Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay: Which Phillies Ace Returns to Dominance in 2013?

Tim Stoeckle@@TimStoeckleContributor IIIAugust 21, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 10: Starting pitcher Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park on August 10, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

A team with three aces shouldn't be eight games under .500 on August 21st, but only one of the Phillies aces is actually pitching like one.

Cole Hamels is earning his money. 

Hamels is 14-6 with a 2.94 ERA and 168 strikeouts, and appears to be a legitimate Cy Young candidate.

The other two aces, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, have struggled big time this season.

Lee has only two wins and a 3.83 ERA, his worst since 2007.  He is struggling to hit his spots and has surrendered a very un-Lee-like amount of hits, including 23 in his last three starts.  

Roy Halladay spent some time on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, and his stats reflect those of a pitcher who is throwing injured.  

Halladay is 7-7 with an ERA of 3.95, his worst since 2004.

Because the Phillies kept both Lee and Halladay through the trade deadline, it appears that the team has confidence that their aces will be back to their old selves next season and will allow the team to once again compete for a World Series.

If the question is which one of these pitchers will return to dominance, the popular answer would be both of them.  And that's not out of the question.

Both pitchers are having one of the worst seasons of their careers and haven't really shown signs of a decline before this year.  Could this just be the result of a bad team and low morale?

It's possible.  Up until this year, the worst ERA that Lee had in a season since 2007 was 3.22 in 2010.  For Halladay, his worst ERA since 2004 until this year was 3.71 in 2007, but every year after that Halladay had a sub-3.00 ERA; that is until 2012.

So who will have a better 2013 season?  I have to go with Roy Halladay.

Of course, that prediction depends on Halladay's ability to stay healthy through the season.  If he can come back from his shoulder injury then he should be able to pitch like the old Roy Halladay.

After his first nine starts this year, Halladay had an ERA of 3.22.  He only started two more games before going on the DL, so you can't help but wonder if he started to feel that discomfort in his tenth start.

In his first two years in Philadelphia, Halladay had a record of 40-16 and an ERA of 2.40.  If he is fully healthy in 2013, it isn't hard to imagine Halladay winning over 15 games and having an ERA under 3.00.  He is, after all, a future Hall of Famer.


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