Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pirates vs. Phillies (Series Twenty)

Defeat from the jaws of victory has been this team’s life for as long as this unreal losing streak. The Pirates were able to do it once more, taking a series of positives and turning it into a whole lot of negative momentum. Clint Hurdle once again showed that he has absolutely no clue how to handle his pitchers, and while the players deserve a ton of the blame, Hurdle should get a smidgen over 50% of it.

For what it’s worth I’m not too upset about this one. These things do happen, and while it might seem like they only happen to the Buccos they don’t. You have to keep your foot on their neck for nine innings, because if you can score seven runs in three innings so can they. Anyway this was a positive series for the Bucs, taking two out of four is nothing to sneeze at and they now have improved on their win total from last year against the Mets.

It doesn’t get any easier though.

The Pirates played 20 different teams last season, they had a winning record against just four of them. One of those four teams was somehow the Philadelphia Phillies. The Pirates went 4-2 against the Phillies, splitting a two game series at Citizens Bank Park and taking three out of four games at PNC Park.

One of the things I will remember most about the 2010 season was when the Pirates held the Phillies to zero runs and Roy Halladay had a complete game loss. The Pirates would score just two runs off Halladay and he would throw 132 pitches, striking out six and walking just one en route to the loss. Zach Duke would pitch six scoreless innings, giving up six hits and striking out five en route to his third win of the season.

Don't forget to check out one of TiGO's all time top posts. This one deals with the hated Phillies.

The Phillies probable pitchers are Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, and Roy Halladay.

Cole Hamels (27) LHP

Hamels is having yet another fine year for the Phillies, currently tied with Roy Halladay for the team lead in wins (7) and tops in WHIP (1.018). His numbers have just been phenomenal, his 5.20 SO/BB is second only to Roy Halladay on the team as is his 1.8 BB/9. I said team their, not just rotation.

Hamels is having the best year of his career by many standards. His current ERA of 3.01 is a career best, his 1.018 WHIP is a career best, his 7.4 H/9 is a career best, his .6 HR/9 is a career best, his 1.8 BB/9 is a career best, and his 5.20 BB/SO is a career best. To say that Hamels has stepped it up, and hung with the big dogs in this rotation is an understatement.

Out of eleven starts so far for Hamels he has gone six or more innings ten times. That’s ten in a row by the way, his only really bad start was his first one, in which he gave up six earned runs in 2.2 innings. Out of the aforementioned ten starts, nine have them have been of the quality variety. The one start that wasn’t “quality” was a six inning four run performance on May 13. Since then he has rattled off three wins in a row, pitching 21 innings over that span with a 2.57 ERA and a slash line against of .224/.263/.303. What’s more he has thrown 66% of his pitches for strikes and is BAbip is a very fair .302.

Hamels actually ended up getting tagged for a loss against the Buccos last season, an odd trend for Phillies pitchers because he also had a good game. In his one start, which came at PNC Park, Hamels threw 7.0 innings of five hit ball, giving up just three earned runs and walking two. He struck out eight Buccos in the losing effort.

Hollywood Hamels is just 1-1 lifetime against the Pirates, boasting a 3.81 ERA in four starts. Over his 26.0 innings he has allowed 25 hits, and stuck out 28 Pirates, walking just six. He has never won at PNC Park, pitching their twice. His only other PNC Park start came on August 26 2009. This would be yet another phenomenal start at PNC. The Phillies would win this game 4-1 with Hamels pitching eight innings of shutout ball. Hamels gave up seven hits, walking two as well, and also was able to strike out seven good guys. That’s two pretty dominating starts in which he didn’t get a win at PNC Park.

Kyle Kendrick (26) RHP

Kendrick has had a pretty up and down career, and is clearly the fifth starter on this team. He probably wouldn’t even be that, and up until recently wasn’t. He has just two starts in fifteen appearances so far this season but injuries have forced him into the rotation. Kendrick has been better as a reliever than a starter, notching just eight innings as a starter. He has given up as many runs as a starter as he has as a reliever (five) but both of his homers allowed have come as a starter. Guys are also OPSing higher against him as a starter (.855 compared to .633) but this is all a very small sample size, and one good outing (HELLO PIRATES) could sway those numbers into more reasonable territory.

Kendrick isn’t all that terrible though, he has 10+ wins in three of his four big league seasons prior to this one and his 2009 season, in which he didn’t, can probably be thrown out because he only made two starts. That said he can probably best be described as average, his ERA of 4.61 is just a little higher than what you get with a quality start, and his career SO/BB of 1.49 is very low.

Which leads us to where he has struggled this year, control. Kendrick never has been a big SO guy, in fact his career high is just 5.1, that means guys will put balls into play, Kendrick has to keep guys off the bases to be successful. Thus far he has been able to do that, but he has actually walked more guys than he has struck out, which unchecked will lead to a whole host of problems. A ton of walks almost always bring about bad results, and his .92 SO/BB is a very big deal for a guy without the ability to just blow one past a batter. The Pirates need to be patient with Kendrick and let him hurt himself.

Kendrick made two starts against the Pirates last season, picking up a win in both. He pitched a total of 17.0 (!) innings against the Bucs giving up 15 hits and just five earned runs. His PNC Park start was a hell of an outing for him, pitching a full nine innings and giving up just three earned runs on ten hits (three homers).

Kendrick seems to be creeping into that Pirate killer territory. He has only faced the Pirates four times but he has a win in all of them. He has given up 28 hits in 31 innings (nearly 8 innings per game average!), allowing just nine earned runs for an ERA of 2.61. He only has 14 K’s against the Pirates so he hasn’t done anything different than usual in that department. He has just had the Bucs number thus far.

At PNC he is a bit worse, though a 3.38 ERA is nothing to sneeze at. The Pirates have hit him well putting up a line of .274/.308/.468 in his 16.0 PNC innings.

Although he has given up five career homers to the Pirates no current Pirate on the 25 man roster has a home run against him.

Roy Halladay (34) RHP

What series against the Phillies is complete without hitting their ace? Well their top ace I guess you’d call it. There isn’t anything I can say here that you don’t already know about Roy Halladay. Halladay is a two time Cy Young award winner, winning the award in both the American League (Blue Jays) and National League (Phillies). In addition he has finished top five four more times. In fact he has finished in the top five in five straight seasons. He also has made the All Star team in whichever league he happened to be in seven of the last nine years. Roy Halladay is probably the best pitcher of the current ERA and he is a horse. He has consistently led his teams in innings and complete games. In fact he has nine complete games in each of his last three seasons, including one against the Pirates last season.

Halladay is off to another absurd start, notching seven wins to three losses in his twelve starts. If you thought he couldn’t improve upon his numbers think against. His 9.0 SO/9 is a career high, which is just what opposing batters needed. Halladay has gone six plus inning in all twelve starts, and shockingly has gone less than seven innings just twice. Of his twelve starts, two of them are not “quality starts”. One of them came early on April 19 when he gave up six runs on ten hits in 6.2 innings. The second was actually his last outing when he gave up four earned runs on ten hits over 7.0 innings. No need to mince words, he has been great.

His only start against the Pirates was the complete game against Duke in which he gave up two earned runs, mentioned in the intro.

He actually doesn’t have a whole lot of experience against the Pirates, the above start being his only one at PNC Park. He has three starts total against the Bucs pitching 24.0 innings, allowing 23 hits and just three earned runs. Not surprisingly he has kind of mowed down Buccos, with 22 SO in that span, to just four walks.


vs. Hamels

vs. Kendrick

vs. Halladay

vs. Phillies

Josh Harrison





Xavier Paul





Ronny Cedeno





Matt Diaz





Dusty Brown





Garrett Jones





Andrew McCutchen





Lyle Overbay





Brandon Wood





Chris Snyder





Jose Tabata





Neil Walker





Pedro Ciriaco





The Pirates probable pitchers are Jeff Karstens, Charlie Morton, and James McDonald.

Jeff Karstens (28) RHP

Is Jeff Karstens seriously becoming a semi-reliable starting pitcher? The numbers seem to bear that out. Kastens ERA this season is a respectable 3.58 very similar to his performance over his last seven games. In fact in his last seven games (including one relief appearance) his ERA has only gone higher or lower than four points either way just twice. In fact over that span his ERA is just 3.41. Karstens picked up a somewhat tough loss his last time out, giving up just two earned over five innings. He really didn’t seem to have it, but settled in just enough to limit the damage and give the Pirates a chance to win. He didn’t walk anyone, and struck out four, but he gave up seven hits, including a homer. Good enough numbers to put these guys in a position to win, but just not enough with these weak bats. He would get just two runs of support and the Cubs would win 3-2.

The Phillies really lit up Karstens last season. His first appearance came on May 17 at Citizens Bank Park. He would pitch 2.1 innings of relief giving up three hits and one earned run. The Pirates got absolutely smoked though losing by a score of 12-2.

The real damage came on July 4 at PNC Park. Karstens lasted about his maximum of six innings, sadly he gave up five runs on nine hits in his no decision. The Pirates would actually go on to win this game 8-5.

Karstens’ only other appearance against the Phillies came on July 12, 2009. Karstens made yet another relief appearance for the Pirates allowing no runs, no hits, walking one, and striking out four. The Pirates would go on to lose that 5-2.

Karstens has yet to record a decision against the Phillies, and he sports an ERA of 4.50 over 12 innings of work. His 1.083 WHIP is actually quite good and his SO/BB is an unreal 8.00 (small sample size at work!).

Charlie Morton (27) RHP

What a tough outing for Morton against the Mets. It seemed like everyone was against him and that everything that could go wrong did. The positive? He gave up just three runs, only one of which was earned. The passed balls were both on Snyder, including one he just didn’t catch, and the majority of his hits were soft grounder. No one was really making hard contact against him. His ground ball rate was phenomenal (17 groundballs to just 7 flyballs). The best part? He didn’t walk anyone (although he did hit a batter) and he struck out four. If Morton continues to do what he did against the Mets he will be fine.

That last outing seemed like the perfect cauldron for a classic Morton Meltdown, and while he did appear frustrated (who wouldn’t?) he kept it together and gave this team every opportunity to win. Morton once again showed poise, and worked out of trouble, something very unlikely last season. Morton is confident, Morton seems to believe in his stuff, and his pitches and he just continues to impress me.

Morton now has four straight quality starts, he has also lowered his ERA in each of them, going from 3.52 down to his current 2.51. Sadly he has only gotten two wins over that span with one loss and his no decision against the Mets. While the run support hasn’t been Maholmian, it hasn’t been great. In fact his one loss came in a seven inning, two run performance by Morton, a game he deserved to win, and a game the Pirates offense would produce zero runs for him against the team that traded him.

Morton picked up the loss last season in his one start against the Phillies, getting pummeled at Citizens Bank Park. Morton lasted just 4.0 innings on May 17, giving up six runs (all earned) on six hits and throwing just 73 pitches.

Morton has faced the Phillies three times, and has had little success. In his three starts he is 0-2 with an ERA of 9.75, the highest of any team he has faced, period. He has just 12.0 innings over three starts, a pathetic four per game and has given up a whopping 19 hits over the same span. He has also given up four homers to the Phillies his second highest total ( first is to the Giants who have hit five homers in 31.0 innings). To say that the Phillies have pretty much had their way with Mr. Morton would be an understatement.

Although that isn’t entirely fair. On August 22, 2009 Morton went six innings against the Phillies giving up just two earned runs on five hits. That should put into perspective just how disastrous his other two starts were.

James McDonald (26) RHP

McDonald seems to be back to pitching well, but he still isn’t going deep into games. Six innings is fine for a guy like Karstens, but I’d like to see him get a little deeper every now and again. Still he now has three quality starts in a row and just one win to show for it.

His last outing was fine, he got results, but he was pretty unspectacular. The Pirates would score all their runs after he was out of the game so he didn’t get credit for the win, but his one run over six innings was definitely a major reason why the Pirates won the game. This game also did wonders for McDonalds numbers, as a 4.85 ERA just looks a whole lot better than a 5.23 ERA. He also had more than double the amount of strikeouts as he did walks so all of his numbers are really starting to come back in line. Not sure if the early season injury is still having some effect on his stamina, but it he keeps putting up numbers like that he will win his fair share of games.

McDonald has been better at home than on the road this year, 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA at home versus 2-3 with a 6.49 ERA on the road. He is holding batters to a line of .216/.303/.318 at home while batters are hitting him for a line of .310/.375/.483 on the road. He is striking guys out more on the road (7.8 per nine compared to 7.2 per nine) but he is walking them more too. His SO/BB at home is 2.00 and on the road it is 1.88, better at home despite the better SO numbers on the road.

All that said he has been a stud in May. He made five starts in March/April and was 1-2 with an ERA of 7.66. His WHIP over that time was 1.824 and his opponents line was .299/.405/.515. He walked more than he struck out, his SO/BB sitting at .94 while allowing 22 Runs in 97 at bats. In May he was the polar opposite, posting a 2-1 record with an ERA of just 2.86 in six games. His WHIP over that time was 1.240 and his opponents line was .252/.305/.389. He struck out more than he walked, his SO/BB sitting at 3.50 while allowing just 11 runs in 131 at bats.

JMac didn’t face the Phillies at all last season, either as a Dodger or as a Pirate. In fact he has just two appearances against the Phillies in his career, both as a reliever. He walked two batters in his 1.1 innings and really did nothing else.

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