Cliff Lee showed his worth last night when he pitched a complete game, four-hit, one-run performance in a 4-1 win over the San Francisco Giants.
Cole Hamels, the MVP of the World Series last year, is currently 7-5 with a 4.42 ERA. His last start, giving up one run in eight innings in a 4-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 28, hopefully is a sign of upcoming starts. Hamels pitches Sunday in the series finale against the Giants against Barry Zito.
Sorry to look past the regular season, but most experts expect it is more of a question of when the Phillies will clinch the National League East, rather than if.
To have a better chance to win back-to-back World Series, or even get there, Hamels and Lee should be One and One A, like Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale in the 1960s for the Dodgers.
Lee seems easy going off the mound, so he probably will always defer to Hamels as the ace.
But look at the numbers. Lee and Hamels are close, with Lee possibly a little better. Lee is 8-9 with a 3.02 earned run average, while Hamels is 7-5 with a 4.42 ERA. Both have a 1.27 WHIP (walks/hits per nine innings).
Perception and performance will determine who will become the "ace" of the staff.
The only other question is what will be the rotation heading into September.
I am guessing Hamels, Lee, Blanton, Moyer, Happ/Martinez.
Not many teams have this problem, deciding on a quality fifth starter.
The Phillies have had a "bulls eye" on their back all season long.
With that rotation, all challenges should not be a problem.