The Philadelphia Phillies have a starting rotation that look primed to make a run at greatness this season. But is all of the hype legitimate?Roy Halladay. Cliff Lee. Cole Hamels. Roy Oswalt. The 4-man rotation for the Phils could go down as the strongest 4 man rotation in history. Some teams have a great 2-man combo. Few teams have had 3-man rotation that possesses this much potential. It is even more rare to see a 4-man rotation that could all be Cy Young Award candidates. Some are saying, if this rotation stays healthy for an entire season, there is the potential to have 100+ wins combined.
Doc Halladay started 33 games last year, 9 of which were complete games. He finished the season with 21 wins and a 2.44 ERA and the 2010 Cy Young Award. Not to mention, he also threw a no-hitter to open the NLDS. Halladay has been one of the most consistent and durable pitchers in baseball over the last 5 years.
Cole Hamels finished last season with a 12-11 record over 33 starts, and a 3.06 ERA. Although he struggled at times, he was certainly a very consistent pitcher. Although he might be the least durable of the staff, lasting about 6 innings per start, he does have something the others lack, a World Series MVP.
Over 28 starts, Cliff Lee went 12-9 last season with 7 complete games. He has an ERA of 3.18 and practically carried the Texas Rangers to the World Series. Cliff Lee has shown pinpoint accuracy, and his .076 walks per nine innings, which was among the best in baseball history, prove that you won’t find anyone much better. Over the last two postseasons, Lee has established himself as one of, if not, the best postseason pitcher in the game. When it really matters, Lee hasn’t disappointed.
Roy Oswalt finished 2010 with a 13-13 record in 32 starts, and a 2.76 ERA. Of his games in Philadelphia, he was 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA, which is a dramatic change from his time in Houston. Based on his body of work in Philadelphia, and looking at the pitchers surrounding him, Oswalt should have a better year than last.
Then you add in Joe Blanton, who would undoubtedly be the weakest link in the starting pitching rotation, had a 9-6 record with a 4.82 ERA in his 28 starts last season. He did strike out 134 batters last season, which is not a number to be taken lightly.
If you look at last year as any indication, the 4-man rotation posted 58 wins, which is almost 20-25 short of what some are predicting. Of course, this unit didn’t pitch together last season, and the competition will certainly be different. Having all 4 of these pitchers, in a diminishing NL East, gives a huge advantage to the Phillies.
A projected rotation of Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels, Blanton would favor the Phils in ANY head-to-head match-up. There wouldn’t be many arguments to find a stronger 3rd man than Roy Oswalt, or a 4th man stronger than Hamels. Honestly, there may not be an actual need to have Blanton as a 5th starter, and he could add depth to the bullpen, and also be used as an off-starter to give a 4-man rotation some relief.
There isn’t any doubt that the Philadelphia Philles have assembled arguably the best rotation of all time, rivaling the 1993 Atlanta Braves rotation of Greg Maddux (20-10), John Smoltz (15-11), Tom Glavine (22-6), and Steve Avery (18-6), which combined for 75 wins, and 1971 Baltimore Orioles rotation of Dave McNally (21-5), Mike Cuellar (20-9), Pat Dobson (20-8) and Jim Palmer (20-9)., which was the last team to have 4 20-game winners. Over the stretch of 162+ games, we will see the outcome. Remember this, neither one of those staffs won the World Series.