Two notes this morning:
1) Vance Worley struck out six batters last night, all of them on called third strikes. In spring training, we wrote about Worley's ridiculous ratio of called strikes last season. Well, his ratio is even more ridiculous this season. After last night's performance -- his third outing of 6+ innings and 1- run, by the way -- Worley has recorded 67 percent of his 27 strikeouts on called third strikes.
That puts him at the top of the league, which is where he finished last year:
% of strikeouts looking, NL starters
1. Vance Worley, PHI - 67
2. James McDonald, PIT - 50
3. Kyle Lohse, STL - 50
4. Chris Capuano, LAD - 50
5. Ross Detwiler, WSN - 47
Worley also ranks first in the percentage of his strikes that are called strikes:
% Called Strikes/Total Strikes, NL starters
1. Vance Worley, PHI - 38
2. Erik Bedard, PIT - 37
3. Trevor Cahill, ARI - 35
4. Kyle Lohse, STL - 35
5. Joe Blanton, PHI - 34
The Phillies will face Cahill this afternoon as they try to win their first series in Arizona since 2009. Which brings us to our next topic...
2) The Phillies line-up doesn't take many strikes. Actually, it doesn't take many pitches, period. Phillies hitters have seen an average of 3.66 pitchers per plate appearance this season, the lowest average in the NL. They have swung at 48 percent of the pitches they have seen, the second-highest ratio in the NL. If the Phillies' approach sometimes feels formulaic -- take the first pitch, just because, and then release the hounds -- the numbers support that notion. They've swung at only 23 percent of first pitches this season, tied for 14th in the NL. But after the first pitch, they aren't exactly discerning. In fact, as you can see in the table below, Phillies hitters see three-ball counts less often than any other team in the league. And when they do get a three-ball count, they take ball four less often than all but one other team. In both cases, the team next to them in the standings is the Pirates, which is also the only team that has scored less runs than them. Coincidence? You decide.