Results tagged ‘ Starters ’

2014 Philadelphia Phillies (for the moment)

Philadelphia_PhilliesRyne Sandberg – Manager

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

With Phils pitching, the bullpen has become a complete surprise…

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).

Relief corps:

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.

Recent News…

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.

Well, Jamie has finally re-signed with the Phillies, and for two years. What was the hold up, Ruben?

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.

More by the numbers: Phillies’ Pitching.

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.

Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 12: Going to Atlanta, looking at both the East and the Wild Card.

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!!!!

Preparing for a sweep of the Nationals.

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.

Offense helps Eaton win his first game of the season, Phils trails Marlins by 1/2 game.

The Phillies’ offense was only able to get six hits during last night’s game, but they were able to make them all count as they defeated the Rockies, 6-1, giving Adam Eaton his first win of the year. The Phillies would score first when, with the bases loaded, and two outs, Geoff Jenkins would take the walk, scoring Shane Victornio who has gotten on base earlier with a single. The Rockies would tie the game in the top of the third, when Todd Helton hits a RBI single to left, scoring Willy Taveras. But, after Pat Burrell has thrown the ball back into the infield, the Phils would catch Helton overrunning first base, and get him into a run down, Jimmy Rollins to Chase Utley to Ryan Howard, who would then throw the ball home when he sees Seth Smith trying to score on the play. Howard’s perfect throw would nail Smith out at home plate, as Carlos Ruiz puts on the tag, keeping the score tied at one to one. The Phillies would then go to work in the fifth. After Greg Reynolds has walked both Rollins and Victorino, he would give up a three-runs home run to Utley, his seventeenth of the year, scoring both Rollins and Victorino, giving the Phils back the lead, 4-1. Three batters later, with Howard on first, via another walk, and with one out, Reynolds would give up another home run, this time to Jenkins, his fourth of the season, scoring Howard, to make it a 6-1 Phillies’ lead. That would be the ballgame, as the Phillies’ bullpen, after relieving Eaton in the seventh, would keep the now very frustrated Rockies from being able to score during the last three innings.

Adam Eaton gets the win, as he would go six innings of very aggressive pitching, giving up only one earned runs on four scattered hits, while striking out four and walking only one. His record is now 1-3 with a 4.99 ERA. Ryan Madson would pitch one and one-third innings of relief, giving up no runs on two hits. J.C. Romero would go two-thirds of an inning, giving up no runs on no hits. Chad Durbin would pitch the ninth, giving up no runs on two hits. Greg Reynolds took the lost, pitching five and two-thirds innings as he gives up six earned runs on five hits, while walking eight Phils, four of whom would later score. He is now 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA. Jason Grilli would pitch one and one-third innings, giving up no runs on no hits. Matt Herges would pitch one inning, giving up no runs on one hits.

With the win, the Phillies have completed their second series sweep of the year, with both of them coming at the expense of the Rockies. The Phillies have, in fact, swept their season series with the Rockies and have swept the Rockies for the first time since they have joined the Majors back in 1993.

The Phillies have now won four games in a row for the first time this season, while also being seven wins over .500 for the first time this year. With the six runs that they have scored last night, the Phillies have now scored seventy-three runs in their last eight games, as well as winning seven of their last nine games. During their last four games, Chase Utley has knocked in thirteen RBIs, including his career high six RBIs on Monday night, tying him for first place in RBIs with Lance Berkman of the Astros, while his home run puts him back into first place in home runs with seventeen, over both Berkman and Dan Uggla of the Marlins, both with sixteen home runs. Utley is also among the league leaders in total bases (2nd), runs scored (4th), hits (7th), doubles (8th-T) and slugging percentage (4th), while he is 15th in batting average. Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell are also among the league leaders in several offensive categories. Howard is among the leaders in home runs (5th-T), RBIs (8th-T), runs scored (10th-T) and walks (9th), while Burrell is among the leaders in home runs (7th-T), RBIs (18th-T), doubles (13-T), walks (2nd) and slugging percentage (7th). As a team, the Phillies are right now first in home runs (79), RBIs (284), total bases (874) and slugging percentage (.457), are second in runs scored (293), third in hits (511) and doubles (114), fourth in walks (203) and team on-base percentage (.341) and fifth in team batting average (.267). They are also seventh in stolen bases (38). 

The Phillies presently have the fifth best record in the National League at 31-24 with a .564 winning percentage. Their pitching staff is second overall in innings pitched (490.0), while sixth in team ERA (3.99) and their relief core is still leading the league in ERA (2.81), while it is seventh in saves (14), has given up the third least number of hits (146), the least runs (56), the least earned runs (52), the least home runs given up (10), and is tied with the Padres for the least hit batters (3).

The win puts the Phils a half game behind the now cooling Marlins, who have lost their game with the Mets in extra-innings, 7-6. The Phillies are now two games ahead of the Braves, who have lost their game with the Brewers, 1-0, as their road problems continue. The Phillies are still four games ahead of the fourth place Mets. As the Phillies and Marlins take the day off, the Braves will conclude their series with the Brewers, now in the top of the fifth inning, with the Braves winning, while the Mets will begin a four games series at home with the Dodgers.

The Phillies will start a three games home stand with the Florida Marlins (30-22) tomorrow night. The first game of the series will begin at 7:05 pm Eastern at Citizens Bank Park. The Phils’ starting pitcher will be Brett Myers (2-6, 5.79), who is coming off of his fourth straight lost, this time at the hands of the Astros on May 24, where he pitched six innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits, in the Phils’ 4-3 lost. Myers will be looking to get back to his winning ways, while hoping that the offense will give him some much needed runs support. The Marlins will be sending to the mound Mark Hendrickson (7-2, 4.14), who is coming off one of his worst starts, in spite of winning the game. He would go five innings against the Giants on May 25, giving up five earned runs on nine hits, in the Marlins’ 8-6 win, in the first game of a makeup doubleheader. He will be going for his eighth win of the season, while hoping that the Phillies’ bat won’t be aiming to up his ERA. The Phillies will be trying to win the weekend series with the Marlins so that they can regain the lead in the National League East, while hoping that the Braves and Mets will lose ground during their series at Cincinnati and against the Dodgers, respectively. 

Edit: The Braves have just won their game against the Brewers, 8-1. So the Phillies are now ahead of third place Atlanta by a game and a half as the Braves head to Cincinnati to play the Reds.

April is almost over…

And the Phils have an outside chance of being in first place before the month is over. The present third place Phillies have gotten off to a good start this month as they have won 15 games while losing 12, trailing the Florida Marlins, who lead the National League East, and have also won 15 games, by .5 games, and trails the second place New York Mets by .004 percentage points as the New Yorkers have won 14 games.

I’m sure everyone in Phillies land were all hoping that the team would start off the season a lot better than they have during the last few years, but I’m sure that no one would have expected them to win this many games as May rolls around with Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino both being out for a while, Ryan Howard slumping badly, Pedro Feliz, Carlos Ruiz and Geoff Jenkins all hitting below their career averages and Brett Myers’ arm not throwing heat. But we can thanks our lucky stars that while all this was happening that Chase Utley, Pat Burrell, Jayson Werth and Chris Coste all got hot, while the bullpen is second best in the league right now with a combine ERA of 2.77, and Adam Eaton, although he hasn’t won a game yet, has kept the team in games, sometimes in spite of himself.

It’s a good thing that the bullpen is so good right now, since the starters combine ERA, going into today’s game, is 10th best in the league, at 4.29. Hopefully, the starters will get better as the year continue, since they have mainly avoided a repeat of the opening day fiasco, as the pitching staff overall has only given up more than six runs only three times since that game.  

The Phillies’ starter for tonight’s game, Jamie Moyer (1-1, 4.05), is coming off of a no-decision against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 24, as he went six innings plus two batters, giving up only one earned run on eight hits, in the Phils 3-1 victory over the Brew Crew. His previous start was a lost to the Mets on April 19 as he went six full innings, giving up two earned runs on seven hits, in the Phils’ 4-2 lost to New York. His opponent, Chris Young (1-2, 3.77), is coming off a lost to the San Francisco Giants, where he pitched seven innings, giving up one earned run on two hits, while losing 1-0. He is trying to snap his own personal two game losing streak. 

Correction. The Phils are now in second place as the Pirates have just finished destroying the Mets at Shea Stadium, 13-1, dropping New York to third place at 14-12. If the Phils can defeat the Padres and Florida loses to the Dodgers, the Phils will end April in first. Keep your fingers cross people, especially as the Phils tend to do better in May.

Quality starts, the Bullpen and Adam Eaton.

The Phillies have played 23 games so far this season. Of those 23 games, the starters have had 12 quality starts. For those who don’t know what a quality start is, it means that a starter has gone at least six full innings, and has given up three runs or less during those innings. Ten of those quality starts had occurred before the Phils second series against the Mets.

The important of quailty starts is mainly this: the deeper that the starters can go into games that they are starting, the longer they can keep the bullpen out of the game until they are needed for the late innings. This gives the manager a large numbers of options on how to use his relief staff than he would if the starters were constantly getting knocked out early in the game, and forcing him to bring in those relievers that make up his middle relief corps.

With that said, the Phillies present relief corps, believe it or not, is leading the National League with a 2.60 ERA. That’s right, the Phils relievers are leading the league. Well, surprise, surprise, surprise. I was expecting them to be more towards the middle of the pack, not the ones leading it. Well, guess we’ll see how long that’ll last, won’t we? Now if the pitching staff, as a whole, can get their ERA down from the present 3.68, fifth best in the National League, the Phillies might really go somewhere.

With that said, Adam Eaton, tonight’s starter, have so far pitched four games during the season, of which three has actaually been quailty starts. That’s right. Three quality starts. He has pitched at least six innings and gave up at least three EARNED runs. (Sadly, that has been the numbers of runs that he have given up in each of those games, all earned, and in at least two he was the losing pitcher of record before the Phils rally late to get him off the hook.) In his last start he only pitched five innings and gave up four earned runs, but all of the runs came in the sixth when both he and Chad Durbin were together unable to keep the Mets off of the scoreboard before Durbin was finally able to put the fire out. That seems to be Eaton’s luck so far this year. He pitched good enough to win his first start, but he couldn’t keep the Reds from scoring the tying run late in the game, which led to a lost in the 9th; the Phils got him off the hook by coming back from behind against the Mets on April 10 before finally losing; he was the pitcher of record against Houston on the 15th before the Phils came from behind in the ninth to win that game; and I’d already mentioned what happened during his last outing against the Mets. Now, he’s going to be the starter against the Pirates tonight. Hopefully the Phils will score some runs early and often against the Bucos to get him the victory, as Adam deserves a victory in the worst possible way.