Philadelphia Phillies Arms Struggle, but Incite Hope

Claire ReclosadoSenior Analyst IMay 12, 2009

DENVER - APRIL 10:  Starting pitcher Cole Hamels #35 of the Philadelphia Phillies is removed from the game by manager Charlie Manuel #41 after 3 and 2/3 innings against the Colorado Rockies during MLB action on Opening Day at Coors Field on April 10, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. Hamels collected the loss as the Rockies defeated the Phillies 10-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

When a team wins the World Series, the natural expectation is for that team to perform well the following season. It’s uncommon for the champions to return with a crippling weakness, but it happens.

Welcome to the Philadelphia Phillies of 2009. The World Champions have been less-than-stellar of late and the cause of this can be found standing in the middle of the diamond. The bats may be potent, while inconsistent, but the starting rotation is appalling.

The Phillies are in the bottom three in the National League giving up 156 runs with a 5.39 ERA and are dead last in home runs allowed (53).

Ace Cole Hamels has an ERA of 6.17—definitely not World Series MVP numbers. Sad thing is that Hollywood Hamels does not own the worst ERA of the starters. Actually, only Brett Myers posted better numbers with a 4.81 ERA, owns the best ERA on the team, although it’s slightly worse than the league average.

The once reliable veteran, Jamie Moyer, has the most wins (three) of all the Phillies’ starters, but has the team-high 7.26 ERA.

So what’s happening with the starters? Was it the extra month of work? The offseason distractions? Whatever the cause, there must be a solution.

Each pitcher has had games where they were dominant. Even fifth starter Chan Ho Park showed he was worthy by engaging in a pitcher’s battle with the Mets’ Johan Santana. Park pitched six innings of one-hit ball without giving up a run.

The ability is there and the ballplayers to fix what’s wrong—quick. The offense can’t and hasn’t be able to carry the non-lethal Phillies’ arms.

If the starting rotation was undeniably horrible, then fans can boo and everyone will accept the fact that last year was last year and it is time to move on. The curious thing is that the starters have had moments of brilliance—moments that injected patience into the veins of Phillies followers.

True, the rotation is struggling, but they will find their way back to stability. Whether or not it will be too late is yet to be seen.