Looking at the Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation is something everyone will be doing all season. Why?
Because they could be the best starting rotation ever assembled.
What makes one say that?
Well let's take a look at each one.
Roy Halladay: good old No. 34 happens to be turning 34 years old this May, yet is still ranked as the No. 1 starting pitcher in all Major League Baseball.
And he is—the 2010 Cy Young Award in his cabinet proves it. The five consecutive seasons of 220-plus innings proves it. The 19 career shutouts and 58 career complete games prove it. At 34 years old by seasons end, this year could be Doc's greatest masterpiece. My prediction: 24-6, 1.85 ERA, 250-plus innings pitched,
Cliff Lee: No. 33, ironically turning 33 years old this season in August. Ranked the No. 5 best starting pitcher in all baseball. Ninety-five—what's that mean? That's how many walks Lee has surrendered since the beginning of the 2008 season. That's an average of just under 32 walks a season. Has a 7-2 cumulative postseason record with a 2.13 ERA. My prediction: 21-8, 2.40 ERA, 220-plus innings pitched.
Roy Oswalt: No. 44 turns 34 years old this August. Two 20-win campaigns under his belt and a 5-1 cumulative record in the playoffs with a 3.39 lifetime playoff ERA. Oswalt still seems to have plenty left in the tank, and he could have one of his finest seasons this year although I doubt he will duplicate his 20-win campaigns. He is perfect to pitch after Halladay and Lee. My prediction: 18-12, 2.85 ERA, 220-plus innings pitched.
Cole Hamels: No. 35 turns 28 this December. This is the guy in the rotation to watch. The youngest of the bunch, entering his sixth season, Hamels has really learned to pitch. He's also learned how to go about his business from watching Halladay last year and Lee in 2009.
I pity teams facing these four in row in a four-game set. My prediction: Hamels will be the best left-hander in baseball this season, going 22-5 with a 2.30 ERA, and 220-plus innings pitched.
Joe Blanton: No. 36 will be 31 years old this December. Blanton has yet to record 200 innings a season while in a Philadelphia uniform. He's done it twice in his career with Oakland and look for him to do it this season. Pitching behind the four aces make predicting what type of season he will have the most difficult.
His over-the-top arm angle and pitching style make him the perfect contrast to hitters from each of the four aces. The biggest obstacle for Blanton will be the first inning. Once through that, if he's got a lead he's likely to hold it. My prediction: 15-10, 4.10 Era, 200-plus innings pitched.
Yup, if you kept count, that's 100 wins and 41 losses I'm predicting for this starting rotation alone. I don't believe the bullpen will have too many decisions to figure in this year—precisely 21 if my predictions come true. Say the bullpen goes 10-11 this season, that would give the Phillies a 110-win season.
The offense will heavily affect this. It doesn't matter how good the starting pitching is; if you don't score a run you can't win the game. The Phillies should have no problem with that. But that's another story.