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Starting Pitching the Latest Cause for Concern for the Phillies

Since returning from the All-Star break on July 19, the Phillies have by far posted the worst starting pitching ERA among all 30 teams in the Majors at 6.55. And this is with a much-improved Cole Hamels, who has posted a 2.67 ERA in four starts since the break.

Among those 30 teams since the break, Phillies starters have posted the fourth-lowest strikeout rate at 15.5 percent and the third-lowest overall swing-and-miss rate at 17.3 percent. This has resulted in 15 home runs allowed, the second-highest amount by a National League team. Batters have also hit .372 on balls in play.

Here’s a look at the starters individually since the break (excluding the one spot start by Raul Valdes):

As a result, the Phillies are 4-17 (.190) since the break. The Phillies have had issues on just about every front including offense and in the bullpen, but the starting pitching is a new one at this point in the season. From the start of the season up to the All-Star break, the rotation compiled a 4.04 ERA — nothing to write home about, but not awful either, ranking 19th out of 30 teams. Comparatively, they struck out nearly 19 percent of batters and walked 7.5 percent.

With Roy Halladay close to beginning his rehab in the Minor Leagues, he may rejoin the rotation some time in early September, giving him four or five starts to audition not only for the Phillies but for other teams that may be interested in purchasing his services. The Phillies have two interesting decisions to make with Kendrick and Lannan, as their recent performances and overall track records may deter GM Ruben Amaro from tendering one or both contracts during the off-season. As a result, a 2014 rotation could include Hamels, Lee, Halladay on a new incentive-laden deal, Pettibone, and Martin, a cheap free agent acquisition (Jeff Karstens?), or a prospect (Adam Morgan?) who shines in spring training.