Completing the Phillies Rotation

Yesterday, the Phillies announced that they simply couldn’t go any longer without Juan Pierre and so they decided to acquire his clone, Ben Revere. It cost them Vance Worley, which opens up a rotation spot for a new face. We still have a long ways to go in the off-season, so the team could very well sign another starter to replace Worley. But for this piece, let’s assume they replace him internally and check out their options.

As of now, Kyle Kendrick is presumed to be the fourth starter. He has managed to post better than league average ERA marks in three of his five seasons as a starting pitcher, though his FIP, xFIP and SIERA marks are all significantly worse. This past season, he finally improved his skills into respectable territory, as his strikeout rate shot above 6.0 for the first time, possibly the result of increased usage of his change-up. Given his veteranness (why isn’t this a word?) and decent performance history, it would be a surprise if he didn’t open the season in the rotation, and likely as the number four.

One of the top contenders likely to battle for the fifth spot is Tyler Cloyd, who made his Phillies debut this year. The 25-year old posted pretty good skills over his 33.0 innings, but an astronomical HR/FB ratio inflated his ERA. His strikeout rate surged after his call-up, which is unusual, and his chances for long-term success given his weak fastball velocity (just 86.2 miles per hour this year) and fly ball tendency do not seem very good. He looks pretty risky.

Jonathan Pettibone is another name appearing on depth charts as a possible option. The 22-year old threw 42.1 innings at Triple-A this season, posting a mediocre strikeout rate and poor walk rate. He hadn’t struggled with his control in his previous three stops, so he would likely benefit from some additional time at the level.

The Phillies acquired Ethan Martin from the Dodgers as part of the deadline deal for Shane Victorino. The 23-year old hasn’t thrown a pitch at the Triple-A level and has battled major control problems, while his strikeout rate has declined at each level beginning in 2011 at High-A. He is clearly not ready and should be considered a longshot for a rotation spot out of spring training.

Last on the list is the southpaw Adam Morgan, who might fit better on the Washington Nationals as he could party in the hip Adams Morgan neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Morgan has even less experience than Martin, having thrown just 35.2 innings at Double-A. He dominated at High-A this year, striking out 140 batters in just 123.0 innings, but not surprisingly, he couldn’t maintain that rate after being promoted to Double-A. From a performance standpoint, he should be ahead of Martin, but should also receive more seasoning.

Kendrick looks like the clear leader to emerge as the fourth starter, but isn’t exactly someone to target in fantasy leagues. Given his age, upper minors experience and cup of coffee with the Phillies, Cloyd is likely the favorite at the moment to land the fifth slot. However, I don’t expect him to repeat that 8.0+ strikeout rate and given his extreme fly ball ways, I would shy away from him as well. So there you have it, you can pretty much ignore Phillies starting pitchers after their #3.

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Cloyd looks like a 4 to 4.25 FIP guy, James has him a little better but I wouldn’t be that optomistic.

Regardless, with halladay having questions, kendrick inconsistent and the unknown of cloyd the Phils could really use another SP. It would be best to have Cloyd in reserve in case of injury. I would imagine that Ruf is on the block to an AL team for even a back end/swing guy, maybe the astros and phils can hook up again, or the Rays?

Brad Johnson

I would be surprised if they managed to trade Ruf without him proving something in the majors.

The story is starting to remind me a little bit of Michael Morse. I’d advise them to hold.