) (12th worst). They would give up on average only 8.96 hits per game (H9) (ninth). They gave up a total of 2280 total bases, tying them for eighth with the San Diego Padres. They would give up only two balks during the entire year, tying them for second in that category with the Diamondbacks. They gave up only 34 wild pitches (second best). They allowed 109 stolen bases (fifth), while helping to catch 34 runners (ninth) and picking off 8 more, tying them for sixth with the Atlanta Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers. They would get 1718 batters out via ground outs (seventh) and get out 1465 more via fly outs (tenth) with a GO/AO ratio of 1.26 (seventh). The staff’s WHIP (Walks plus Hits/Innings Pitched) is 1.36, tied for fifth with the Astros. Opponents are batting .260 (eighth) against the pitching staff, while its SLG (Slugging Percentage Allowed) is .410 (ninth), and its OBA (On-Base Percentage Allowed) is .329 (sixth). The staff has faced(PA) 6229 batters (11th worst), throwing to them (NP) a total of 23,498 pitches (12th worst), throwing 16.21 pitches per inning pitched (P/IP) (fifth). The relief corps would successfully hold the lead 79 times, tying them for fourth with the Astros.
The pitching staff, thanks mainly to the bullpen, but also to a starting rotation that got its act together towards the end of the season, would place itself among the best in team ERA, while placing itself either among the leaders or in the middle of the pack in most pitching categories, including saves, shut outs, complete games, innings pitched, fewest runs allowed and earned runs, fewest wild pitches thrown, fewest hit batters, most batters struck out per nine innings and least batters walked per nine innings, lowest opponents’ batting average, fewest home runs given up and most leads held. After starting the season with a lot of question marks, especially around the relief corps, the team’s pitchers would end up being among the National League elite staffs.
Now individually, the team’s starting ace, Cole Hamels would find himself among the league leaders in wins with 14 (T-15th), innings pitched with 227.1 (second), games started with 33 (T-ninth), earned run average with 3.09 (T-fifth), strikouts with 196 (sixth), complete games with 2 (T-sixth) and shut outs with 2 (T-third). Jamie Moyer is among the league leaders in win with 16 (T-seventh), earned run average with .371 (T-15th) and game started with 33 (T-ninth). Brett Myers is among the leaders in strike outs with 163 (T-17th), complete games with two (T-sixth) and shut outs with 1 (T-seventh). Brad Lidge is among the league leaders in saves with 41 (T-second). J.C. Romero is among the league leaders in games pitched with 81 (T-fifth) as is Ryan Madson with 76 (T-ninth).
The stats show that this year, although he didn’t lead the team in wins, thanks to the offense at time not giving him a lot of runs, Cole Hamels was the team’s ace as he lead the team in most other categories. The stats also shown that getting Brad Lidge has provided the Phillies’ relief corps with a nail down closer. If a team can shut down the Rays’ bats during the World Series, the Phillies should be the team to do it.
The Phillies (83-67) go to Atlanta for the start of their last road trip to the South as they face the fourth place Braves (67-83), who are now in a role they have not been in since the late ’80s, that of spolier. The Phillies, thank to the Nationals’ defeat of the Mets last night, are now just a half game out of first in the East as well as tied for the Wild Card lead with the Brewers, who yesterday have fired their manager Ned Yost and have replaced him with third base coach Dale Sveum. The three games series will be played at Turner Field and the first game of the series will start there tonight at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies will start this important series with their ageless veteran Jamie Moyer (14-7, 3.68) on the mound, who is coming off a win against Milwaukee on September 11, where he would pitch five and two-thirds innings, giving up only three earned runs on four scattered hits, in the Phillies’ 6-3 win. Moyer has won four of his last six starts, with the Phils going 1-1 in his two no-decisions. He has given up three runs or less in seventeen of his last eighteen starts. He will be going for his team leading fifteenth victory while trying to put the Phillies on the winning track for the last leg of the pennant race. The Braves will counter with the rookie James Parr (1-0, 0.00), who is coming off a no-decision in his second career start against the Rockies on September 10, going six innings, giving up no earned runs on five hits, in the Braves’ 9-5 win. He will be trying for his second career win in three starts and hoping that the Phillies’ bat will be unable to score on him, since this will be the first time that he will face them.
The Phillies’ offense seems to have come alive this past weekend, with Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard seeming to have returned to their September 2007 forms to lead the offensive attack. Pat Burrell also appears to finally be breaking out of his slump. If the offense can stay hot during the next twelve games and the starters can continue to pitch the way they have pitched for the last several weeks, the Phillies should have no problem grabbing either the Eastern Division or the Wild Card at the end of the month. Everything just now depends on the Phillies taking care of business.
The Phillies are now trailing the Mets by a half game in the East as they continue their four games series with the Nationals. The Phillies are now ahead of the Marlins by five and a half games as the fish prepare for their three games series with the Astros. In the Wild Card chase, the Phillies are tied with the slumping Brewers for the lead in the wild card as the Brewers prepare for an important three games series with the Central Division leading Cubs. Both the Phillies and the Brewers are now two and a half games ahead of the Astros as they prepare to visit the Marlins, and are now four and a half games ahead of the Cardinals, who are preparing to play a three games series with the Reds. The Phillies are right now in the driver seat, determing whether they will be the winner in the Eastern Division or the winner of the Wild Card. Either way, Go PHILLIES!!!!
The Phillies (68-58) will conclude their three games home stand with the luckless Nationals (44-83) as they look to sweep the Nats. The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park and will begin at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be veteran pitcher Jamie Moyer (11-7, 3.64), who is coming off a gem of a start against the Padres on August 15 as he outduel fellow 1984 Draftie Greg Maddux. Moyer would pitch seven shut out innings, giving up only three hits, in the Phillies’ 1-0 win. In his last start against the Nationals on July 30, he would pick up the win as he pitched six innings, giving up only three earned runs on six hits, in the Phillies’ 8-5 win. He will be going for his twelfth win of the year, while also going for his fourteenth straight start where he has given up three runs or less. The Nationals will counter with Tim Redding (8-8, 4.66), who is coming off a hard luck lost to the Rockies on August 15, where he went six innings, giving up four earned runs on seven hits, in the Nats’ 4-3 lost. In his last start against the Phillies on July 30, the Phillies would finally get to him, as they knocked in seven earned runs on ten hits as he would only be able to go four innings plus five batters, in the Nationals’ 8-5 lost. He will be trying to stop a personal two games losing streak while trying to stop the Nationals’ team losing streak at twelve games.
The Phillies are still waiting for the offense to wake up and get hot to go along with their much more solid looking starting pitching and their stellar bullpen. Although it got more hits in last night’s game than it did during most of the road trip to the West Coast, and the hits were spread around between both the top and bottom part of the line-up, the fact remains that the bats haven’t busted a game wide open in quite a while. Meanwhile, the starting pitching is coming along, as Brett Myers has rediscovered his grove, Jamie Moyer continue to confound hitters and Cole Hamels, in spite of two bad outings in July, remains the team’s ace, eating up the innings while striking out batters. Once Kyle Kendrick has decided to stop being timid and make hitters hit ground balls again and Joe Blanton goes back to eating up innings, the rotation will hopefully become one of the best in the league, something that is going to be needed in what is presently a three teams pennant race in the East, which could end up being a two teams race if the Marlins continue to go southward.
The Phillies enter tonight’s game still a game and a half behind the Mets, who are looking to sweep the fading Braves. They are ahead of the Marlins by three and a half games, although the Marlins are presently tied with the Giants in an afternoon game on the coast. The Phillies will be looking to either stay close or get closer to the Mets after tonight’s game, while preparing to get even with the Dodgers for last week’s fiasco in LA.