Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mathieson, Zagurski optioned; bullpen appears set

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- And then there were 12 healthy pitchers in camp.

Mathieson, Zagurski optioned; bullpen appears set

Pitcher Scott Mathieson has been optioned to minor-league camp. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Pitcher Scott Mathieson has been optioned to minor-league camp. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- And then there were 12 healthy pitchers in camp.

The Phillies optioned Scott Mathieson and Mike Zagurski to minor-league camp Saturday morning. With Brad Lidge and Brian Schlitter injured, it appears the team's pitching staff is set.

That is, of course, barring a trade or last-minute waiver acquisition. And I wouldn't rule that out.

UPDATE 11:46 a.m.: For what it's worth, Rich Dubee said the bullpen is not set despite there only being seven pitchers in camp. He could be blowing smoke up your you-know-what, but in an interesting development, Mike Stutes has returned from minor-league camp for the day. He'll pitch in today's Grapefruit League game after Kyle Kendrick and Ryan Madson.

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So as it stands, here is your opening day bullpen:

RHP Ryan Madson
RHP Jose Contreras
LHP J.C. Romero
RHP Danys Baez
LHP Antonio Bastardo
RHP David Herndon
RHP Kyle Kendrick

Obviously, closer is a question. That comes down to Madson or Contreras.

But to me, seventh inning is just as big a question. The trickle-down effect of losing Lidge means Contreras is bumped from the seventh. The pitcher who was mostly responsible for that inning over the previous three seasons, Chad Durbin, is in Cleveland.

Look at that list and pick out a guy who can be trusted right now to be the regular seventh-inning man. Yeah.

For reference, here is how the Phillies handled the seventh inning in 2010. Small sample sizes, beware, of course:

Rk GPA ▾ABHRSO/BBBAOBPSLGOPS
1 Chad Durbin 36 123 108 2 2.15 .259 .333 .454 .787
2 Roy Halladay 29 121 115 3 6.00 .313 .336 .461 .797
3 Cole Hamels 22 81 76 4 7.00 .211 .250 .434 .684
4 Joe Blanton 15 60 55 6 3.00 .400 .433 .782 1.215
5 Kyle Kendrick 13 47 43 1 1.00 .326 .370 .419 .788
6 J.C. Romero 18 47 39 1 0.63 .308 .426 .410 .836
7 David Herndon 14 46 43 0 4.50 .302 .333 .326 .659
8 Jose Contreras 11 43 39 1 4.00 .333 .395 .462 .857
9 Danys Baez 12 40 36 1 1.50 .333 .400 .583 .983
10 Roy Oswalt 9 30 26 1 1.50 .154 .267 .308 .574
11 Jamie Moyer 7 25 22 0 1.67 .182 .280 .227 .507
12 Antonio Bastardo 8 21 16 0 0.33 .250 .429 .313 .741
13 Nelson Figueroa 5 19 14 0 0.25 .286 .444 .429 .873
14 Ryan Madson 1 6 5 0   .400 .500 .400 .900
15 Mike Zagurski 2 4 3 0 1.00 .333 .500 .333 .833
  Team Total 162 713 640 20 2.33 .289 .352 .456 .808
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/26/2011.

By the way, in case you were wondering, the seventh inning was the Phillies' worst (by OPS) in 2010.

SplitERAPAABHRSO/BBBAOBPSLGOPS
1st inning 5.11 700 634 17 2.20 .274 .333 .416 .750
2nd inning 3.33 659 621 26 5.54 .259 .291 .448 .739
3rd inning 3.06 659 603 20 3.16 .240 .286 .385 .671
4th inning 3.06 656 603 14 3.59 .239 .290 .375 .665
5th inning 3.50 664 607 23 2.63 .245 .299 .418 .717
6th inning 3.44 680 620 19 2.98 .258 .310 .406 .716
7th inning 5.00 713 640 20 2.33 .289 .352 .456 .808
8th inning 2.28 663 581 10 2.43 .224 .299 .339 .638
9th inning 4.35 568 498 15 2.37 .249 .336 .390 .726
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/26/2011.

In 2009, the seventh inning was the team's best (a .664 OPS against and 3.47 ERA). And in 2008, the seventh inning was also the team's best (a .635 OPS against and a 2.61 ERA).

What does this all mean? Hard to say. The seventh is usually the inning in which a starting pitcher may tire and a reliever is brought in with men on base.

After Durbin, Roy Halladay (.797 OPS), Cole Hamels (.684) and Joe Blanton (1.215) faced the most batters of any Phillies pitcher in the seventh inning. Those numbers for Halladay and Blanton are not pretty, so that is less blame upon the relievers.

And yes, the Phillies have a rotation of four aces and hope the seventh inning is pitched by a starter. On some nights it will be. On others it will not.

Is Baez that guy to take over in the seventh? The guess is he will be the first choice, merely by default.

But remember 2008. Durbin entered that season as the long man / mop-up guy. In a few months, he had taken over the seventh and became a trusted reliever.

The Phillies must hope either Bastardo, Herndon or Kendrick follows the same route.


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