Ever since Game Five of the 2011 NLDS, the Philadelphia Phillies have ceased to be the powerhouse that they once were. They have gone quickly from being the powerhouse of the National League to becoming a bottom dweller in baseball. Although the outlook for the Phillies does not look great for this upcoming season due to the high competition in the National League East, the Phillies may not be as bad as they were last year due to an improved pitching staff.
At the forefront of the Phillies pitching staff sits Cole Hamels. Ever since the 2014 trade deadline, there have been many trade rumors surrounding Hamels. However, at this point in the offseason it seems that Philadelphia can expect to see him on the mound on opening day. With the return of Hamels comes the return of one of the top pitchers in baseball. Last year Hamels mounted an ERA of only 2.46, which placed him within the top ten in the league in ERA. Along with his top-tier ERA, Hamels achieved one of the highest wins above replacement (WAR) statistics amongst pitchers in the whole league by posting a 6.62 WAR. At Hamel’s age and due to the consistency that he has shown in these past few seasons, there is no doubt that he will continue his success and dominance this upcoming season.
Along with the assured dominance of Cole Hamels returns a healthy Cliff Lee. Last year, the Phillies pitching staff struggled with the absence of Lee as they boasted one of the highest ERAs in the league. Although Lee’s age and injuries are certainly a concern, if he is able to stay healthy throughout the majority of the 2015 season it is certain that he will only make a positive influence. Again, like Hamels, Lee’s consistency throughout his career has been a staple of his pitching. Before Lee’s injury he had been one of the most dominant pitchers in the league, boasting extremely low ERAs and extremely high WARs. So, if Cliff Lee is able to stay healthy throughout the season, expect another strong season out of the veteran southpaw.
The addition of Aaron Harang to the pitching staff should also prove useful for the Phillies in 2015, after what some have called Harang’s bounce-back year. Up until last year, Harang struggled not only in his performance on the field but also with injuries. Yet after being injured for a majority of the 2013 season, Harang had one of his better seasons in quite a while last season. With the hope of a potential late-career triumph, the Phillies look to exploit his previous bounce-back year with a one year contract in 2015.
Finally, to aid these three established veterans are David Buchanan and Jonathan Pettibone. Buchanan, a rookie last year, pitched valuable innings this past season. Buchanan is a high-profile young right-hander in the Phillies’ organization, who has been working tirelessly this offseason to earn his spot in the starting rotation. Pettibone, who has been in the majors since the 2013 season, looks forward to taking a jab at a spot in the rotation as well.
Trade talks will continue in Philadelphia throughout the remainder of the postseason, especially in the pitching department, as the Phillies look to try to make something out of this upcoming season. Rumors such as the possible addition of Chad Billingsley and Ryan Vogelsong to the rotation would make a huge impact on the already solid rotation. So, although postseason hopes are dismal for the Phillies, Phillies fans may have a little more to watch and look forward to this season than they did last.