Tag Archives: A.J. Burnett

Phillies top seasonal performances of the 2010’s

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Bryce Harper‘s 35 homers in 2019 were the most by a Phillies player for any season during the 2010’s decade

 

Two weeks from today will be New Year’s Eve and we will be formally ringing out 2019 as well as the decade of the 2010’s.

A few weeks back, I presented a WAR-based list of the top 10 Phillies players of the past decade. With this piece, I’m going to look at individual seasonal performances.

Who provided the top home run seasons, stolen base seasons, strikout seasons during the course of the last 10 years of Phillies baseball?

Just another way to capture a period of time in franchise history. So, here are the top 10 individual season performances in a variety of categories by Phillies players during the 2010’s decade.

HOME RUNS

  1. Bryce Harper, 2019 – 35
  2. Rhys Hoskins, 2018 – 34
  3. Ryan Howard, 2011 – 33
  4. Ryan Howard, 2010 – 31
  5. Rhys Hoskins, 2019 – 29
  6. Domonic Brown, 2013 – 27
  7. Jayson Werth, 2010 – 27
  8. J.T. Realmuto, 2019 – 25
  9. Maikel Franco, 2016 – 25
  10. Marlon Byrd, 2014 – 25

RBIs

  1. Ryan Howard, 2011 – 116
  2. Bryce Harper, 2019 – 114
  3. Ryan Howard, 2010 – 108
  4. Rhys Hoskins, 2018 – 96
  5. Ryan Howard, 2014 – 95
  6. Maikel Franco, 2016 – 88
  7. Rhys Hoskins, 2019 – 85
  8. Raul Ibanez, 2011 – 84
  9. J.T. Realmuto, 2019 – 83
  10. Domonic Brown, 2013 – 83

RUNS

  1. Jayson Werth, 2010 – 106
  2. Jimmy Rollins, 2012 – 102
  3. Bryce Harper, 2019 – 98
  4. Shane Victorino, 2011 – 95
  5. J.T. Realmuto, 2019 – 92
  6. Cesar Hernandez, 2018 – 91
  7. Rhys Hoskins, 2018 – 89
  8. Odubel Herrera, 2016 / Jimmy Rolllins, 2011 – Ryan Howard, 2010 – 87

STEALS

  1. Ben Revere, 2014 – 49
  2. Juan Pierre, 2012 – 37
  3. Shane Victorino, 2010 – 34
  4. Jimmy Rollins, 2012  / Jimmy Rollins, 2011 – 30
  5. Jimmy Rollins, 2014 – 28
  6. Odubel Herrera, 2016 – 25
  7. Shane Victorino, 2012 – 24
  8. Ben Revere, 2013 / Jimmy Rollins, 2013 – 22

BATTING AVERAGE

(min. 300 PA’s)

  1. Carlos Ruiz, 2012 – .325
  2. Juan Pierre, 2012 – .307
  3. Ben Revere, 2014 – .306
  4. Ben Revere, 2013 – .305
  5. Carlos Ruiz, 2010 – .302
  6. Placido Polanco, 2010 – .298
  7. Odubel Herrera, 2015 – .297
  8. Jayson Werth, 2010 – .296
  9. Cesar Hernandez, 2017 / Cesar Hernandez, 2016 – .294

WINS

  1. Roy Halladay, 2010 – 21
  2. Roy Halladay, 2011 – 19
  3. Cliff Lee, 2011 / Aaron Nola, 2018 / Cole Hamels, 2012 – 17
  4. Cole Hamels, 2011 / Cliff Lee, 2013 – 14
  5. Aaron Nola, 2019 / Aaron Nola, 2017 / Jeremy Hellickson, 2016 / Cole Hamels, 2010 – 12

STRIKEOUTS

  1. Cliff Lee, 2011 – 238
  2. Aaron Nola, 2019 – 229
  3. Aaron Nola, 2018 – 224
  4. Cliff Lee, 2013 – 222
  5. Roy Halladay, 2011 – 220
  6. Roy Halladay, 2010 – 219
  7. Cole Hamels, 2012 – 216
  8. Cole Hamels, 2010 – 211
  9. Cliff Lee, 2012 – 207
  10. Cole Hamels, 2013 – 202

INNINGS

  1. Roy Halladay, 2010 – 250.2
  2. Roy Halladay, 2011 – 233.2
  3. Cliff Lee, 2011 – 232.2
  4. Cliff Lee, 2013 – 222.2
  5. Cole Hamels, 2013 – 220
  6. Cole Hamels, 2011 – 216
  7. Cole Hamels, 2012 – 215.1
  8. A.J. Burnett, 2014 – 213.2
  9. Aaron Nola, 2018 – 212.1
  10. Cliff Lee, 2012 – 211

SAVES

  1. Jonathan Papelbon, 2014 – 39
  2. Jonathan Papelbon, 2012 – 38
  3. Jeanmar Gomez, 2016 – 37
  4. Ryan Madson, 2011 – 32
  5. Jonathan Papelbon, 2013 – 29
  6. Hector Neris, 2019 – 28
  7. Brad Lidge, 2010 – 27
  8. Hector Neris, 2017 – 26
  9. Jonathan Papelbon, 2015 – 17
  10. Seranthony Dominguez, 2018 – 16

 

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Can the 2018 Eagles do what the 2009 Phillies could not?

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Despite Utley’s heroics the Phillies fell just short in repeat world title attempt

Tonight is the 2018 NFL season opener between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons. That would be the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, by the way. Those words still look and sound so glorious, do they not?

The Birds and their fans will celebrate their title one final time with the raising of the first-ever Super Bowl banner at Lincoln Financial Field this evening. But after that, the game will begin. The football calendar will officially turn to a new season.
In that new 2018 season the Eagles will be defending an NFL championship for the fourth time in franchise history. It marks just the second time in the last 35 years that a Philadelphia major pro sports team will attempt to repeat as a champion.
Philly fans remember well the last time it happened Just nine years ago the Philadelphia Phillies played the 2009 season as defending champions of Major League Baseball.
The long playoff run and Fall Classic triumph had been punctuated by a Halloween parade around City Hall and down Broad Street to Citizens Bank Park.
The Eagles experienced pretty much the same thing. A long playoff run, early February Super Bowl, parade this time up Broad Street from the stadium area and out the Ben Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum.
There was a shorter than normal off-season as the Phillies did the banquet and awards circuit that winter and then returned to Clearwater for spring training in February 2009. The Eagles had a month shorter off-season as well. While the Birds and their coaching staff were prepping for the Patriots, the rest of the NFL was already getting a jump on 2018 preparations.
As far as personnel were concerned, the 2009 Phillies returned largely the same cast of lead characters who had won the crown. The only change among starting position players came with Raul Ibanez replacing Pat Burrell as the left fielder.
On the mound, the biggest change at the start was that young lefty J.A. Happ stepped into the starting rotation in place of the Kyle Kendrick and Adam Eaton combination from the previous year.
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Lee arrived at the July 2009 trade deadline to provide a needed shot in the arm.
Those Phillies had to make a big injury adjustment when Brett Myers hit the DL for three months in late May. You probably won’t recall that they gave Antonio Bastardo five June starts, or that they signed Rodrigo Lopez and plugged him in for five July starts. But you will recall that they traded for Cliff Lee and signed Pedro Martinez in July, bolstering the rotation for August and beyond.
There was a World Series hangover at the beginning of the season. Six weeks in, the Phillies went through a stretch in which they lost six of eight games. On Friday, May 15, the 2009 Phillies woke up with a 16-16 record. And then it all changed.
Following that mid-May rough stretch, the Phillies went on a five-game winning streak. It began a stretch that saw the club capture 19 of their next 26, moving them to a season-best twelve games over the .500 mark and to a four-game lead in the NL East.
And then the bottom seemed to again drop out. A loss on Friday, June 12 began a horrendous stretch in which the club dropped 11 of 13 games. Despite falling to just three games over .500 they remained atop the division, but barely. With just a half-game lead, they once again turned things around.
From June 27 to the MLB All-Star Game break the Phillies went 11-4, hitting the break with their lead back up to four games. They didn’t let up when play resumed, winning their first five. It kicked off a 10-2 run that pushed their record overall to 58-40 and stretched their division lead out to seven games.

Though the team would drop eight of the next 11 contests, Lee had arrived to inject some life – not to mention a stopper to the rotation. He got the win in two of the three victories during that rough stretch.
The rest of the way, those 2009 Phillies were never seriously challenged within the division. Charlie Manuel‘s squad clinched a third straight NL East crown with a 10-3 romp over the Houston Astros at Citizens Bank Park on September 30 and then coasted through the final four games.
In the NLDS the Phillies faced a real challenge from the Colorado Rockies but fought them off in four tough games. Then for a second straight season, the club overcame the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS in five games.
For the first time in history the Phillies returned to the World Series for a second consecutive year. That is exactly what the Eagles will be trying to accomplish. It’s a tough road. There were ups and downs along the way. But the Phillies had the best team in the NL, and they proved it over the course of the long season and two tough playoff series.
The 2018 Philadelphia Eagles look very similar. The Birds are again one of the strongest teams in football, but there will be challenges along the way. They will take some hard shots. They might even go into a losing stretch of games.
But given health from most of the key players, there is no reason that in the end their talent cannot take them back for a shot at a repeat. The Phillies had that shot and came up just short.
In that 2009 World Series the Phillies ran into a talented and experienced New York Yankees squad. They even handed the Yanks a 6-1 thrashing in the opener at Yankee Stadium.
But New York got a gutsy performance from A.J. Burnett in Game Two to even the series, then out-slugged the Phillies to take two of three at Citizens Bank Park. Up by three games to two, the Yankees put the series away with a convincing 7-3 victory in Game Six back in the Bronx.
Thinking back on it, that World Series defeat was disheartening. The Phillies were no longer the world champions. But they were still a strong ball club. They would get a couple more serious shots at another ring. Though they came up short, it was a magnificent run.
This is what looms ahead for these Philadelphia Eagles. They are the champions, but there are other talented teams out there. The Eagles look right now to be the best team in the NFC East. Get into the playoffs, have Carson Wentz and most of the supporting cast healthy, and anything can happen.
The 2009 Philadelphia Phillies showed that repeating as a champion is not an easy task, even for a supremely talented team. But just because those Phillies came up short doesn’t mean this Eagles team will. It’s about fighting through a long season and earning a shot in the playoffs.
That’s all these Birds and the fans should be looking at right now. The game in front of them. The season ahead of them. Get that playoff spot and take a shot in January at the repeat. Fly Eagles, fly!

Phillies Christmas Stockings: Gifts or Coal?

Phillies Christmas stockings: coal or gifts?
It’s Christmas morning, and all across the Delaware Valley folks are waking to find presents under the Christmas tree and stockings stuffed with gifts. But what about the Phillies? For their 2014 performance, what did we leave in their TBOH Phillies Christmas stockings: gifts or coal?
For the good boys, the good performers who busted it hard all year and held up their end in trying to bring a winner to the fans, there will be gifts. For the bad boys, the poor performers whose play constantly let us down and led most directly to the losing season, there will be only coal. Here’s what every player who appeared in 2014 received:
BAD BOYS – COAL IN THEIR TBOH STOCKINGS 
Domonic Brown: the worst player on the roster in 2014, especially given his playing time. Also, easily the biggest disappointment, coming off what was hoped to have been a breakout 2013 All-Star campaign. His season was a disaster: a .235 batting average, .285 on-base percentage in 512 plate appearances. Hit just 10 homers, scored just 43 runs, and was the worst player on the roster in WAR.
Ryan Howard: a real shame to watch his deterioration. This man was a true force for a long time, 7 dominating seasons from 2005-2011. He needs to be remembered by fans for the peak performance over the long haul. But he is a shadow of his former self now. In 2014 only Brown was a worse WAR player among the regulars. He hit just .223 with a .310 on-base percentage. He was 2nd on the club with 23 homers, and was 4th in the NL with 95 rbi. But in 648 plate appearances, even these are disappointing figures.
Cody Asche: the 25-year old 3rd baseman played his first full season in 2014. He generally fielded his position well, but he basically brought nothing to the batting order of any consequence. Hit just .252 with a .309 on-base percentage. In 434 plate appearances he produced just 10 homers, 46 rbi, 43 runs scored, and stole 0 bases. He only even attempted one steal. That’s zero bases stolen for a 25-year old man. I know that’s not his game, but even 35-year old catcher Carlos Ruiz stole 4 bags.
Mario Hollands: the 25-year old rookie lefty reliever appeared in 50 games. Though he allowed fewer hits (45) than innings (47), he also walked 21, resulting in a 1.404 WHIP and the worst pitching WAR among those given any significant time on the mound.
Kyle Kendrick: I’ve never been one to beat up on KK, as many other Phillies fans have over the years. He is what he is, a #4 starter at best, a #5 on a contender. But in 2014 he was given significant innings, and he lived down to his potential. In 199 innings pitched over 32 starts, 3rd and 2nd most on the staff in those categories, he had a 4.61 ERA. Kendrick allowed 214 hits, and struck out just 121 batters.
It's coal in the stocking for AJ, gifts for Chooch (Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)
A.J. Burnett: brought in to be a veteran innings-eating #3 behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, he had to step into the #2 role with Lee’s injury, and he just wasn’t up to it most games. He did eat innings, leading the staff with 213.2, and he struck out 190 batters. But his ERA was 4.59 and he walked 96, resulting in a 1.409 WHIP.
Management: manager Ryne Sandbergwas dealt a bad hand of mismatched, injured, and aging players. But he didn’t do much to bring it together either. If these were grades, I’d give him an incomplete. He needs a more clean slate. But for now, can’t “gift” him. Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro Jr? Please. There isn’t enough of a coal supply available to appropriately fill those stockings.
More coal: John Mayberry Jr, Tony Gwynn Jr, Darin Ruf, Cesar Hernandez, Reid Brignac, Freddy Galvis, Jayson Nix, Maikel Franco, Ronny Cedeno, Aaron Altherr, Koyie Hill, Cameron Rupp, Grady Sizemore, Cesar Jimenez, Wil Nieves, Andres Blanco, B.J. Rosenberg, Phillippe Aumont, Luis Garcia, Sean O’Sullivan, Jonathan Pettibone, Ethan Martin, Brad Lincoln, Shawn Camp, Miguel A. Gonzalez, Jeff Manship, Hector Neris, Mike Adams
GOOD BOYS – GIFTS IN THEIR TBOH STOCKINGS
Cole Hamels: just 9 wins for the 30-year old lefty, but hardly his fault. He made 30 starts, allowing just 176 hits in 204.2 IP, striking out 198 and allowing just 59 walks. It added up to a 2.46 ERA and a 1.148 WHIP, and a pitching WAR value that was more than twice any other arm on the staff.
Jonathan Papelbon: the closer was outstanding with 39 Saves, a 2.04 ERA, a 0.905 WHIP, and a 63/15 K/BB rate over 66.1 innings. Some negative commentary and off-color antics aside, he has done everything asked of him in the closer role since being signed as a free agent.
Cliff Lee: I’m not holding the injury against him, hardly his fault. When on the mound, he was mostly himself. In 81.1 innings over 13 starts, the 35-year old lefty had a 72/12 K/BB ratio. He was hit more than usual, but the excellent control kept his ERA down to a 3.65 mid-level result.
Jerome Williams, Roberto Hernandez & David Buchanan: it’s all about expectation and production for these three. I didn’t expect anything, and I got something, although modest. Both Hernandez & Buchanan received 20 starts, kept their ERA’s below the 4.00 mark, and allowed about a hit per inning. Buchanan had a tidy 71/32 K/BB ratio for a 25-year old rookie, which was especially nice. Hernandez, a free agent who would have left after the season, ultimately yielded a 19-year old pitcher and 20-year old infielder in trade. Not a bad result all around. The 32-year old Williams was a very nice find, with a 4-2 record in 9 starts. He had a 38/17 K/BB ratio, and allowed just 48 hits in 57.1 innings. It all added up to a 2.83 ERA and 1.134 WHIP.
Chase Utley: the 35-year old 2nd baseman returned to the All-Star Game as the NL’s starter at 2nd, and led the team in WAR. A .278 average and 78 rbi were more than anyone expected from a player who appeared physically shot just a year ago at this time. His defense was also strong, as he was 2nd on the club in defensive WAR. A very nice bounce-back season for the fan favorite.
Jimmy Rollins: the 35-year old shortstop said goodbye at the top of the franchise all-time Hits list, and went out much as his longtime doubleplay partner produced. He was 2nd on the club in offensive WAR to Utley, producing a 17 homer, 68 rbi, 78 runs, 28 steal year. Then he yielded a pair of Top 5 club pitching prospects in trade. Goodbye Jimmy, we love ya. 
Carlos Ruiz: at 35-years old, Chooch has caught over 900 games, and he’s starting to show the wear and tear, at least in his offensive game where he hit just .252 with 6 homers in 445 plate appearances. But the respected team leader and fan favorite remains elite in the defensive game, leading the club in defensive WAR. He retains strong catch and throw skills, and his handling of the pitching staff is outstanding.
Ben Revere: the 26-year old centerfielder hit .306 and contended for the NL Batting crown for much of the late season. He also stole 49 bases and hit 7 triples. He clearly uses his speed well. But he has no pop whatsoever, hitting just 2 homers and 13 doubles in 626 plate appearances. His defensive game was disappointing, and will have to improve for him to retain value going forward.
Marlon Byrd: the 36-year old rightfielder led the club with 25 homers and was 2nd with 85 rbi. But his defense was below par, and his offensive production seriously declined post-All Star break as he had just 7 homers and 31 rbi in 247 plate appearances after mid-July. He is borderline “gift” over “coal”, and hopefully yields something of value in trade this off-season that makes us happier to have him on this side of the ledger.
The Bullpen: Antonio Bastardo (28), Jake Diekman (27), Justin DeFratus (26) and most especially Ken Giles (23) had teamed with Papelbon to make this one area of true strength for the team by season’s end. They combined for 233.1 innings in which they allowed just 179 hits. They struck out 294 batters while walking just 92.

Byrd Remains Phils Elder Statesman

Numerous rumors surround the Phillies oldest player
At various times in recent weeks, trade rumors involving the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles and other teams have swirled, but for now, Marlon Byrd remains the Philadelphia Phillies elder statesman on a roster still full of them.
Even with the trade of Jimmy Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers (still not finalized as of this morning, by the way) the Phils remain one of only two N.L. East teams with any players born in the 1970’s, and they have 5 of them.
The Mets have two such players,
  Bartolo Colon and recent free agent signee Michael Cuddyer. The Nationals, Braves, and Marlins have no players born in the 70’s.
Among the most likely National League contenders, the number of players born in the 70’s comes out in single-digits. John Lackey and Randy Choate with the Cardinals and A.J. Burnett with the Pirates are in the Central. 
Out in the West, adding JRoll would give the Dodgers 3 such players along with Juan Uribe and Joel Peralta. The defending champion Giants have 4 such players: Tim Hudson, Marco Scutaro, Javier Lopez, and Jeremy Affeldt.
As you can see, the vast majority of those aging players on the other N.L. rosters are pitchers. The Phillies quintet is made up of starting pitcher Cliff Lee (36) and 4 everyday position players: 2B Chase Utley (36), 1B Ryan Howard (35), C Carlos Ruiz (36), and Byrd (37).
In what truly is a new era in Major League Baseball, with drug testing limiting players to a more normal pace in the aging process, it has become more and more of a young man’s game. The Phillies are trying to get younger, but they still have much work to do.
The three oldest players in MLB in the 2015 season are expected to be free agent 1B/DH Jason Giambi who turns 45 in January, Mets pitcher Colon who turns 42 in May,  and free agent outfielder Ichiro Suzuki who turned 41 in October.
Three members of the over-40 club in the 2014 season have either retired or are expected to retire: Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Rockies reliever LaTroy Hawkins, and Angels outfielder Raul Ibanez.
The oldest living former Major Leaguer, baseball’s current all-time elder statesman, is ex-Boston Braves, Brooklyn Dodgers, and Pittsburgh Pirates utility man Mike Sandlock, who turned 99 years old back in mid-October.

AJ & KK: Innings Don’t Grow on Trees

Kendrick and Burnett were healthy rotation regulars in 2014

There has been a thought process floating around in some baseball circles that the more innings a team can get from it’s starting rotation, the more likely the team will have success.

One school of thought has floated the number of 1,000 innings as a goal for a starting rotation. If a team’s starters can accumulate 1,000 innings during a season, the team will usually win.

Most teams won’t reach the mark. Per KC Royals writer Craig Brown, between 2003-2012 just 1 in 5 teams reached the mark. 34% of those teams reached the postseason. More importantly, those teams averaged 87.4 wins among them. Clearly, the more innings your rotation gives, the better your chance of contending.

In 2014, the World Series champion San Francisco Giants starting pitchers totaled 978 innings pitched. But remember, the Giants won 88 games in the regular season, finishing in 2nd place, 6 games behind the Dodgers and tied for the NL Wildcard spots. The Dodgers got 972.2 innings from their starters.

In 2014, in the NL East Division, among the Phillies rivals, the division-winning Washington Nationals had the best record in the entire National League, and totaled 1,019 innings from their starters.

The 2014 Phillies rotation, believe it or not, did indeed top the magic 1,000 mark. The Phils rotation members were able to go 1,014 innings for the team this season. That’s with Cliff Lee injured and only able to make 13 starts, contributing just 81.1 innings himself to the effort.

The Phils very nearly had 3 starting pitchers reach the 200 inning mark. They were led by A.J. Burnett at 213.2 and Cole Hamels at 204.2, while Kyle Kendrick fell just short at 199 innings pitched. And no, those starts were not mostly bad ones, if that’s what you are thinking.

The starting efforts by the Phillies rotation resulted in 56% as “Quality Starts”, meaning they lasted at least 6 innings and allowed no more than 3 earned runs. The league average was 52% of their teams starts. The bottom line? The Phillies losing record in 2014 was not due to their starting rotation, as much as fans might like to put a chunk of the blame there.

The Phillies losing record in 2014 was mostly due to their inability to hit effectively. The team was tied for just 23rd in Runs scored in all of baseball this year. The only playoff team even close to them were the Cardinals, with whom they were tied. But the Cards were 14th in Batting Average, 9th in On-Base Percentage. The Phils were all the way down at 24th in Avg, 25th in OBP among the 30 teams.

The Phillies bullpen was, in general, not a problem. In fact, by the end, when rookie Ken Giles became a regular, they were a strength. Closer Jonathan Papelbon registered 39 Saves with a 2.04 ERA in 66 games. His support group: Ken Giles (44 games/1.18 ERA), Jake Diekman (73 games/3.80 ERA), Antonio Bastardo (67 games/3.94 ERA), Justin DeFratus (54 games/2.39 ERA), and even Mike Adams (22 games/2.89 ERA) were mostly effective.

The point of all this is to illustrate that, if the Phillies truly want to improve for 2015, they need to improve their offensive consistency. The rotation and the bullpen were able to remain competitive, but the offense frequently let the arms down. But there may be a big problem looming.

The Phillies and A.J. Burnett have each turned down mutual options for a 2015 contract. Burnett has until tomorrow to accept or decline a player option for just over $12 million. Kyle Kendrick is a free agent, and not likely to return. Even Lee, who many fans seem to assume will return healthy, is no guarantee. At age 36, Lee left a July game with an elbow issue. He has not had surgery. There is absolutely no guarantee that he can give the Phils anything next year, let alone a full, healthy season.

The problem there should become obvious. If the Phils don’t re-sign Kendrick, or sign someone just as productive, and if Burnett chooses to not return, they have lost more than 400 innings from their rotation. If Lee is not healthy enough to give more than the 81 innings he did in 2014, they may approach the need to replace almost 500 innings. Where will those come from?

The fact is that Innings Pitched by Major League Baseball-caliber starting pitchers do not grow on trees. As much as many Phillies fans might want to malign them, A.J. Burnett and Kyle Kendrick were just that in 2014. The 121 innings given by Roberto Hernandez will likely be replaced by Jerome Williams. But that’s just the 4th starter at best.

David Buchanan will be counted on to step up as a regular

Young David Buchanan is likely to be expected to increase the 117.2 innings that he pitched over 20 starts in his rookie season this year. If he makes close to 30 starts in 2015, he will be expected to at least reach across the 150 IP mark. But that’s just a 30-40 inning bump next year, not nearly enough to make up for the losses.

The Phillies have a lot of questions to answer for 2015, and they are making some dangerous assumptions at this point. They assume a full, healthy season from Cole Hamels, and yet there has even been talk of trying to deal him for a large prospect package, if that is possible.

Without Burnett and Kendrick, something many Phils fans probably wish happens, the starting rotation could be a shambles in 2015. Phillies fans need to be careful what they wish for, they just might get it. If you thought things were bad in 2014 with them, they will likely be downright ugly in 2015 without them.

In no way am I arguing that A.J. Burnett and Kyle Kendrick are top quality starting pitchers at this point in their careers. But the simple fact is that both are healthy, experienced starting pitchers who go out and take their turn in the rotation, and usually are able to give the team valuable innings pitched that keep their team in the game more often than not.

There are no guarantees that Cliff Lee will be healthy in 2015

Maybe Hamels stays and is a Cy Young contender. He is certainly capable of that type effort, if he stays. Maybe Cliff Lee comes back healthy, pitches a full season, at least enough to be a valued trade chip come June or July. Maybe Burnett accepts his option. Maybe Buchanan and Williams are more than we think. Maybe the club signs a free agent that is able to give them 200 innings.

That’s an awful lot of maybes for a team that was already a last place one this past season, and that already has an aging, struggling offense. It’s a lot easier at this stage of the off-season to envision a 2015 that is not only worse in the win-loss record, but harder and uglier to watch. Phillies fans need to keep a close eye on the formation of the 2015 starting rotation. Replacing A.J. Burnett and Kyle Kendrick will not be as easy as you might think.