Jun
17

Is it the pitcher, or is it the opposing offense?

By

The Phillies, as we’ve frequently heard, have had trouble scoring runs lately. After they beat Boston on May 21 they led the NL in runs per game, and given what we know about their offensive players that should have come as no surprise. Since then, in a 22-game span, they’ve dropped a full run per game to ninth in the NL, a half run per game behind league-leading Cincinnati. Yet last night they broke out for six runs on six hits, three of which went for extra bases. Were they breaking out of a slump?

As Ben noted this morning, “Last night’s affair was one of those ugly outings where the pitcher shoulders all the blame.” Given how the game unfolded after he left, I have to agree with that. The Phillies reverted to the futility we’ve seen, or at least heard of, during the past few weeks. Worse, they did it against two of the Yankees’ worst pitchers.

Photo credit: Paul Sancya/AP

It’s not secret — not to Yankees fans, not to anyone who follows baseball with a modicum of intensity — that Boone Logan and Chad Gaudin rank among the lesser relievers in the league. If not for injuries they probably wouldn’t have major league jobs right now. But they were easy options, and since the Yankees have two relievers on the DL their presences are understandable. Temporarily, at least.

Their troubles are well known. Gaudin walks too many hitters and has a tough time with lefties. In an ideal world he’d come in from the pen to face a string of righties, but there’s always that lefty on the bench that can trip him up. This leads to a high number of hits, particularly extra base hits. Logan walks even more batters than Gaudin, and even has troubles throwing strikes to same-handed hitters. The only reason he ever sniffs the majors is because he throws the ball with his left arm.

Yet those two combined to not only hold the Phillies scoreless during the final 5.2 innings last night, but to no-hit them. While Burnett used 87 pitches to record 10 outs, Logan and Gaudin combined for 78 pitches to get the final 17 outs. They threw two-thirds of their pitches for strikes. They each struck out three hitters, Logan in 2.2 innings and Gaudin in 3. It was quite the change from what we saw earlier in the game.

Could it have been the Phillies offense getting complacent after scoring six runs? It could be, I suppose, but I’d never turn to this as a primary explanation for their late-inning futility. They know that a four-run lead isn’t safe with the Yankees’ offense — hell, they brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, and it wasn’t all that surprising. So I’m sure they didn’t just turn off some switch and slide into cruise control. Maybe it was something subconscious, a sense of satisfaction that they had scored six runs after battling and struggling to score just one during many games in the past few weeks. None of us can really say for sure.

The most likely explanation is that Burnett was just bad. We know that he has terrible outings from time to time, just like we know that Guadin and Logan are bad pitchers. We also know that the Phillies offense has struggled during the past few weeks. When those elements combine in my head, it points to Bad A.J. and not much else. We’ll have to learn to live with these starts. At least it bodes well for today.

Categories : Pitching

58 Comments»

  1. Rose says:

    AJ Burnett is the Cuba Gooding Jr. of pitching.

    He has a string of some incredible outings…and then comes Snow Dogs

  2. Dirty Pena says:

    It’s not secret — not to Yankees fans, not to anyone who follows baseball with a modicum of intensity — that Boone Logan and Chad Gaudin rank among the lesser relievers in the league. If not for injuries they probably wouldn’t have major league jobs right now.

    Sigh.

    Aren’t guys like that supposed to be on the Nats or something?

  3. deuce bag poster says:

    Don’t worry guys…our ACE is pitching tonight.

    /Bexy baiting’d

  4. Steve H says:

    Gaudin walks too many hitters and has a tough time with lefties. In an ideal world he’d come in from the pen to face a string of righties, but there’s always that lefty on the bench that can trip him up. This leads to a high number of hits, particularly extra base hits. Logan walks even more batters than Gaudin, and even has troubles throwing strikes to same-handed hitters.

    This is so true, yet for any given night, these guys have the stuff to pitch very well and get out major league hitters. It just rarely happens. It’d be one thing if they just threw puss all night. The stuff is there, they just don’t have the other factors needed to be successful. This could just have been one of those rare nights (and even rarer that they both did it.)

  5. mike c says:

    boone was throwing strikes last night, hopefully this is a revelation for him, he did pretty well in AAA also. he might be the phil coke role if he keeps it up

    • Steve H says:

      There is way too much evidence of Logan not throwing strikes that I doubt last night is the beginning of a turnaround for him. I’d love to see it, but the odds are about .000000000001%.

      • In mike c’s defense, he did say that Logan could fill “The Phil Coke role”. That’s not necessarily “a turnaround”, unless that turnaround involves turning around to watch a homer fly out of play.

      • rek4gehrig says:

        I’m with you….0.000000000000000001%

      • Chris says:

        He’s only 25, so it’s not like improvement is out of the question (or even unexpected). He’ll never be Greg Maddux out there, but if he can cut his walks slightly he’ll be a reasonably useful reliever – particularly since he’s making less than $600k.

        • Steve H says:

          but if he can cut his walks slightly he’ll be a reasonably useful reliever

          Completely agree. I just don’t think last night’s performance has any saying on whether he will or will not improve. I think he probably will, and will still be pitching at 35 because he’s a lefty with good stuff and will likely cut his walks, even if slightly.

      • Nickel says:

        “There is way too much evidence of Logan not throwing strikes that I doubt last night is the beginning of a turnaround for him. I’d love to see it, but the odds are about .000000000001%.”

        So you’re sayin’…there’s a chance!

      • Mike HC says:

        Should we take into account that Cashman and the Yanks seem to think Logan can at least be useful. They are giving him a real, legitimate shot. They must have some faith in him.

        I get as frustrated as the next for relievers that can’t throw is over the plate, but maybe if the Yanks have some faith, I should too.

        (he will prob get demoted within the week now, ha)

  6. rek4gehrig says:

    Same huh? thoughts for me last night. Bexy’s Andy will shine tonight.

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