Crash Bag Vol. 44 – The Best Phillies Rotation

This week was a quiet one if you weren’t Jerry Dipoto despite it being the GM’s meetings. So with that, some questions.

@MichaelStubel: You’re tasked with putting together a rotation comprised of Phillies starters from the post-integration era. Who makes the cut?

I laid some rules for this exercise before starting.

  • The pitcher had to spend some of their prime with the Phillies, I couldn’t use Pedro’s prime just because he was on the 2009 Phillies.
  • I was looking for an average prime era season from the pitcher, not just a one year outlier.
  • I get the pitcher vs the batters of their era. I didn’t want to figure out Robin Roberts vs 2010’s era batters.

My first search was to find the top single season pitcher bWAR for Phillies pitchers to get a list of candidates. Then to remove innings as a driver I sorted it by ERA+ as well to get a list of candidates: Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts, Roy Halladay, Jim Bunning, Cliff Lee, Chris Short, Cole Hamels, and Curt Schilling.

Carlton is the easiest call. For how much he is revered (deservedly so), Halladay only had two good years in Philly. He was incredibly dominant in those two years so he makes it. From 1950 to 1954 the average Robin Roberts season was 42 G, 39 GS, 327 IP, 2.87 ERA, 8.5 bWAR. He may not have the flashiest strikeout totals but he led all major league pitchers in the 50s in bWAR and IP, was 2nd in total strikeouts and 2nd in lowest BB%, he makes my rotation. Looking at the remaining names, Short and Hamels just don’t have the upside. I am going to take Cliff Lee because I think his 2011 was just ridiculous. This leaves Schilling vs Bunning. In the end it comes down in this exercise for me to getting their Phillies years. Arizona Schilling is easily in, but I am also looking at Bunning’s 1964 to 1967 stretch with the Phillies and I am just not going to pass that up.

So there it is Steve Carlton, Roy Halladay, Robin Roberts, Cliff Lee, and Jim Bunning.

@MisterZoomer: What’s a fair way to handle international signings that doesn’t result in imbalance (i.e. Yanks, Dodgers, etc. sign everyone) but fairly compensates the kids in Latin America and guys like Ohtani. How would that affect the domestic draft or is it one system for all?

The first question is who are we making this fair for? Are we making it fairer for competitive balance? Are we making it fairer for players? Are we making it fairer for owners? Long we have held to drafts and spending limits as pathways to competitive balance, but in reality they have worked to suppress spending on international players. The big drive of big markets into spending on international prospects has been the functional hard cap on major league spending (luxury tax). Signing bonuses are not included in this number so it allows teams to spend their muscle beyond where they are capped. With this my solution would be to remove caps on international spending and just include signing bonuses into the luxury tax calculation. Maybe you put in a rule where it must be a minor league or major league deal. Big markets could still throw their weight around internationally, but that would be less weight they could throw around in trades and free agency. For small market teams they can bid competitively in the international market where their dollar could go further while not being punished because they aren’t near the luxury tax mark.

@KeithWinder: Three bold predictions for the farm system during 2018.

  1. Seranthony Dominguez pitches in the Phillies bullpen late in 2018. Injuries have limited Dominguez’s innings, so he won’t be facing an unlimited amount of innings in 2018. I expect the Phillies to be more competitive in the 2018 season, and in September I see the Phillies reaching down for Seranthony as a fireballing reliever to help out the back of the bullpen to close out the season.
  2. The Reading Phillies go on a hot streak to make the playoffs behind Adonis Medina, Sixto Sanchez, and Ranger Suarez in the rotation. Cornelius Randolph hits 25 HRs on the season thanks to a hot August to power the offense. We are not sure how much of the power is real.
  3. Jhailyn Ortiz’s 28 home runs mark the 3rd straight year that the Lakewood home run record is broken. Ortiz gets off to a slow start in April, but I get a lot of questions in August about why he is not in Clearwater.


@mekanoff: If the Phillies some how get Shohei Otani, would you play him in the field on days he is not pitching, and if so which position?

Probably 1B. I would pitch him on this type of playing schedule:

Day 1: Pitch (~3 PA)

Day 2: Pinch hit (1 PA)

Day 3: Start 1B (4 PA)

Day 4: Start 1B (4 PA)

Day 5: Pinch hit (1 PA)

On the days he plays first you just deal with Hoskins in the outfield. You want him focusing on pitching so you clear the days before and after he starts as games he doesn’t play the field. That is somewhere on the order of 15 PA a week or about 400 PA on the season.

@mweintr: You quoted me on the wrong question last week in the Crash Bag, so I’ll ask again: Opening Day lineup next season?

2B Cesar Hernandez

SS J.P. Crawford

CF Odubel Herrera

1B Rhys Hoskins

RF Aaron Altherr

LF Nick Williams

3B Maikel Franco

C Jorge Alfaro

This is at least what I would run out if they don’t trade Cesar Hernandez, which I would put at the most likely outcome right now (I think like 60/40 towards him staying). I think if Cesar is traded and Kingery is up, they jump Herrera to lead off, bump everyone up and put Kingery in the 7 hole.

@joelrineer: Sell me on one player stock you’d buy now before it goes up and one player stock you’d sell before it goes down

I am going to stay in my wheelhouse of Phillies prospects.

Buy: If you haven’t already bought in on Adonis Medina, you might want to do that now. He will probably be 4th or 5th on most prospect lists this offseason which will obscure the fact that he is not only a Top 100 prospect, but may be close to a Top 50 prospect. He does not have Sanchez’s raw stuff, and he is a bit older. However, he has plenty of fastball and his feel for pitching and secondary pitches are better. He profiles as a #3 starter with 3 plus or better pitches, but there is enough here that he could be a low end #2 if things go perfect.

Sell: It is hard to know what still has value, so sell Alberto Tirado and Dylan Cozens if you have any stock left, but those probably both have already cratered. As for guys riding high to sell. I don’t think J.D. Hammer will be on many lists this year, but he is currently on MLB’s top 30 and his name is said a lot. I think he could be a fine reliever, maybe even a setup guy, but the control doesn’t appear to be sharp and the stuff just isn’t that special when compared to the modern MLB reliever. There is so much that can go wrong between hi-A and the majors that I am just not going to buy in if people are selling him highly.

@dbmagazine: With the offensive core mostly falling into place, should Klentak abandon the org/his philosophy and buy top-level pitching w/ longterm deals when/if available?

Abandon the philosophy is a bit drastic, but should they look to buy pitching? Yes, and I think they will. I don’t think the Phillies expected the hitting to out pace the pitching by this much and the pitching development outside of Aaron Nola has certainly been a disappointment. I don’t think any of this wave of pitching outside of Nola and Vince Velasquez had realistic upside greater than a #4 starter (maybe a low end #3), so they still would be looking for high end pitching regardless. The thing right now is that they need a front line starter and they need depth. My personal choice on the depth would be to keep with the 1 year trade deals and see what it would take for the Blue Jays to part with J.A. Happ who is both good and left handed. As for what kind of pitching to buy, I would much rather spend in prospects or money to get a top guy than to get a bunch of smaller pieces. Right now in free agency that is maybe Yu Darvish, but might not even be him. On the trade front it is the usual names who may be available like Gerrit Cole, Chris Archer, and Marcus Stroman. It is hard to predict who will be available, but if someone young and could hits the market, they should move on it.

Leave a Reply


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Romus

    November 17, 2017 04:20 PM

    The question o Ohtani and his usage:
    If I recall Otani did not hit every every day he wasn’t pitching.
    I saw somewhere, that the NPL teams normally, in their regular season, play a six-game-a-week schedule.
    Pitchers pitch once in that six game sequence or in a six-man rotation if you will..
    So a pitcher will normally have had six off days before their next start.
    Ohtani followed that schedule and did a DH duty for a max of 3 games, sometime fewer depending on how he felt
    So Ohtani could start a game on Sunday, take Monday off…..then Tues/Wed or Thur do his DH duties …then on Friday and Saturday have down days and then back to pitch on Sunday.
    Understand that was his schedule when he was fully healthy before last season, which he had to nurse the ankle and hamstring issues.
    Perhaps he started breakig down last year due to the previous years workloads.
    What happens next year in MLB will be interesting to see.

    • Eddie

      November 19, 2017 07:38 PM

      This is correct. Even in his heaviest-workload season, 2016, Ohtani was on schedule that gave him three days of complete rest for each start on the mound, and then DHed 3 days a week. Note that they kept that rest schedule even in the Japan Series, so it really does seem likely that is necessary. Convert that to MLB and you’re looking at probably one start a week and no pinch-hitting, especially if you’re asking him to play the field at a new position. The schedule Matt proposes is pretty unrealistic (though granted, most writers are saying much the same thing).

      Personally, I’d just use him as a PH 2-3 times a week, maybe DHing a few times when in AL parks.

  2. tom

    November 17, 2017 06:57 PM

    I agree with your idea of Ohtani’s usage 100%. I think he may add more value to a NL team than a AL team if used this way as he frees you to go with only 12 normal position players and carry the extra pitcher.

  3. larry

    November 19, 2017 08:02 AM

    actually robin roberts is the easiest call. i don’t think people know and how valuable he was.
    WAR for Pitchers
    1950 NL 7.3 (1st)
    1951 NL 8.0 (1st)
    1952 NL 8.3 (1st)
    1953 NL 9.8 (1st)
    1954 NL 9.0 (1st)
    that is a peak


    even thought those two years aren’t flukes.for me 2 seasons for hallady makes it tough for me to put him on an all time team

    *i know you said pre integration…but you can’t mention all time phillie rotation without an asterisk for Pete Alexander
    Wins Above Replacement
    1911 NL 8.0 (2nd)
    1912 NL 6.4 (5th)
    1913 NL 6.3 (3rd)
    1914 NL 8.9 (1st)
    1915 NL 10.8 (1st)
    1916 NL 11.7 (1st)
    1917 NL 9.9 (2nd)

    • Steve

      November 19, 2017 09:29 AM

      Halladay is in. His 2 years were that good.

      • larry

        November 20, 2017 08:00 AM

        looking a little further, Halladay maybe in because the Phils don’t have another choice..Hamels is good for a long time, but never great, but you probably have to knock Lee off before Halladay anyway..after that you had guys with a few good years but no awesome peak or 4-5 pretty good years

    • Andrew R.

      November 19, 2017 12:17 PM

      Depending on which metrics you use, Robin Roberts’ peak 5-year run is better than Koufax’s peak 5-year run. And everybody worships Koufax as a god.

      • Romus

        November 20, 2017 10:00 AM

        Never realized it how similar they were..
        Roberts–5yr best- 42.4bWAR
        Koufax—5yr best- 42.4bWAR

    • Major Malfunction

      November 20, 2017 02:07 PM

      Looking at Carlton’s 1972 season while oogling, that season is just amazing in so many ways. At one point during the season, he had a 5-6 record with a 3.12 ERA and just came off a loss where he gave up 6 runs in 4 innings.

      He then ran off 23 starts on THREE DAYS REST with 17 complete games! He proceeded to go 18-2 with a 1.59 ERA over 198 innings. What would today be considered a workhorse season, he accomplished it in a little over 3 months. He then had 6 more starts to close out the year and naturally, they were all complete games. 27-10, 41 GS, 30 CG, 346 IP, 8 SHO.

      Also was the last pitcher in MLB history to throw 300 innings in a season (1980). I’m glad I was old enough to have watched him play.

  4. Steve

    November 30, 2017 01:20 PM

    Is this site still active?

    • Mike Fassano

      November 30, 2017 02:08 PM

      I’m thinking that Matt is on vacation.

      • Chris S

        November 30, 2017 03:26 PM

        Its been a slow drip of articles for the past month and a half. There are also other writers besides Matt. I know there isn’t a whole lot to write about, but only 6 articles over the past month and none in the last two weeks?

      • Romus

        November 30, 2017 05:43 PM

        Of the 15 authors on the board in the upper right side menu…..11 have moved on to other opportunities or obligations, and so right now there are, it seems, 4 active writers.

    • Matt Winkelman

      November 30, 2017 07:37 PM

      I should probably should have put up a post about it, but I have had some things going on that have taken away from my ability to write. That coupled with the holiday week have led to a large gap in coverage.

      • Mike Fassano

        November 30, 2017 07:56 PM

        Take your time. When you’re ready, we’ll be here.

      • Chris S

        December 01, 2017 10:04 AM

        Thanks for the update hope all is well in your world Matt! Take your time and I’ll still check daily for the awesome articles that you all write!

Next ArticleMLB Non-Tender Deadline