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Monday, September 09, 2019

Rosenthal: Reasons the Phillies are floundering? Don’t overlook the front office’s ambivalence ($)

Klentak, the Phillies’ GM, was not necessarily exaggerating last February when, even before the addition of Harper, he described his team’s 2018-19 offseason as “objectively excellent.”

The Phils ended up not only with Harper, Realmuto and McCutchen, but also shortstop Jean Segura and relievers David Robertson and Juan Nicasio. They enabled Rhys Hoskins to return from left field to first base by parting with Carlos Santana in the Segura deal. And while they did not address their starting pitching, they figured they had compensated for any potential vulnerability by upgrading their bullpen, offense and defense.

The bullpen might have even been among the best in the NL if it had stayed healthy. The offense is improved – from 11th in the NL runs per game last season to sixth this season – though perhaps not by as much as the Phillies anticipated. The defense, too, is better, rising from 30th to ninth in defensive runs saved and 27th to 20th in park-adjusted defensive efficiency.

And yet, the starting pitching still proved to be a major flaw.

The Phillies overestimated the ability of their younger starting pitchers to take a step forward. And the development of those pitchers has not been helped by the change in pitching coaches from Kranitz to Young, who became a major-league coach for the first time in 2018. Young previously had worked as a scout for the Padres and Astros from 2010 to ’17.

Young players – pitchers especially – do not always follow a linear progression, forcing teams even with the best-laid plans to shift course. But with the exception of Ranger Suárez, a reliever, it’s difficult to find a Phillies pitcher who has improved from last season to this one.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 09, 2019 at 12:38 PM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: phillies

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   1. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: September 09, 2019 at 02:43 PM (#5877800)

You'd never know it this weekend.
   2. DCA Posted: September 09, 2019 at 02:58 PM (#5877808)
Last year non-pitcher OPS+ 94, this year 97. Last year ERA+ 100, this year 99. Assuming .500 ball the last 20 games, they'll improve by 4 games, which seems about right.

Big problems is the guys who were supposed to be stars (Harper, Hoskins, Nola) were merely good. And nobody else stepped up to be more than they were expected to be.

And they are still alive, of course, 2 games out of the wild card.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: September 09, 2019 at 06:25 PM (#5877882)
Young players – pitchers especially – do not always follow a linear progression

And this year, Atlanta's young players -- their pitchers especially -- progressed in a non-linear fashion. The Braves over-performed expectations by a lot, there's not a lot the Phils could do about that. OK, they could have jumped ship on Franco earlier and signed Donaldson.

Last year's Phils were 2 under, this year 6 over with 20 to play. If you prefer pythag, last year they were 10 under, this year even. That's a fairly substantial improvement in record.

Not that Klentak did a great job or anything. The McCutchen contract (relative to current market) will probably bite them and this is not the way they wanted Harper's contract to start -- a solid enough season if it's a "bad" prime season but a very bad sign if it's plateau then decline from here.
   4. calming him down with his 57i66135 Posted: September 10, 2019 at 11:52 AM (#5878080)
PHI has 10 players on their 60-day injured list.

ATL, WAS, CHC, STL, ARI and MIL also have 10 players on their 60-day IL ...combined.

   5. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: September 10, 2019 at 12:02 PM (#5878083)
PHI has 10 players on their 60-day injured list.

Of course 7 of them are relief pitchers.

(Also Eickhoff, Arrieta and McCutchen)
   6. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 10, 2019 at 12:05 PM (#5878084)
Of course 7 of them are relief pitchers.
It's 2019. At least 7 of everything are relief pitchers. Look around at your co-workers. At least 7 of them are relief pitchers. When you go to lunch, at least 7 of the servers will be relief pitchers. At least 7 of the line cooks, too.
   7. calming him down with his 57i66135 Posted: September 10, 2019 at 02:00 PM (#5878127)
Of course 7 of them are relief pitchers.
it's not just that 7 of them are relievers; they're the relievers who were expected to be the back end of the bullpen this year. robertson was supposed to be the closer; dominguez and neshek were supposed to be the primary set up men. hunter and morgan had the versatility to be long relief, middle relief and/or (R/L)OOGYs.

from's pre-season bullpen rankings:
8) Phillies

Bringing Robertson aboard added another degree of presence and stability to a unit that relied too heavily on rookie Seranthony Dominguez (1.60 ERA in the first half, 4.81 in the second) last season. Robertson allows manager Gabe Kapler to more properly deploy Dominguez, who can provide multiple innings but sometimes struggled with outings on back-to-back days last season. Veterans Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter (who battled an elbow strain in camp) are important pieces here.

The Phillies deserve to be on this list after the Robertson addition, though one wonders if they should have gone just a little bit further with the “stupid” money and acquired even more bullpen depth.

it's almost kind of impressive that the phillies are still 10th in the NL in relief ERA despite their entire bullpen (and most of their rotation) blowing up.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: September 11, 2019 at 01:00 AM (#5878310)
One of the things we need to adjust to for this season is that all bullpens "suck" this year. Remember it's the first year in ages when reliever and starter ERA are (give or take) identical. By bWAA, the "average" pen this year has -2 WAA. The Phils' pen is -2.2 WAA so basically average. The best pens are Cle, Tex and Tampa at a mere 1.2 bWAA but all three well ahead of the Red Sox (yes, 4th best pen) at 0.7 and the Cubs (yes, 5th best pen, best in the NL) at 0.5. The worst pen is the O's at -6.4.

We Cub fans understandably whine a lot about our pitching -- our rotation is finally blowing up and the pen hasn't seemed to have more than 4 guys healthy at any given time -- but best NL pen, 4th best rotation for 2nd best NL staff overall. It's just that nobody is particularly good. The #1 Nats might just squeak out 10 pitching WAA this year -- last year's NL had 3 teams near 12 or better. LA is running away with 18 position player WAA, nearly 12 wins better than 2nd-place DBacks. Last year 3 teams pretty easily topped the DBacks 2019 ... they might even fall back to a tie for 2018 4th if they hit a slump.

The NL's very evenly matched so, relative to average, nobody's doing very well. They still have a 153-120 advantage in inter-league. Mostly but not entirely the super-crap AL teams.

As good a place as any to put this ... remember Cincy's pitching miracle? Well, in the 2nd half, 5.19 R/G.

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