7 Phillies Pitchers and Realistic Expectations

Nathan PalatskyCorrespondent IIMarch 15, 2011

7 Phillies Pitchers and Realistic Expectations

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    CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 24:  Manager Charlie Manuel #41 of the Philadelphia Phillies blows a bubble and watches play against the Florida State Seminoles February 24, 2011 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Im
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt... What is and what isn't with the best 1-2-3-4 of the decade?

    They're not going to win 80 games. They're not going to have the top three Cy Young vote getters. They're not all going to stay healthy.

    They're not all going to win 20 games or make 30 starts. In fact, I bet they don't all make 25 starts.

    They will be good enough to win the NL East. They will be very difficult to beat in the playoffs.

Roy Halladay, the Ace Among Aces

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 16:  Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks down against the San Francisco Giants in Game One of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 16, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    2010: 21-10, 2.44 ERA, 1.041 WHIP, 250.2 IP, 219 K

    Best case scenario 2011: 22-8, 2.50 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 230 IP, 209 K

    Halladay just had his first playoff experience, which was phenomenal, but he ended the season with 272.2 innings pitched. That's a career high, and he is 33 years old.

    He is still a machine, with the league's best conditioning program, and he will still be one of the best pitchers in baseball, but there is cause for concern. The Phillies might do well to give him an extra day of rest from time to time, especially in July and August if the Phillies have a comfortable lead in the division.

Cliff Lee, the Prodigal Son Returns

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    CLEARWATER, FL - MARCH 06:  Pitcher Cliff Lee #33 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Bright House Field on March 6, 2011 in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    2010: 12-9, 3.18 ERA, 1.003 WHIP, 212 IP, 185 K

    Best case scenario 2011: 19-6, 2.91 ERA, 1.005 WHIP, 200 IP, 175 K

    Lee was good in 2010. He wasn't stellar. He looked bad against bad teams. That was the question with Lee. Why was he dominating the Yankees and then getting shelled by Baltimore?

    He passed up more money from several teams, including the Yankees, to come back to Philadelphia. This is where he wants to be, and he is back in the National League, which could bode well for his ERA. He is a top-10 starter, but age and workload are concerns.

Cole Hamels, the Kid Is Pretty Good Too

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    TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Pitcher Cole Hamels #35 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches against the New York Yankees during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 26, 2011 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    2010: 12-11, 3.06 ERA, 1.179 WHIP, 208.2 IP, 211 K

    Best case scenario: 15- 9, 3.05 ERA, 1.100 WHIP, 200 IP, 205 K

    The 27-year-old "kid" of the group has never won more than 15 games, or had an ERA under three, and he has been with this team longer than the other three combined, so his numbers are least likely to change.

    That being said, at 27, he has some room to grow. But even if his 2010 becomes the standard for the next four or five years, the Phillies can't complain.

    Don't expect more than 15 wins, or an ERA under three, but he will put up quality starts and, if he stays healthy, there's no reason to expect less than 200 K.

Roy Oswalt, the Forgotten Ace

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 23:  Roy Oswalt #44 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates after ending the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants in Game Six of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 23, 2010 in Philadelphi
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    2010: 13-13, 2.76 ERA, 1.025 WHIP, 211.2 IP, 193 K

    Best case scenario: 14-6, 2.80 ERA, 1.005 WHIP. 205 IP, 185 K

    Yes, his ERA was really that low last year. And in 12 starts for the Phillies, Oswalt 1.74 ERA and .895 WHIP and was 7-1.

    I call him the ugly duckling because, at some point, he got lost in Houston. Pitchers tend to do that, but he has been one of the more underrated starters in the game for the last half-decade.

    There is some room to regression considering his age and career workload, but 15 wins and an ERA around three are certainly possible, if he stays healthy.

Joe Blanton, the Ugly Duckling

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 20:  Joe Blanton #56 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts in the fifth inning of Game Four of the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at AT&T Park on October 20, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Ph
    Harry How/Getty Images

    2010: 9-6. 4.82 ERA, 1.417 WHIP, 175.2 IP, 134 K

    Best case scenario: 10-10, 4.50 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 175 IP, 140 K

    No pressure on Blanton, is there? He doesn't stick out of this group like Allen Iverson in Europe does he?

    Blanton will not be the only starter who fills this rotation slot. The Phillies have options, but he will start the season here and will do what he does. Expect around 10 wins and an ERA around 4.50. If the Phillies can deal with that, then he will stick.

    This reminds me of the 2008 New York Mets, but opposite. Every fifth day, Johan Santana would be on the mound and the team had a bit of a skip in its step. Now, every fifth day Joe Blanton takes the hill. It will be interesting to watch runs scored per start for Blanton as opposed to the others.

Ryan Madson, the Setup Man

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 23:  Ryan Madson #46 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts after giving up a solo homerun to Juan Uribe #5 of the San Francisco Giants in the eigth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Six of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB P
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    2010: 51 games, 15 holds, 5 saves, 2.55 ERA, 1.038 WHIP, 10.9 K/9

    Best case scenario, 27 holds, 7 saves, 2.35 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 11 K/9

    Madson is one of the better setup men in the game and would be the clear-cut closer if Brad Lidge falters. He is a rock in the 8th inning and is content with his role.

    Considering all four aces have a tendency to get through at least seven innings, Madson is likely to be taking a lot of games over directly from them.

    This means he is likely to be ahead a lot. Fantasy leagues know he is one of the best holds sources in the game, and the Phillies are happy to have him bridge the gap to their closer.

Brad Lidge, Closing the Door

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 21:  Brad Lidge #54 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts after defeating the San Francisco Giants 4-2 in Game Five of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at AT&T Park on October 21, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ha
    Harry How/Getty Images

    2010: 50 games, 27 saves, 2.96 ERA, 1.226 WHIP, 10.2 K/9

    Best case scenario: 43 saves, 2.31 ERA, 1.015 WHIP, 10 K/9

    As expected, Lidge's 2010 was almost a perfect split of his near-perfect 2008 and his catastrophic 2009.

    His 2010 was about what can be expected moving forward, with perhaps an uptick in saves due to the rotation handing over many close leads, and the offense having questions.

    I think he is a lock for 30 saves, barring injury, and the ERA should hang between 2.7 and 2.9. But Madson is waiting in the wings, just in case. Be sure he wont be allowed to sputter as long as he was in 2009. The leash will be shorter.