Sunday, September 7, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Finding the Phillies' best available pitcher to fill the void

What we know is that Cole Hamels is out, that the Phillies won't need a fifth starter until April 14, and that several options exist within their system: David Buchanan, Jeff Manship, Sean O'Sullivan, and B.J. Rosenberg.

We also know that on April 14, the Phillies play the Braves, at night, at Citizens Bank Park. Should the Braves' not suffer any of their own problems, their lineup will be heavy with righties and their probable rotation for 2014 indicates that it will be Julio Teheran starting for them that night.

The best thing we can do right now is scrutinize these details to the point that nothing makes sense anymore.

First, we weigh the factors coming from the other team. Be sure to read fast, because at any moment, any slight alteration to the Braves or Phillies roster could make this all completely meaningless.

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  • Julio Teheran

    Over the last three seasons, Teheran has faced the Phillies four times, making three starts and one relief appearance over 18.2 innings. In that span, he's been hit, giving up 18 hits and 12 runs, and lasting an average of 6.1 innings per start. Basic math tells us that in this miniscule sample size that we are calucating just for the hell of it, Teheran gives up an average of six hits and four runs per start vs. the Phillies.

    Therefore, the Phillies' starter would have to give up less than four runs to further strengthen the odds of victory, and has a slightly higher chance of pitching with run support of 3-5.

    The Braves lineup

    Manship, O'Sullivan, and Buchanan are all righties, and the Braves feature a probable lineup of equally right-handed hitters. Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman are the lefties, and if Ryan Doumit gets the start over Evan Gattis, he can hit from either side.

    That being said, Chris Johnson, Andrelton Simmons, Dan Uggla, and the Upton brothers are all righties, and the lineup's career numbers against right handed starters is a BA of .268 and an OPS of .788.

    So now, using these highly hypothetical numbers, we can chart the Phillies' listed probable starters based on specific factors.

    Jeff Manship

    Age/Experience: 29, 5 years in MLB

    Career April/March ERA: 8.10 in 3.1 IP

    Career in CBP: 4.2 IP, 4 hits, 3 ER, 2 BB

    Career vs. Braves: n/a

    Career in night games: 161.1 IP, 3.51 ERA, 1.283 WHIP, 7.8 SO/9, 3.09 SO/BB

    Career vs. righties: 55 IP, 8.52 ERA 

    Career with run support of 3-5: 0-2, 21 IP, 14 ER, 6.00 ERA, 1.381 WHIP


    Sean O'Sullivan

    Age/Experience:  26, 4 years in MLB

    Career April/March ERA: 3.43 in 21 IP

    Career in CBP: n/a

    Career vs. Braves: n/a

    Career in night games: 165 IP, 5.45 ERA, 1.533 WHIP, 4.1 SO/9, 1.17 SO/BB

    Career vs. righties: 100.2 IP, 6.29 ERA

    Career with run support of 3-5: 3-8, 71.2 IP, 53 ER, 6.66 ERA (guh), 1.619 WHIP


    B.J. Rosenberg

    Age/Experience: 28, 2 years in MLB

    Career April/March ERA: n/a

    Career in CBP: 25.2 IP, 4.21 ERA, 1.208 WHIP, 9.1 SO/9, 2.17 SO/BB

    Career vs. Braves: 6.2 IP, 1 ER

    Career in night games: 35 IP, 4.37 ERA, 1.229 WHIP, 9.0 SO/9, 2.06 SO/BB

    Career vs. righties: 30 IP, 6.00 ERA

    Career with run support of 3-5: n/a


    David Buchanan

    Age/Experience:  24, rookie

    Quickly becoming the darling of Spring Training, Buchanan is the career minor leaguer who might get his big chance this season.

    25-year-old Buchanan has never pitched in the Majors. He was promoted to Reading in 2012, where he made 12 starts, good for 72 IP. He averaged over nine hits, almost three walks, and five strikeouts per nine innings. 

    Last year, he moved up to Lehigh Valley part of the way through the season, where he made six starts after making 22 in Reading. He wound up with a 4.40 ERA, 1.361 WHIP, 5.7 SO/9, and 2.04 SO/BB for the year.


    The Phillies had pitching depth just weeks ago, now injuries to Cole Hamels and Ethan Martin have changed that. If choosing one of the more experienced pitchers, O'Sullivan would be the lesser of two evils. Rosenberg is far more effective as a reliever, and Buchanan is unproven - which may be his biggest advantage. 

    Given the stats we do know from the guys who have them aren't impressive, the Phillies might be better off going with the younger guy who doesn't have the experience to have been shellacked by the Braves, but does have the experience to deserve a spot start in April. 

    Of course, if the Phillies really wanted to be careful, they'd seek help outside the organization, especially if this balloons into an issue beyond a single game.

    Justin Klugh
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