Phillies Look at Rotation as a Strength in 2015
The bullpen stood out as the Philadelphia Phillies strength last season, while trade talk and rebuilding has been the story this offseason. There's another piece of Philadelphia's roster that is deserving of attention, though – the starting rotation.
Sure, the starters were good, but not great in 2014 led by another stellar year from ace Cole Hamels, who went just 9-9 but had an outstanding 2.46 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. But injuries and inconsistency were problems in just about every other spot in the rotation – Cliff Lee made only 13 starts before a flexor pronator strain in his left elbow ended his season. A.J. Burnett was unhappy and bolted back to Pittsburgh after posting a 4.59 ERA and 1.41 WHIP over 213 2/3 innings. While veteran Kyle Kendrick, posted a 4.61 ERA with the Phillies last season and signed with Colorado the first week of February.
It could be a much different story in 2015 for the Phillies. Cole is still Cole, while Lee isn't dealing with the flexor pronator strain in his left elbow that plagued him a year ago, and newcomers Aaron Harang and Chad Billingsley should hold down the middle of the rotation. As for the final turn in the rotation, Philadelphia has three young players with battling it out in spring training – veteran journeyman Jerome Williams, 25-year-old David Buchanan, 30-year-old Kevin Slowey and a wild-card, 23-year old Jesse Biddle.
The improved health at the top of the rotation and the depth and competition at the back end of it is something that could have the Phillies surprise some teams in the National League this season.
"As a professional athlete, you never walk into a situation thinking we're going to lose, you can never have that mindset," Phillies beat writer Ryan Lawrence told me on the Sports Bash. "Come April 6th they're going to try to win every game they play."
Phillies beat writer Ryan Lawrence from the Philadelphia Daily News live from Clearwater talks about Phillies spring training: