For the last 4 years, since the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series, Ruben Amaro has built his team on pitching. Fans agree and disagree with this formula, but the past has shown pitching has won more World Series than hitting. The Texas Rangers have not won a World Series in the past few years, but the Giants have won two. The Giants won with great pitching from their top 4 starters and a shut-down bullpen. The 2013 Phillies pitching staff is shaping up to be one of the best they’ve had in a while, but with a few ifs. If Roy Halladay can return to form, and if Kyle Kendrick can continue his high 3 ERA as a starter, this staff can be very good. They will need to be for the Phillies to make some noise in the NL East this season.
The Phillies rotation is projected as follows:
Cole Hamels (Left Handed)
Roy Halladay (Right Handed)
Cliff Lee (Left Handed)
Kyle Kendrick (Right Handed)
John Lannan (Left Handed)
The Phillies still have the Three Aces, and I have been one of the only Kendrick supporters (as a starter only) and for good reason. When Kendrick is a full-time starter in last two seasons he has a 3.89 ERA and a 3.14 ERA. If you take out the spot starts he makes when he is not prepared or in a routine, Kendrick’s ERA drops below 3.5 for the last two seasons. Not as bad as a lot of you think. Also a number that sticks out is Kendrick’s ability to pitch with a lead. It may surprise you, but in his Career when he is pitching with a lead, the other team’s on base percentage is only .316. To compare, one of the best pitchers with a lead is Roy Halladay, who has a .291 on base percentage with a lead. I believe the Kyle Kendrick hate should subside, especially this year when he is in a full routine. I think Kendrick can win 12 games and have an ERA between 3.75 and 3.9, which is very good for a fourth starter. The one hole may be John Lannan, and hopefully the Phillies have a scheduled day off a lot during his turn to pitch, as John Lannan is not remotely close to the other pitchers on the staff.
The Phillies biggest strength this year is the bullpen, which needed an upgrade. Last year, despite what most think was the offenses fault, the bullpen blew about 25 games last year. If they had held the lead in just HALF of those games, the Phillies would have made the playoffs. From the 7th inning on, this bullpen is a lock. Most of the time, Hamels, Lee, Halladay will go 6 or 7 innings. So there is nine outs left to get. Jonathan Papelbon will get three, and newly acquired Mike Adams will get three. That leaves three outs to get, and Charlie Manuel can choose between Antonio Bastardo, Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst, Michael Stutes and Chad Durbin to get those three outs. To me, if the Phillies take a lead into the 7th inning, they should win the game. This is not the case with last year, where we just hoped they could get a lead going to the 9th inning.
The key for the Phillies this year is just to score runs, because the pitching staff is very good, and about 80% of the games, the opponent should score 4 or less. So if the Phillies average four or more runs per game, they can be a playoff team. The lineup, however, is a story for another day.Tags: Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, John Lannan, Kyle Kendrick, MLB, Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Halladay, starting pitching