The Phillies Return to the Bank to Take on the Angles

It has been awhile since my last Phillies post, they have gone 10-11 since then and are 17-19 coming into tonight

The Phillies’ season has been surprising good so far. They are only two games under .500, a record most thought would be a lot worse at this point. The biggest thing haunting the Phils right now is the bullpen. The bullpen has blown eight saves so far this season with a 5.29 ERA. Considering the starters average about 6.09 innings per start, that 5.29 ERA changes to about 1.71 earned runs per 2.91 innings (the average remaining innings left when the starter leaves the game — derived by substituting 2.91 for 9 in the ERA equation). The Phillies average 4.75 runs against per game so the bullpen accounts for 35.1% of their opponents’ runs — three of the 60 runs allowed were unearned so I used 60 divided by 171 (total runs against) rather than 1.71 divided by 4.75 which equates to 36%. Regardless of the math, Ryno shouldn’t be handing the ball to the pen and having the opponent’s score multiply by 1.5.

What sticks out most to me is the up and down pattern of wins. The Phillies are 6-6 in terms of series –although technically one of the losses was a one-game series against the Mets. Three of the six losses have been against first place teams while they’ve won against teams that have the potential to be playoff teams, regardless of where they stand currently (*cough* Dodgers). In fact, if the Phils had won at least once against their “natural rival,” the Toronto Blue Jays, they’d 18-18. If they can address the bullpen issues, their stock could rise very fast.

The Phillies return home to start a span in which they’ll play 16 of their next 19 at Citizens Bank Park; they begin with a two-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of America, which America, North America. The Halos are 19-18 –tied for the second wild card– with 189 runs, fourth-most in baseball. Here are the probables:

Tuesday at 7:05 ET: Cliff Lee (3-3) vs. Matt Shoemaker (0-1)
Wednesday at 1:05 ET: A.J. Burnett (2-2) vs. Garrett Richards (3-0)
Both games can be can be seen on CSN Philly and Fox Sports West

As per usual, the keys for the Phillies will be to score early and for solid starting pitching. It may be obvious, but early run support helps pitcher pitch deep into the ballgame. Against a team with a lineup like Anaheim’s, Cliff and A.J. will need to be solid. Luckily, both Lee and Burnett have been great at home this season with ERA’s of 2.05 and 1.56, respectively. Furthermore, Cliff Lee has pitched 7.1 innings per home start and A.J. Burnett’s home BAA is .186 so these are certainly the guys to take the hill for Philadelphia.

This will be a homecoming for baseball’s young star, Mike Trout, who grew up Millville, New Jersey, which is 41.7 miles from Citizens Bank Park. “It’s gonna be good, it’s a short stay obviously, night (game)-day game,” said Trout. “But it will be good to see the fans, family and friends. It’s always special to go back home. It’s a little closer (than other East Coast stops), obviously, 20-30 minutes (from home). It means a lot for the people to come out and spend some money to come see me play. It’s gonna be special, for sure,” Trout told reporters. Trout is currently batting .272 with 7 homers and 24 RBI and has never played the Phillies.

As per the MLB scheduling formula, the Phillies and Angels will meet again later this year in LA for another two-game set — August 12th and 13th.

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