Yesterday I looked at the Phillies' absolutely dominant offense and asked the question, with an offense like that, who needs Roy Halladay? Today, I'll ask the same question but about the Phillies' pitching.
Really, the Phillies' pitching? The staff that has a 4.42 ERA that's good for 22nd in the majors and 13th in the NL? A staff that has a .780 opponents' OPS, which is 26th in the majors and 14th in the NL? How could they not need Roy Halladay?
Well, here's how. All of this is in the context of yesterday's post about the Phillies' offense. Keeping that in mind, let's look at some of the team's pitching numbers:
ERA: Here's the most basic stat we're all familiar with. And, as I wrote above, the team ERA is 4.42, good for only 22nd in the majors and 13th in the NL. However, let's look a little more closely at this stat. The team really struggled in April -- Brett Myers led the starters with a 4.83 ERA; the team got 11 starts from Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, and Chan Ho Park, all with ERAs over 7; Brad Lidge, who appeared in 9 games, also had an ERA over 7; and Jake Taschner was on the team. Removing April from the equation, the team has a much better 4.12 ERA. That ERA is now 14th in the majors and 7th in the NL since April. In other words, the Phillies have a slightly above-average pitching staff since April. Narrow the focus a bit more to just July and the pitching staff has been dominant. In 23 games, the staff has a 3.27 ERA, which is 2nd in the NL and the majors.
R/G: Overall on the year, the Phillies have given up 4.65 runs per game, which is 11th in the NL and 18th in the majors. But, since April when the team gave up 5.60 runs per game, the team is giving up only 4.40 runs per game, good for 12th in the majors and 7th in the NL in that time period. Again, the team has gone from below average to above average in this department. In 23 July games, the staff has been dominant, giving up only 3.57 runs per game, better than all but the Braves (3.30) and Rangers (3.48).
WHIP: On the year, the Phillies have allowed 1.39 base runners per inning (walks plus hits per inning pitched). They're right around the middle here - 17th in the majors and 9th in the NL, just a tick worse than the Rockies (1.37), D-Backs (1.38), and Astros (also 1.39 but slightly lower). In April, they were much worse at 1.53, which was 23rd in the majors and 14th in the NL. Since then, however, they're much improved. They're allowing 1.36 base runners per inning, good for 13th in the majors and 7th in the NL. In their dominant July, they lead all of baseball, giving up only 1.16 baserunners per inning.
With the sources I'm familiar with, it's hard to generate much more sophisticated data for these time splits than what I've done here. But the trend is quite obvious. The team's pitching staff really suffered in April, but has been much better since then. In fact, the pitching has been above average in both the majors and the NL since April. And, in July, it's been one of the best pitching staffs in the game.
Yes, it's true that you're not as bad as your worst stretch (such as most of April) and not as good as your best stretch (right now). But, the improvements since April can't be ignored here. The team has re-configured its starting rotation and gotten key members of the staff healthy. These improvements, although unlikely to sustain their July highs, should continue for the next two months.
Does that mean Roy Halladay wouldn't help this pitching staff? Certainly not. He'd be the best pitcher on the team and would change the dynamic of the rotation while taking pressure off the bullpen. But, given what this team does with its bats and how its pitching has settled in as a slightly above-average staff, it's hard to say that this team must have Roy Halladay.
A nice addition, yes. A necessary change, certainly not.