The Phillies starting rotation situation is a spicy hot flaming pile of pain and torture which, no matter how hard you try, cannot be extinguished by your tears. There’s a beautiful alternate dimension in which pitchers don’t break and the Phillies enter the season with a rotation of Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang and the victor of a Clearwater competition for the fifth spot. In this barbaric world, however, Lee is out indefinitely, Billingsley will miss at least the first few weeks of the season as he continues to recover from his elbow surgeries, and Harang has missed time this spring due to back soreness. What was once a battle for the fifth rotation spot has evolved into a desperate allocation of rotation slots to any and all available pitchers in camp. As a result, David Buchanan suddenly finds himself thrust into the role of “rotation lock,” and, fortunately for the Phillies, he’s looked entirely deserving of his new role thus far.
By last September, the majority of Phillies fans had understandably shifted their attention to football or bonsai tree pruning or organizing the mysterious kitchen drawer or doing literally anything other than watch hideously awful baseball. By now those fans have no doubt caught up on the very few highlights they missed: the debut of Maikel Franco, the continued dominance of Kenny Giles and a surprise combined no-hitter in Atlanta. But there was another September surprise that received very little hype and is now one of the storylines I’ll be keeping a close eye on this spring: Luis Garcia.
This latest salvo of Cole Hamels analysis comes from Tony Blengino at FanGraphs. Blengino is a former stat wizard with the Seattle Mariners. The analysis gives off the appearance of thoroughness but it’s a simple FIP-ERA comparison that uses the assumption that the Phillies’ outfield defense was “reasonably strong” — a laughable assertion.
I don’t have the time right now to go into it in depth, but thought I’d pass along the link if you want something to hate-read. I may add more here when I have more time.
The Phillies will officially kick off Grapefruit League action against the Yankees at 1:05 PM ET this afternoon, ending a dreary winter and beginning what should be a dreary spring and summer.
Your lineups, via Steve Gross of The Morning Call and the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff:
It’s been more than a year since the exciting announcement that the Phillies front office added Scott Freedman to help improve their usage of analytics was paired with the endlessly mock-able revelation that he was actually an “extern” whose salary paid not by the Phillies but by Major League Baseball. While every other MLB team accepted the value of data analysis to some degree, it appeared from the outside that the Phillies relationship with analytics was much like that of a stubborn young child with broccoli leaving MLB and parents alike with no option but to force feed their obstinate charges. It was laughable and, frankly, embarrassing for analytically-minded Phillies fans, but sometimes even the tiniest step in a positive direction can result in momentum leading to positive change and maybe, just maybe, that’s what has occurred in the Phillies front office since the extern experiment.
In a roundtable discussion last week, my fellow Crashburn writers and I were given the task of answering this question: “Does Domonic Brown rebound from his horrid 2014? If so, to what degree?” I think I came up with a reasonable enough answer at the time, but the question stumped me and has been rattling around in my head ever since. This summer will see the 5th anniversary of Brown’s Major League debut and in those five years every aspect of his baseball career has been analyzed under a Philadelphia-sized microscope from his May 2013 breakout to his awful 2014 to management’s controversial handling of his early MLB career to his Dallas Cowboys fandom. For this reason, it caught me off guard to realize that the reason I struggled with the roundtable question about Brown’s future was this absurd fact: I no longer knew who Domonic Brown was as a baseball player. Maybe it was the fault of information overload or simply lazy recent analysis on my end, but I set out to update both my understanding of and expectations for Domonic Brown.
Over at HardballTalk, I argued that the Washington Nationals’ starting rotation — now with Max Scherzer in the mix — could challenge the 2011 Phillies as the best modern starting rotation. The 2011 Phillies’ (2.86) and 1992 Braves’ (2.95) rotations are the only ones to post a sub-3.00 ERA since 1990.