Top of Phillies Rotation Among Best in Wild Card Era

After Cole Hamels threw another gem last night, it became clear that this is by far the best rotation the Phillies have had during this four-year run of theirs.  And it’s even better when you consider the pitchers at the top of that rotation: Hamels, Roy Halladay, and Roy Oswalt.

In a playoffs, you almost never see a fifth starter, and rarely need the fourth.  That means teams with front-loaded rotations are built that much better for the playoffs.  Like, for example, the 2001 Diamondbacks, who had Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, followed by a bunch of slop.

So I got to thinking, who has had the best front-loaded rotation in the Wild Card era?

The Phillies are right in the mix.  Hop over the jump to see the comparison.

There are three teams we considered: the afeormentioned 2001 Diamondbacks, the 1995 Braves, and your 2010 Phillies.  I’m sure someone will kindly point out a team we missed, but the D-backs immediately come to mind when you think of stacked, front-line starters.  And, of course, the Braves of the mid 90’s are known for having tremendous pitching, with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz.  1995 was the year they put it all together and won their only World Series.

Let’s look at how those two teams stack up when compared to the Phillies top three starters.  Oh, and it should be noted, we left out all of those saber nerd stats and went with ones that people actually understand.

                               ERA        WHIP   K/BB

Roy Halladay    2.36       1.05       7.00

Roy Oswalt         3.09      1.07       3.36

Cole Hamels      3.06      1.16        3.48

                               ERA        WHIP   K/BB

Randy Johnson  2.49    1.00       5.24

Curt Schilling     2.98     1.07        7.51

                               ERA        WHIP   K/BB

Greg Maddux      1.63        0.81        7.87

Tom Glavine       3.08        1.24        1.92

John Smoltz        3.18        1.23        2.68

The obvious difference that jumps out here is that the D-backs only have Schilling and Johnson listed.  Their next best starter was Albie Lopez with an ERA of 4.00.  After him, they had two starters with ERAs over five.  That makes the comparison a little difficult because, when adding Lopez's stats in, their numbers jump up significantly.

As a whole, the Phillies have the highest average ERA at 2.84, but but have the same WHIP (1.09) as the Braves, and a K/BB ratio of 4.6/1, which is second to Schilling and Johnson's ridiculous  6.3:1 ratio.  Of course, when adding in Albie Lopez, the D-backs have the highest ERA (3.16) of the group and the same 1.09 WHIP.

It’s clear that Maddux had the best season of any pitcher listed here.  A 1.63 ERA, a WHIP well under one, and an almost 8:1 K/BB ratio.  After him, however, Glavine and Smoltz had ERAs of 3.08 and 3.18 respectively, with WHIPS over 1.20 and low K/BB ratios.  Still very strong numbers, but not nearly as dominant as those of the other pitchers listed here.

The Phillies, on the other hand, have three guys (whose seasons not are completed yet) with strong numbers across the board.  Roy Halladay’s ERA is second only to Maddux’s, while Cole Hamels’ outstanding WHIP of 1.16 is the highest among the three Phillies starters. 

Schilling and Johnson are an undisputable 1-2 punch, both with ERAs under three and ridiculous strikeout to walk ratios (they struck out a combined 665 batters in 2001).  However, the D-backs' rotation dropped off significantly after their starts, whereas the Phillies and Braves both have three “ace" type pitchers.  But even with Maddux’s dominance, I’d personally favor the Phillies rotation, that has second and third starters with better numbers, both with World Series experience, and one with an MVP award.

Which rotation would you rather have going into a playoff series?  Did we miss someone?  Let us know in the comments.

No matter what your choice is, it’s clear that the 2010 Phillies belong in this conversation.


7 Responses

  1. Oswalt actually has a lower ERA than Halladay if you’re going by only his starts as a Phillie and not his starts as an Astro. It’s pretty sick if you think about how good this rotation is.
    The only thing that really matters to me, though, is that our rotation is better than the Yankees’. The Padres are probably the closest thing to us this year pitching-wise, and they’re irrelevant because the Rockies are gonna win the Wild Card.

  2. i thought about including his phillie only starts, but i think it’s fair to look at how he has performed over the full season. typically guys get a boost for a few starts, before settling back in. see cliff lee last year.
    either way, he’s good.

  3. As much as i HATE the entire god awful city, what about the 2001 NY yankees? Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettite, and Ted Lilly(even though he was not/is not on any of these other pitchers level)…..

  4. Its a great point, and honestly is extremely exciting to see how great this rotation is. However, it would be interesting to see how the front 3 of the Phillies match up with the other playoff contending teams’ top 3 starters. You really have to think that the Phillies still have the best top 3 out of any of the contending teams. In the NL the Braves’ pitching has bee good, but not as good as the Phillies, and they don’t have nearly the 1-2-3 punch that we do. The padres have been very good as well, but again, they just do not have the caliber of the Phillies’ pitching. Not even the Yankees have as good a rotation, and quite frankly, their rotation (outside of C.C.) has got to be a huge question mark going into the postseason. The other AL rotations of the Twins, Rangers and Rays are not even close to the Phillies top 3.
    Anyone else glad the Cardinals look like they won’t even be near the postseason this year? That rotation in a short series is pretty scary.

  5. 01 Yankees weren’t as good at the top as the 10 Phillies are. It’s honestly not close, either. And that’s not to take away from the 01 Yankees, because they were damn good. It just speaks to how good the 10 Phillies are.

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