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There's Nothing Better to Do Mid-Season Review: Pitching

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Cole Hamels, presumably not in a crazy-making amount of pain. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Cole Hamels, presumably not in a crazy-making amount of pain. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
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When I started writing the pitching portion of my mid-season review, I failed to realize one important fact: approximately 88 people have pitched for the Phillies this season.  As we all take this forced break from meaningful baseball, here are words on all of them.

 

Starters

Roy Halladay (11-3, 19 starts, 143.1IP, 2.45 ERA): He's Roy Halladay.  What else do you say other than he's very, very good at pitching?  After looking at his stats, I want to point out a few favorites.  He's gone at least six innings in all 19 starts.  He's gone 7+ in 16 starts.  He has six complete games.  And my all time favorite: he has 17 walks this season.  Total.  He has 19 starts.  He has fewer walks than starts.  Who does that!?

Cliff Lee (9-6, 19 starts, 137IP, 2.82 ERA): I still can't believe Cliff Lee is a Phillie.  He's taken the fans for a ride this season, that's for sure.  He gave up six runs in 3 1/3 innings in his first start against the Braves.  He followed that up with a three-hit complete game shutout against the Nats.  After allowing six runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Nats at the end of May, he allowed only one earned run over his next five starts -- including three straight complete game shutouts.  He hit his first career home run this past weekend against Atlanta, and he ran the bases like a giddy little boy.  Seriously, Cliff Lee is a Phillie.

Cole Hamels (11-4, 19 starts, 132IP, 2.32 ERA): Sweet Mary Magdalene, has Cole Hamels been good this year.  After his disastrous first start, he's pretty much told everyone to take their boos and shove them up their ass.  If you take out that first start, his ERA is 1.95.  He's gone 7+ innings in all but five starts, and gone 6+ in all but two.  He's calm and collected on the mound.  He's no slouch at the plate.  According to Charlie Manuel, he's turned into a man (I don't really want to get into the details of that).  He pitched two starts while delirious from poison oak!  He is Iron Man!


Roy Oswalt (4-6, 13 starts, 71.1IP, 3.79 ERA): It was a surprise to me when Oswalt's back problems cropped up this season, though it shouldn't have been.  He's suffered from back issues for years, but there was nearly no mention of them after his arrival in Philly last July.  This season, even with the back pain, he pitched well, though without looking like normal Roy Oswalt.  He's been on the DL since late-June with two bulging disks in his back, and the Phillies are hoping for a return by the end of the month.  I'm looking forward to the return of Oswalt and his high socks.

Joe Blanton (1-2, 6 starts, 34.1IP, 5.50 ERA): I'm sorry, I don't even really know who this is.  I vaguely remember a guy who pitched for the Phillies early in the year, but it's been so long since anyone has seen or heard of him that I'm not entirely sure he wasn't a collective hallucination.  This probably pretend pitcher started the year really roughly, but quickly settled into his old habit as an innings eater.  Big Joe went on the DL near the end of April with some elbow soreness, and returned despite still feeling some pain.  (Someone will need to have an arm amputation before pitchers stop doing that.)  He went back on the DL in mid-May, and I'm assuming he's been abducted by aliens, since he's essentially disappeared completely.  It's anyone's guess as to when he comes back, since he hasn't even started a throwing program yet.

Vance Worley (4-1, 10 appearances, 49IP, 2.20 ERA): Of everything I like about Vance Worley -- his rec specs, his mohawk, his adorable face, and, of course, his pitching -- what I like the most is that he's young.  He's only 23 years old and he's still learning, still perfecting.  (And there isn't a better rotation for him to learn from.)  The Phillies have been really careful with him, bouncing him between the big club and AAA to stay stretched out as a starter, which is what they want him to be.  (He appeared as a reliever twice this season early on.)  I'm eager to see how he does in the second half, presumably filling in for Oswalt or Blanton (who?). 

 

Bullpen

Ryan Madson (3-1, 31 appearances, 31IP, 15 saves, 2.03 ERA): When it became apparent that Lidge was going to start the season on the DL, there was a kerfuffle about who would take over the job of closer.  Citing Madson's previous "issues" as a closer, the job was given to Jose Contreras, who was injured within a month.  The job was Madson's at last, and he's been nothing short of fantastic.  Madson is so good that Lidge essentially gave him the closer's job earlier this year.  Only one blown save on the year, and he survived it with toe and chair unharmed.  He took a comebacker off his hand on May 20 which at first didn't seem to severe, since he continued to pitch for nearly a month afterwards.  He was placed on the DL on June 28, retroactive to June 18.  He should be back after the break, hopefully in peak condition.

Kyle Kendrick (4-4, 22 appearances, 60.1IP, 3.58 ERA): I like Kendrick as a reliever much more than I like him as a starter.  His ERA as a reliever (2.49) is nearly two full runs less than as a starter (4.37).  The return of Oswalt or that Blanton guy should return him to the bullpen where he belongs.  And in reality, despite my intense dislike for him, it's good to have a guy in the bullpen who can be slotted in as a starter if need be.  If not for Kendrick, the Phillies would have had a big problem with two starters down.  You have no idea how much it pains me to say that.

Antonio Bastardo (3-0, 36 appearances, 33IP, 5 saves, 0.82 ERA): I'll say this to everyone: I didn't want Bastardo to make the team coming out of Spring Training.  His inconsistency in 2009 and 2010 were enough to put me off him.  I WAS WRONG.  I was SO wrong.  He has been an absolute revelation for the Phillies.  If his stats get any lower, he'll be able to travel back in time and save games from 2010.  His ERA is under 1.  His WHIP is under 1.  And his BABIP is a cool .130.  It's that last one that concerns me.  As Whole Camels pointed out a few weeks ago, Bastardo may be due for a massive regression.  But do you know what?  I really don't want to think about that.  When he comes into a game, I'm never worried.  I know the score will stay the same.  He's the opposite of Baez.

Michael Stutes (3-1, 32 appearances, 30.1IP, 3.26 ERA): I wanted Stutes to make the team right out of Spring Training.  Of all of the minor leaguers I watched, he impressed me the most.  And not just with his good looks and flowing locks, though that certainly doesn't hurt.  He came up at the end of April when Contreras went to the DL and hasn't looked back.  His WHIP is 1.15 and he's striking out just over a batter per inning.  He's allowed runs in only six of his 32 appearances.  What's troubling is that when he does allow runs, it's usually more than one.  But overall, he's been a standout, filling in ably for injured members of the bullpen, and helping to lower the average age of this rapidly aging, elderly, decrepit team.

Danys Baez (2-4, 28 appearances, 35IP, 5.40 ERA): There isn't much I can say about Baez that hasn't been said.  No one feels good when he comes into a game.  Up until the beginning of May, he had an ERA of under 2, but that didn't matter to me -- I still expected the worst every time he took the mound.  His five scoreless innings against the Reds in that 19 inning affair is the obvious highlight of his year.  He seems to have emerged as a kind of pseudo pitching coach for the bullpen, which is all well and good, but I don't think it's worth the $2.5m the Phillies are paying him.  Looking at his stats, I was shocked.  He hasn't had an end-of-season ERA under 4 since 2005, yet since 2006 he's been paid an average of $4.7m per year.  Danys Baez, 1, Everyone Else, 0.

David Herndon (0-2, 23 appearances, 28IP, 5.14 ERA): I was pretty optimistic about Herndon coming out of Spring Training.  It didn't take long for that feeling to go away.  He made his first appearance of the year on opening day, and allowed two hits and two runs in one inning.  He was sent down at the end of April, his first stint in the Phillies minor league system.  His ERA in 11 appearances before his demotion was 9.28.  In the 12 appearances since he came back up, he's held an ERA of 2.60. His other numbers are nothing to get excited about -- his WHIP is 1.46, though it's down from last year's hideous 1.60 -- but it seems that his time in the minors did him some good.  Fun fact: Did you know that he's only 25?!  He looks at least 32.

Jose Contreras (17 appearances, 14IP, 5 saves, 3.86 ERA): It's been a rough year for Big Truck.  Chosen to be the closer in Lidge's absence, he made five appearances in seven days at the end of April and was promptly placed on the DL.  He hasn't been the same since.  After a month on the DL, Contreras returned to pitch six innings over nine games with an ERA of 9.00.  He was put back on the DL on June 20 with a strained right forearm, and while it was thought he could begin a throwing program after the break, he's seeking a second opinion on his injury this week.  His return seems a long way off.

 

Also Ran (Four Appearances or Fewer)

Drew Carpenter (2 appearances, 3.1IP, 8.10 ERA): This year is an improvement for Carpenter.  In 3 games in 2009, he had an 11.12 ERA.  In 1 game in 2010, he had a 9.00 ERA.  I hope I'm around in 2016 when he has an ERA of 3.00. 

Scott Mathieson (4 appearances, 5IP, 0.00 ERA): No one wants poor Scott Mathieson.  Including me.

Juan Perez (4 appearances, 3.1IP, 0.00 ERA):
At 32, he's oldest among Carpenter, Mathieson, and Zagurski (Zags is 28, guys), but he might have the brightest future.  He pitched an immaculate inning on July 8, and followed it up with another great inning the day after.  There's no predicting his future with the Phillies, but I'd like to see them give him a few more chances, and hopefully he'll rise to the occasion.

Mike Zagurski (4 appearances, 3.1IP, 5.40 ERA):
Sent down at the start of June and was thankfully not brought back up when Contreras went on the DL the second time. Used exclusively in losses, I'm hopeful he'll stay in AAA.

Brad Lidge: Brad hasn't pitched in the big leagues yet this year.  When he was first injured, it seemed like it might be a short stint on the DL.  Then, he'd be back in a month.  And then it was two months.  Finally, the team seemed to give up on optimism all together and said he'd be back after the All-Star Break.  Shockingly, Lidge is actually pitching in the minors right now on his rehab assignment, lending credence to his vague (yet totally happening) return date.  Personally, I'll believe it when I see it.

 

The Departed

JC Romero: He straight up sucked this year.  There's some discussion about whether or not Romero would have been better had he been used exclusively against lefties.  Fortunately, none of that matters now, because he's blessedly, fantastically gone.  He's in the Nationals system now, and last I heard he was on the verge of a call-up.  I wish him the best of luck with the Nats, and by that I mean I wish that he does the same thing he did with the Phillies.