Scouting Report on Each Phillies Pitcher, Catcher Heading into Spring Training
It seems not so long ago that the Philadelphia Phillies were defending their National League East title with the "Four Aces" serving as the keystone of the team.
But while Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee continue to be widely recognized as aces, Roy Oswalt is long gone and Roy Halladay may or may not still have the stuff to lead a rotation.
Given the Phillies' ongoing concerns on offense—the Delmon Young signing was not indicative of great confidence in the power department—it is apparent that unless the team pitches and catches it well in 2013, drastic roster changes are likely.
As with so much Phillies news these days, the team's forecast for pitchers and catchers is varied.
Signing Hamels to his six-year, $144 million contract extension in July of 2012 was probably the right decision for the Phillies.
After splashing cash at so many other players (Chase Utley and Ryan Howard come to mind) to sign them, retain them or extend them, and watching those players age and decline precipitously in 2012, letting a homegrown ace walk away shy of his 30th birthday was never going to fly.
And there is not too much to say by way of a scouting report for Hamels. He has made at least 31 starts in each of the past five seasons. He has averaged 197 strikeouts a season in that time. He is coming off two consecutive All-Star selections and records of 14-9 in 2011 and 17-6 in 2012.
Hamels is the staff ace despite the excellent pedigrees of the two pitchers behind him.
Cliff Lee finished the 2012 season with a subpar but terribly misleading 6-9 record.
Misleading, because just about all of his peripheral numbers were in line with his prior, often-dominant statistical measures.
Lee struck out 207 batters in 211 innings over 30 starts while walking only 28. His 1.11 walks and hits per innings pitched and his 3.16 earned run average were both better than his career averages in those categories.
It was not Lee's fault that the Phillies rarely scored enough runs to put him in line to win games.
Per Aaron Gleeman of HardballTalk, Lee ranked 85th of 90 pitchers in run support in 2012.
If Cole Hamels had left in free agency, Lee would be the staff ace.
After Hamels and Lee, though, the question marks as to the starting pitching begin to pile up, starting with the biggest one: What can the Phillies expect from Roy Halladay in 2013?
Doc won the National League Cy Young award in 2010 and finished runner-up in that voting in 2011. Amid queries of whether he was pitching hurt, though, Halladay posted this line in 2012: 11-8, 4.49 ERA, a half-dozen starts missed and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.67, his worst since 2007.
Per Spike Eskin of CBS Philly, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. reported that Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee has seen Halladay throw recently and was encouraged. But even Amaro Jr., who has little choice but to hope for the best, conceded that the Phillies "won’t really know until—what kind of Roy we’re going to have, until he’s firing on the mound in spring training."
So, if the GM cannot safely predict whether Halladay will be fully healthy and effective in 2013 at this point, further speculation here would be just that.
It certainly seems like Kyle Kendrick will be the Phillies' fourth starter entering spring training. Neither John Lannan nor Tyler Cloyd have Kendrick's stuff or his track record.
Not that Kendrick is great. He isn't.
Kendrick went 11-12 in 2012. His 159.1 innings pitched was the second-highest season total of his career, and his 3.90 earned run average was certainly not terrible.
But Kendrick still does not strike out enough hitters (116 in 2012), and he still gives up too many walks (49 in 2012).
Kendrick is durable and has shown flashes of brilliance, per Tyler Kepner of The New York Times.
The Phillies will have to hope that Kendrick delivers more gems and fewer early exits in 2013.
John Lannan joined the Phillies with a one-year, $2.5 million contract after spending much of 2012 in the Washington Nationals' minor league system. Lannan made only six major league starts last season.
Quite a precipitous fall for a pitcher who, as recently as 2010, was the Nationals' Opening Day starter.
Like Kendrick, Lannan is a nibbler who does not strike many hitters out and issues far too many walks. His strikeout-to-walk ratio in the major leagues is an abominable 1.39.
When healthy, Lannan does eat innings: 206.1 in 2009, 184.2 in 2011. That alone might earn him the fifth slot in the rotation.
Pressed into service due to Cole Hamels' sudden illness last season, Cloyd ended up making six starts, winning twice and losing twice.
Cloyd's sample size at the major league level is thus limited, but the 30 strikeouts against just seven walks were certainly encouraging.
Cloyd and Lannan are likely to battle for the fifth spot in the rotation and may end up sharing it in 2013.
Papelbon did more or less what the Phillies expected him to do in 2012. He saved 38 games. His earned run average of 2.44 was sterling, as was his 1.06 WHIP.
Striking out 92 batters in 70 games was also in line with what the Phillies expected to get from Papelbon when the Phillies signed him to his four-year, $50 million contract.
The Phillies bullpen was very shaky in 2012, but that was not Papelbon's fault. The Phillies probably still feel that ninth-inning leads are quite safe in Papelbon's hands.
Mike Adams comes to the Phillies from the Texas Rangers after having his worst season since 2008.
But that is largely because Adams was so absurdly good from 2009-2011 that Adams' merely good numbers in 2012 look poor by comparison.
Adams' 3.27 earned run average was better than most of the bullpen arms the Phillies had in 2012, though Adams' 1.39 walks and hits per innings pitched was less than ideal.
The Phillies are hoping they will get a version of Adams closer to the prior three seasons when his strikeout-to-walk rate never dipped below five and his WHIP never got above one.
Even if Adams cannot get back to those otherworldly levels of performance, though, he will probably be an improvement over what the Phillies had in the eighth inning in 2012.
Per Craig Calcaterra of HardballTalk, the Phillies signed Chad Durbin to a one-year contract pending a physical. Phillies fans will remember Durbin as a mainstay in middle relief for the pennant-winning Phillies teams of 2008 and 2009.
Durbin had a decent 2012 campaign with the Atlanta Braves, going 4-1 with a 3.10 earned run average with 61 innings pitched in 76 games.
As with Adams' 2012, Durbin's statistics in 2012 were not overwhelming, but had he done something similar for the Phillies in 2012, he would have been one of the Phillies' best relief pitchers.
Bastardo is back with the Phillies on a one-year, $1.4 million contract after a fairly dismal 2012.
His troubles finding the strike zone (26 walks in 52 innings) led to an inflated earned run average of 4.33 and a disappointing 2-5 record.
Bastardo's troubles led the Phillies to try the likes of Jake Diekman and Jeremy Horst as left-handed stoppers, with mixed results.
The Phillies would probably be more comfortable with Bastardo in that role, particularly given how vital he was to the Phillies' last National League East title defense in 2011 when he went 6-1 with a 2.64 earned run average.
With Bastardo struggling so mightily, Horst's 2012 was a revelation for the Phillies, who can use all the good left-handed relief pitching they can find.
Horst's numbers in 2012 were high-quality, though the sample size was limited. In 31.1 innings, Horst struck out 40 batters. His earned run average (1.15) and walks and hits per innings pitched (1.12) were outstanding.
The Phillies would sign on for a repeat of those numbers happily.
Aumont was thought to be the big prize received from the Seattle Mariners when the Phillies traded Cliff Lee after the 2009 season.
Now, a little more than three years later, the Phillies cannot be that sure of what they have in Aumont.
Aumont made 18 appearances for the Phillies in 2012, even saving two games along the way. His 3.68 earned run average and his 1.295 walks and hits per innings pitched were reasonably competent.
But Aumont walked nine batters in his 14.2 innings, muting some of the effect of his 14 strikeouts in that same amount of work.
The Phillies, and particularly Ruben Amaro Jr. (who still hears about that Lee trade), would love to see Aumont blossom into a late-inning force in 2013
Diekman combined two very good months with two bad months, leading to pedestrian numbers for 2012.
Here were Diekman's earned run averages per month for May, June, July and September (he did not pitch in August): 5.68, 2.08, 7.11, 1.80.
Diekman will need to show the Phillies much more consistency to make the team out of spring training given the addition of Adams and the presumed health of Bastardo.
Schwimer is another arm in the Phillies system, nothing more.
He has made 47 appearances for the Phillies in the past two seasons, 35 of them coming in 2012. His career earned run average is 4.62, and his career walks and hits per innings pitched is 1.397.
Schwimer will need to dominate in spring training to have a reasonable chance to start the season in the major leagues.
Rosenberg struck out nearly a batter an inning in 25 innings pitched in 2012. But he also walked 14 batters and gave up 17 runs, all of them earned.
It would not be out of the question for Rosenberg to earn one of the last bullpen slots, but he will have to pitch very well in Clearwater to make that happen.
The 35-year-old left-handed specialist joined the Phillies on May 16 and posted very solid totals until being shut down in September due to a right knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery.
Prior to the surgery, Valdes struck out 35 batters and walked only five in 31 innings pitched on his way to a 2.90 earned run average and a record of 3-2.
If Valdes is healthy, he will likely be given the opportunity to challenge for one of the last bullpen spots.
Justin De Fratus
De Fratus missed much of 2012 recovering from an elbow injury, but got back in time to be called up in September.
Little can be surmised from the 10.2 innings he pitched, but De Fratus' status as a well-regarded prospect before his injury will probably be taken into consideration as he contends for a bullpen slot.
Ruiz had—by far—his best statistical season in 2012. He was called upon to bat much higher in the order than in past seasons due to the injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Ruiz came through, finishing with 16 home runs, 68 RBI and a .325 batting average in only 114 games.
The suspension raises the question of what Ruiz will do if compelled to play "clean" going forward. Ruiz will turn 34 in January; catchers are especially not known to age gracefully given the grueling physical demands of the position they play.
At most, he will be eligible to play in 137 games; more likely, he will play in 115 or so.
It remains to be seen if Ruiz can provide the same kind of production in 2013 while toeing the MLB's PED line.
Erik Kratz did not make anyone forget Carlos Ruiz while Ruiz was injured in 2012, but he may have reminded some of how Chris Coste used to provide sneaky power from the backup catcher position.
Kratz will have to do more than that in 2013, at least to begin the season, as he will more than likely be the starting catcher while Ruiz serves his suspension.
Though his .248 average was only OK, Kratz's nine home runs in only 141 at-bats indicates that he can drive mistakes.
The Phillies need a strong April from Kratz given the circumstances.