Sep 3, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg (23) comes out to relieve pitcher Ethan Martin (49) during the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Phillies Discover Strike Throwing Is Kinda Important

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There’s an old saying in baseball. If you walk nine guys, you’re gonna suck.

Actually, that’s not so much an “old saying” as it is the blunt reality of someone smacking you in the case with a cold, dead fish. Which probably would have been preferable to watching an inexperienced collection of arms distribute nine walks to the Washington Nationals’ during the Phils’ 9-6 loss on Tuesday night.

Yes, the Philllies are dealing with a lot of youthful arms in their rotation and bullpen and yes, sometimes there are going to be growing pains. But according to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, Phils pitchers threw 180 pitches last night, with just 88 (48.9%) for strikes. And in one of the few moments when Nationals’ color announcer F.P. Santangelo said something that actually made a little sense, he noted how easy it is for hitters to stand in the batter’s box knowing that, with Phils pitchers missing as badly as they were with most of their pitches, hitters could get comfortable in the box, knowing they could key in on anything that looked like it was going to be close to the plate and spit on everything else.

And this was all WITHOUT Phillippe Aumont.

Phils’ starter Ethan Martin started the walk brigade by issuing five walks in 4 2/3 innings, giving up five earned runs in the process. That included his final batter of the night, in which he walked in a run with the bases loaded.

Justin De Fratus followed Martin by walking the first batter he faced on four pitches to force in another run (all this after the Phillies had drawn to within 3-2, by the way). Mauricio Robles worked a scoreless inning, but gave up a walk in doing so. Luis Garcia walked two in two innings, and was refreshingly followed by Joe Savery and B.J. Rosenberg, neither of whom walked a batter in their combined inning of work.

I never thought I would use the words “relieved” and “B.J. Rosenberg” in the same sentence, but, here we are.

Phillies pitchers have thrown the sixth-most walks in the National League this year, but, those numbers are not as high as they would be if not for the impeccable control of Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Phillies relievers, however, lead the NL in walks with 192. The next closest ‘pen (Miami) has 177. Only Houston and Cleveland’s bullpens have issued more walks than the Phils in all of baseball.

So yeah, perhaps Rich Dubee’s replacement and, more importantly, the Phils’ minor league pitching instructors, have some more work to do.

Or maybe, we just need a whole bunch of new pitchers.

Yeah, that sounds a lot easier. Let’s just do that.

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