There’s been a lot of hoo-hah (is that how it’s spelled?) lately about the question marks in the Mets’ rotation behind the great Johan Santana. The fuss has been made rightly so, in my humble opinion. But at the same time, maybe the fretting is a bit over the top.
If you think about it, the Phillies’ rotation has just as many question marks behind Roy Halladay. After rotation lock Joe Blanton went down yesterday with a tweaked left oblique, his ability to start the season is in question. This leaves the Phillies with a likely 2-5 rotation of Hamels, Happ, Moyer, and Kendrick. Watch how I can easily spin these four starters into question marks.
- Kyle Kendrick, who posted a 5.49 ERA in 30 major league starts in 2008. In those 30 starts, he managed to average only 5.2 innings per start, leaving him back in the minors the following season. Can he improve if given the chance this season or will his ERA once again top 5.00 while stressing the team’s bullpen?
- Cole Hamels regressed in 2009, posting a very mediocre ERA of 4.32 over 32 starts. Hamels actually netted a losing record on a team that won 93 games, which isnâ€™t easy to pull off. So far this spring his ERA is 5.57 in 21 innings. Will he rebound or continue his decline into mediocrity?
- JA Happ had a great season in 2009, albeit with only 23 starts under his belt. But could the dreaded sophomore slump set in? It would be hard for Happ to match some of his peripheral statistics from last season, and just about everyone expects regression.
- Jamie Moyerâ€™s 47 years old and not getting any younger â€“ he made his first major league start for the Cubs before I had my first birthday. His 4.94 ERA last season wasnâ€™t very impressive, and now a year older, the Phillies canâ€™t expect him to be better.
Sure, there are ways I could spin it to make it seem like all these guys may have solid years and lead the Phillies to another World Series. But we could also do this for the Mets’ “question marks”! Everyone seems to think Hamels will pitch more like his 2008 self this season, so why can’t Pelfrey once again post a sub 4.00 ERA? Oliver Perez was great in 2004 and very good three years later in 2007, so maybe he’s just on a three-year cycle and this season will be a big rebound. John Maine’s proven that when he’s healthy he’s a proven middle of the rotation starter, so why would we think any differently if he’s healthy this season? Can’t say much about Niese, but he’s still projected to be at least a middle of the rotation starter, and there’s no reason to be down on him yet.
Before I wrap this up, I need to mention the Phillies’ bullpen. Brad Lidge was terrible last season – absolutely atrocious. On Tuesday he received a cortisone shot and looks likely to start the season on the Disabled List. All this fretting about the Mets not having an 8th inning guy and the Phillies don’t even have a closer!
The point of this post isn’t to make the Phillies sound weak, but to point out that every team has its holes and every team has its question marks. This can all be spun in a positive or a negative light, and it’s easy to do so either way. So let’s relax, take a deep breath, and see how things look after a month of baseball. It’s beyond impossible to predict how any single player will play in a season, let alone an entire team. Enjoy the baseball that’s coming in less than a week and Let’s Go Mets!