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Entries in Philadelphia Phillies (37)

Tuesday
Sep112012

Kyle Kendrick Getting More Ks

"Kyle Kendrick" -- that sounds like the name of a power pitcher, doesn't it? Unfortunately, the Phillies right-hander with three Ks in his name failed to get many on the mound during the first five seasons of his big league career, striking out just 4.1 batters per nine frames from 2007-11. The only pitcher who threw at least 500 innings over that period with a lower K rate was sinkerball specialist Aaron Cook.

While Kendrick still won't be confused with a strikeout fiend, his K rate as a starting pitcher this season (6.6 per nine) is in the same ballpark as the National League average (7.3 per nine). He punched out a career-high eight hitters against the Miami Marlins last night, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Kendrick's changeup, which he used to record seven of those Ks, is a major reason why his strikeout rate has climbed from Eisenhower-era levels. There's a lot to like when Kendrick pulls the string.

Kendrick has thrown his changeup 21.7% of the time this year, up from 13.5% in 2011. Last year, Kendrick's changeup dropped just one more inch in the strike zone than his sinker. This year, there's a three inch difference in vertical movement between his changeup and his sinker. That extra separation could explain why hitters are whiffing nearly twice as often against the pitch as they did in 2011.

Here's Kendrick's changeup contact rate by pitch location as a starter in 2011, and then 2012:

2011

2012

Batters missed Kendrick's changeup about 23% of the time in 2011, which lagged well behind the 29% MLB average for starters. In 2012, however, they're swinging through 41% of Kendrick's changeups. That puts Kendrick in the same territory as the game's string-pulling royalty:

Highest changeup miss rates among qualified starting pitchers, 2012

PitcherMiss Pct.
Stephen Strasburg 53.7%
Cole Hamels 47.0%
Jarrod Parker 46.5%
Tim Lincecum 44.4%
Francisco Liriano 42.9%
Johan Santana 42.9%
Jaime Garcia 42.9%
Randall Delgado 41.4%
Felix Doubront 41.2%
Kyle Kendrick 40.9%

 

Wednesday
Sep052012

Jimmy Rollins gets his 2000th hit

The Reds topped the Phils, 2-1 last night but the Phils with so few things to smile about this season at least could be happy for Jimmy Rollins as he picked up his 2,000th career hit. He has 134 hits this season.

Rollins is the third Phil since 1901 to have 2000 hits:

RkPlayerHFromToG2B3BHRBA
1 Mike Schmidt 2234 1972 1989 2404 408 59 548 .267
2 Richie Ashburn 2217 1948 1959 1794 287 97 22 .311
3 Jimmy Rollins 2000 2000 2012 1769 420 105 187 .270
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Play Index Tool Used Generated 9/5/2012.

From 1888 to 1901, Ed Delahanty had 2214 hits for the Phils.

Here are the 19 active players with at least 2000 hits:

PlayerHFromAgeGAB2B3BHRBA
Derek Jeter 3267 1995 21-38 2559 10434 520 65 254 .313
Alex Rodriguez 2874 1994 18-36 2498 9559 509 30 644 .301
Omar Vizquel 2870 1989 22-45 2960 10563 453 77 80 .272
Johnny Damon 2769 1995 21-38 2490 9736 522 109 235 .284
Chipper Jones 2713 1993 21-40 2477 8919 547 38 468 .304
Ichiro Suzuki 2569 2001 27-38 1884 7990 301 80 102 .322
Bobby Abreu 2434 1996 22-38 2328 8333 565 59 286 .292
Todd Helton 2420 1997 23-38 2123 7565 570 36 354 .320
Jim Thome 2320 1991 20-41 2533 8390 449 26 611 .277
Carlos Lee 2253 1999 23-36 2073 7887 464 19 357 .286
Albert Pujols 2219 2001 21-32 1834 6819 494 15 474 .325
Michael Young 2198 2000 23-35 1796 7300 409 55 174 .301
Adrian Beltre 2195 1998 19-33 2090 7872 460 29 338 .279
Paul Konerko 2160 1997 21-36 2117 7628 383 8 417 .283
Juan Pierre 2123 2000 22-34 1863 7164 242 91 17 .296
Scott Rolen 2066 1996 21-37 2025 7354 516 43 314 .281
Placido Polanco 2044 1998 22-36 1809 6837 335 32 103 .299
Carlos Beltran 2042 1998 21-35 1895 7237 413 74 330 .282
Jimmy Rollins 2000 2000 21-33 1769 7399 420 105 187 .270
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Play Index Tool Used Generated 9/5/2012.
Thursday
Apr192012

Lee v. Cain

At minimum, Philly's Cliff Lee and San Francisco's Matt Cain will pull down nearly $250 million combined between now and 2018. Last night, they showed why. Lee became the first pitcher since Aaron Harang (2007) to last 10 innings, holding the Giants scoreless while whiffing seven, walking none and giving up seven hits. Cain punched out four and walked one in nine innings, allowing just two hits. 

While neither pitcher got the W he so richly deserved, Lee and Cain both produced one of the top five pitching performances of the year so far as judged by Game Score:

Highest Game Scores for starting pitchers, 2012

RkPlayerDateTmOppRsltApp,DecGSc
1 Matt Cain 4/13/2012 SFG PIT W 5-0 SHO9 ,W 96
2 Edwin Jackson 4/14/2012 WSN CIN W 4-1 CG 9 ,W 87
3 Chad Billingsley 4/6/2012 LAD SDP W 6-0 GS-9 ,W 87
4 Matt Cain 4/18/2012 SFG PHI W 1-0 GS-9 86
5 Cliff Lee 4/18/2012 PHI SFG L 0-1 GS-10 85
6 Matt Garza 4/12/2012 CHC MIL W 8-0 GS-9 ,W 85
7 Jered Weaver 4/6/2012 LAA KCR W 5-0 GS-8 ,W 84
8 Justin Verlander 4/5/2012 DET BOS W 3-2 GS-8 84
9 Barry Zito 4/9/2012 SFG COL W 7-0 SHO9 ,W 83
10 Roy Halladay 4/5/2012 PHI PIT W 1-0 GS-8 ,W 83

Source: Baseball-Reference

Lee (79 percent) and Cain (70) each surpassed the 70 percent strike mark, but they did it with contrasting styles. Lee peppered the strike zone while getting lots of ground balls. Cain, meanwhile, relied on jumpy Phillies hitting weak fly balls.

No starter has placed more pitches in the strike zone than Lee during the Pitch F/X era, and last night was no exception. Lee tossed 59 of his 102 pitches (58 percent) over the plate against San Francisco, never reaching a three-ball count while staying low and away against a lineup featuring seven hitters swinging from the right side:

Lee's pitch location vs. San Francisco, 4/18/12

Lee's "pound the knees" approach produced 18 grounders, compared to five fly balls. While Lee stayed low and in the zone, Cain often threw out off the plate to a Philly lineup with six lefty swingers:

Cain's pitch location vs. Philadelphia, 4/18/12

Only 36 of Cain's 91 pitches (40 percent) were in the zone. But Philly hitters chased 43 percent of his out-of-zone stuff. Unlike Lee, Cain took to the air with a 7-to-16 ground ball-to-fly-ball ratio.

Two aces, 19 combined scoreless frames and not a single pitch topping 92 mph on the radar gun. Lee and Cain showed different ways to dominate without elite velocity. We might not see a better duel all season long.