Last night and tonight marked a couple of game totals that I think make for an interesting way to look at what the team has done lately. In the hope that some others might enjoy this kind of analysis here goes a little two-part study of the Phillies at the 2/3 mark (108 of 162 games after Thursday) and how the last 15 games have sorted out as three times through the rotation. Part One and Part Two below.
And I added a third part about the wild card at the end.
By reaching the record of 60-48 after Thursday's win over Florida, I was curious how that compared to the last three seasons. Simply put, the team is on pace for 90 wins at this stage of the season, so I thought I'd see how the last three went at that stage and how the final records compared. This season, despite the earlier struggles, thanks to going 12-2 through Thursday, the record is comparable to the last three years.
2007: 57-51 Finished at 89-73. On pace (as of 108 games) to win 85. Plus 4. 32-22 (.593) to end the year.
2008: 59-49 Finished at 92-70. On pace to win 88. Plus 4. 33-21 (.611) to end the year.
2009: 61-47 Finished at 93-69. On pace to win 91. Plus 2. 32-22 (.593) to end the year.
2010: 60-48 On pace to win 90.
Over the last 15 games, winnng 13, losing only 2, the starting pitchers have gone through the rotation three times. I find it interesting that during this stretch the bullpen has been more heavily involved in decisions, going 7-1, or 53% of the decisions, compared to only figuring in 30% of the decisions for the season overall. Here's the pitching breakdown - and don't be surprised if it's obvious who the ace is.
Starters - Halladay 3-0, Kendrick 2-0, Blanton 1-0, Oswalt 0-1
Bullpen - Durbin 2-0, Madson 2-0, Contreras 2-0, Herndon 1-0, Lidge 0-1 (blown save cost Madson another win)
No decisions - Hamels 3, Blanton 2, Kendrick 1, Happ 1, Oswalt 1.
Have you wondered how good the chances are of winning a wild card with more than 90 wins? I did a check of the records of the NL wild card winners and the records of the teams that finished next highest in wins since 1995. In the 15 seasons of wild card competition, the magic number for making the wild card seems to be between 91 and 92 wins. The highest regular season total for a wild card winner was the 96 games won by the Mets in 1999, who had to win a 97th game in a playoff vs. the Reds. But that year is the exception to the general range of 90 to 92 wins for the wild card winner (8 of 15 in that range). Other than the Reds in '99 there have been only two teams that won more than 90 games and didn't make the wild card: 2002 Dodgers went 92-70 and trailed the Giants by 3 games; and the 2004 Giants went 91-71 and trailed the Astros by one game.
(For those interested in more numbers, I calculated the wins for the wild card winners and got an average of 91.2. The average for the runnerup was 88.7 wins. The lowest number of wins making the wild card was 88 by the 2006 Dodgers, who lost a tiebreaker for first with the Padres that year. (I didn't count the 1995 season won by the Rockies with a record of 77-67, roughly equal to 87 wins in a full season.) And for those who can't forget the back-to-back frustrations of 2005-06 for Philadelphia coming in as runnerup, the Giants have come up one spot short four times, including a playoff loss to the Cubs. Guess who's leading the wild card chase this year.