How Much Did Starting Pitching Hurt the Phillies?

The Phillies' problems in 2004 started with the starting pitching. The rotation combined for just 922 1/3 innings and had a 4.91 earned run average. Not pitching deeper into games put a strain on the bullpen, and falling behind early put pressure on the lineup. It was all part of what went wrong with the Phillies in 2004.

  • Eric Milton (14-6, 4.75) started the season as the number four starter but ended up as the best pitcher in the rotation. He was the only pitcher with more than 200 innings for the Phillies this year, but is also a flyball pitcher in a homerun park - he gave up 43 long balls - and can be a free agent. So there's no guarantee he'll be back.
  • Kevin Millwood (9-6, 4.85) might have been the Phillies' most disappointing player in 2004. After asking pitching coach Joe Kerrigan to back off and let him prepare his own way, he still didn't pitch up to expectations. He gave up 155 hits in 141 innings, didn't go deep into games and also spent six weeks on the disabled list with elbow tendinitis. He's a free agent who isn't expected to be back.
  • Vicente Padilla (7-7, 4.53) is one of the best pitchers in the league when he's focused on the task at hand. He has a plus fastball and wicked breaking ball but too often loses concentration. Since he made $2.6 million last season and is once again eligible for arbitration, he is rapidly approaching a crossroads in his career.
  • Randy Wolf (5-8, 4.28) was bothered much of the season by elbow tendinitis, which explains the mediocre numbers for the 2003 All-Star. The Phillies badly need him to bounce back next season, especially since he could become the number one starter by default.
  • Brett Myers (11-11, 5.82) regressed this season. He's still only 24 and still has the potential to become a dominant pitcher in the big leagues. At the moment, though, he remains an immature thrower. The hope is that the new pitching coach will get through to him after Joe Kerrigan couldn't.
  • Cory Lidle (12-12, 4.90) pitched well for the Phillies (5-0, 2.63 in his last seven starts) after struggling immediately after being acquired from the Reds (0-2, 8.16 in his first three starts) in August. He's a free agent but he's also a groundball pitcher, which makes him interesting for a team that must try to restructure its pitching profile to survive in Citizens Bank Park.
  • Gavin Floyd (2-0, 3.45 in six games) started the season at AA Reading. There were no plans to bring up the 21-year-old this season, but injuries depleted the rotation to the point where he was called up in August and pitched well enough to make himself a frontrunner to make the team out of spring training.
PhillyBaseballNews.com reader Nick Testa put together some interesting numbers on the Phillies starting pitchers:

PITCHER

GS

TEAM

RECORD

IP/START

Kevin Millwood

25

15-10

5.2

Randy Wolf

23

12-11

5.2

Vicente Padilla

20

11-9

5.2

Eric Milton

33

20-13

5.2

Brett Myers

30

14-16

5.2

TOTALS

131

72-59

5.2

PITCHER

GS

TEAM

RECORD

IP/START

Cory Lidle

10

6-4

6.0

Gavin Floyd

4

3-1

5.0

TOTALS

14

9-5

5.2

PITCHER

GS

TEAM

RECORD

IP/START

Paul Abbott

10

3-7

4.2

Brian Powell

2

1-1

6.0

Josh Hancock

2

0-2

4.1

TOTALS

14

4-10

4.1




"The reason for this information is to point out that the pitching staff that the Phillies went into the season with got the job done, but they got hurt. If Ed Wade didn't wait until mid-August to acquire a quality replacement the Phillies could have been in the playoff race. As you can see by the numbers they were 72-59 when the starting rotation was intact. In the middle of the season, Ed Wade sat and watched while the Phillies posted a 4-10 record when Paul Abbott, Brian Powell and Josh Hancock took the mound and did nothing. Lidle and Floyd were quality replacements, but by the time he added them to the rotation, the Phillies were in too big of a hole." – Nick Testa, PhillyBaseballNews.com reader.

In the bullpen, considering that closer Bill Wagner missed 2 1/2 months with a series of injuries and that weak starting pitching meant the second-highest workload in the league (540 1/3 innings), a combined bullpen ERA of 3.70 was more than acceptable.

  • Billy Wagner (4-0, 2.42, 21 saves in 25 opportunities) was acquired from the Astros to give the Phillies the late-inning hammer they thought they lacked with Jose Mesa in 2003. When healthy, Wagner delivered. But everything from a groin pull to shoulder tendinitis limited him to 45 games. He said he won't exercise his option to demand a trade and will rededicate himself to getting in shape this winter.
  • Tim Worrell (5-6, 3.68) was signed as a free agent to set up Worrell. He ended up having to take over the closer's role 27 times - he converted 19 - and did a credible job although that scrambled the rest of the bullpen.
  • Rheal Cormier (4-5, 3.56) appeared in 84 games, a club record for a left-handed pitcher. Despite the workload and even though he's 37 years old, he finished strong with a 2.30 ERA from August 1 to the end of the season. He can be a free agent and has considered retirement.
  • Ryan Madson (9-3, 2.34) was the Phillies' most pleasant surprise this season. A starter his entire career, Madson made the team out of spring training as a middle reliever and took to the role immediately. His stats are inflated by one emergency start against the White Sox; as a reliever his 1.65 ERA was third in the league among non-closers.
  • Felix Rodriguez (5-8, 3.29) was acquired from the Giants one day before the trading deadline. He pitched well enough that the Phillies would like to see him come back, but he has a player option for $3.15 million that he must decide on by Friday (October 15).
  • Roberto Hernandez (3-5, 4.76) was signed to give the team another veteran presence in the bullpen. He brought intangibles but didn't pitch well enough for the Phillies to bring him back in 2005.
  • Todd Jones (11-5, 4.15) was acquired from Cincinnati before the trading deadline. While he had some effective stretches, he admitted he didn't think he pitched well enough for the Phillies to offer him a contract when he becomes a free agent at the end of the year.
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