Grading the Phantastic Phour and Phriends

Through two months of baseball, we’ve pretty much seen from the Phillies what we expected at the beginning of the season.

The starting pitching has been phenomenal, the offense has been shaky with the absence of Chase Utley and Domonic Brown prior to their returns and the bull pen has been hit or miss.

But with the two big bats back and the Phillies getting some great support from young relievers Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo along with a surprise surge from Ryan Madson in the closer’s role, that leaves us with the starting pitching.

Nothing has been off from what we expected out of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton/Vance Worley/Kyle Kendrick. The four aces have been as incredible as ever while Blanton was as shaky as expected. What’s been unexpected is the confidence Vance Worley has shown being thrown into a high-pressure spot of being the Robin to four Batman’s.

Here is a look at how the four aces have done and their revolving door of fifth starters through the first 11 starts barring injury.

The work ethic of Roy Halladay's has gone unmatched since his arrival to Philadelphia. It's what makes him the best pitcher in the game and the #1 on a staff of aces. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

Halladay – 6-3, 2.35 ERA, 84.1 IP, 86 K, 1.04 WHIP.

Doc has been exactly what the Phillies have expected from the reigning NL Cy Young award winner. Halladay (6-3) is leading the majors with four complete games (none are shut outs) and has been in and out of first with 86 strike outs.

What amazes people about Halladay is the fact he can consistently go out and give his team the best chance to win possible. What’s even more amazing is when the Phillies score four or more runs, they’re 22-2 but have managed to lose a lot more games despite the performances Halladay and the others have given them.

Halladay’s durablity has been a true testament to his abilities. In his 11 starts, he’s thrown less than 110 pitches twice and none under 100.

Lee – 4-4, 3.50 ERA, 74.2 IP, 86 K, 1.22 WHIP.

Lee’s return has been great but not glamorous. To put it in perspective, Kendrick has as many wins as Lee but that doesn’t really matter. Lee has also done a great job of keeping the Phillies in games despite not getting the results in the win columns.

But Lee has been hit with some poor performances. The big one was his six-walk performance on May 16. But Lee would also have games where he would strike out hitters in the double digits but get killed with a home run or two and his offense’s impotence, including the Phillies 3-0 loss on May 6 when Lee struck out a career high 16.

Oswalt – 3-2, 2.60 ERA, 45.0 IP, 29 K, 1.22 WHIP.

From my preseason prediction, Oswalt has been a pleasant surprise. I predicted a decline in production but barring his minor set-back with back issues, he has been really good.

Oswalt has found a way to remain affective despite his fastball’s velocity taking a small hit and his missed-bat ratios to drop. He’s also been getting hit a little more but hasn’t allowed himself to get damaged when putting stress on himself.

His 29 strike outs in eight starts (45 innings) is pretty alarming as he’s not getting his own outs like he did last season. His K/9 of 5.8 is way below his 7.4 career average.

But as the season moves on and his back gets better, Oswalt’s starts, which are already good, will only get stronger.

Hamels – 7-2, 3.01 ERA, 74.2 IP, 78 K, 1.02 WHIP.

Cole Hamels has been incredible and is on pace to make me look like a genius. The left-handed #4, with ace’s stuff, is leading the Phils in wins and has an ERA hovering slightly above 3.00.

The Phils have gotten some unexpected support from young starter Vance Worley. With Joe Blanton likely out until the All-Star Break, the Phils will rely on him as the fifth starter. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

What’s even more amazing is Hamels has allowed four runs or more runs only once since his debacle of a start he had in baseball’s opening week. Without that game, Cool Cole has an ERA of 2.38 in his last nine starts.

With Hamels’ production, he has a legitimate shot at leading the Phillies and possibly the league in wins. Suffering the same fate as Halladay, Hamels could have more wins provided his offense shows up. Facing other teams’ fourth starter, Hamels has been put in the best position to win every five days.

Blanton – 1-2, 5.50 ERA, 34.1 IP, 24 K, 1.57 WHIP.
Worley – 2-0, 2.14 ERA, 21.0 IP, 24 K, 1.02 WHIP.
Kendrick – 3-3, 3.20 ERA, 25.1 IP, 10 K, 1.38 WHIP.

Blanton was starting to find a groove after his terrible start before the injuries possibly ruined him for the year. Likely being out until the All-Star break, Blanton will give away to the young Worley, who had major league starts under his belt prior to this season.

The experience of Worley has given Charlie Manuel the confidence to start the 23-year old. Worley is 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA in three starts and two relief appearances combined.

Kendrick has actually been reliable this season despite being a mediocre pitcher. He’s only had two rough outings and one of them came in a 14-inning marathon loss back on May 1.

TODAY – Vance Worley will make his fourth start of the season against the Mets. Pitching for New York is left-hander Jon Niese. Worley faced the Mets earlier this season, lasting seven inning and giving up two hits and five walks. Game time is 1:10 PM.

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