The Philadelphia Phillies are finishing this season in last place primarily because of poor starting pitching.
Cole Hamels did have a wonderful season and Cliff Lee was on his way to a solid year before going down with an elbow injury at the end of July. Outside of their two horses the starting staff has given almost nothing to Ryne Sandberg.
Philly is the first MLB team since 2012 with two pitchers making 30 starts and finishing with an ERA+ of less than 85.
Year Lg Tm #Matching 2014 NL Philadelphia Phillies 2 A.J. Burnett / Kyle Kendrick 2012 AL Cleveland Indians 2 Ubaldo Jimenez / Justin Masterson 2012 AL Kansas City Royals 2 Bruce Chen / Luke Hochevar 2012 NL San Francisco Giants 2 Tim Lincecum / Barry Zito 2011 NL New York Mets 2 Chris Capuano / Mike Pelfrey
Kyle Kendrick posted a sub 3.00 ERA and 3-to-1 K/BB rate in the 2nd half while earning his first roster spot on an MLB All-Star team.
While besting his career high in strikeouts by 32 this year the Phillies 7th round pick in 2003 is their ideal #4 starter for next year. A $4.5 million invoice for a quality starter in a big market is a nice get for the Philadelphia management.
Mike Lieberthal was a big-time prospect for the Phillies while playing in Reading and Scranton in the early ’90s. I appreciated that even though I was an annoying little kid running around the stadium he was always gracious enough to honor my autograph requests.
Lieberthal averaged only 6 HRs/550 ABs in the minors but developed the power stroke at The Vet and scorched 31 HR in his age 27 season. There have been only 4 catchers in MLB history to go 30 HR, 30 2B and .300 Batting Average in a season (astonishingly short list below).
Unfortunately Mike’s career in Philly overlapped exactly with the doldrums of the team, ala Don Mattingly in The Bronx. The Fregosi, Dykstra, Schilling led Phillies won the pennant the year before Mike got the call-up. Over the next 13 years as Lieberthal caught pitches originated from the palms of Matt Beech and Mike Mimbs the squad shockingly posted 8 losing seasons. Mike left for LA after the ’06 season and the Phillies commenced their run of 5 consecutive NL East crowns. “If I didn’t have bad luck I’d have no luck at all.”