Tag Archives: Cole Hamels

With Zack Wheeler on board, updating the latest Phillies rumors

The Baseball Winter Meetings open on Sunday, December 8 in San Diego and the ‘Hot Stove’ season in Major League Baseball is already fully underway with hot new rumors coming out every day.

The Philadelphia Phillies were expected to be one of the most active teams in free agency and perhaps in the trade market as well during this off-season period.

With his job squarely on the line, general manager Matt Klentak is under the spotlight, tasked with filling a number of holes in order to elevate his now .500 team to a genuine 2020 contender.

The Phillies landed one of the top starting pitchers on the free agent market in right-hander Zack Wheeler. Reports this afternoon are that he will receive a five-year contract with a total value at over $110 million.

There were also reports that Wheeler had received a higher offer from the Chicago White Sox than the $118 million total dollars which he will receive from the Phillies.

However, Wheeler’s wife is a Jersey girl, and that appears to have been a decisive factor once the offers were relatively close. The Phillies also beat out the Chisox for Bryce Harper last off-season.

The Phillies have been linked to a number of top free agent names to this point. They cannot possibly land every big name that the fan base is hoping to add. However, they surely will be successful in luring at least one or two talented veterans.

Let’s take a quick look at the very latest rumors involving the Phillies interest and involvement in the pursuit of the most interesting players available.

Starting Pitchers

Cole Hamels – He was “the people’s choice”, as Phillies fans wanted him back. Hamels also telegraphed that he wanted to return and was willing to settle for a one-year deal to return to the club with whom he starred for a decade.

It turns out that he got that deal – but from the division-rival Atlanta Braves. It was announced this afternoon that Hamels and the Braves had agreed to a one-year, $18 million deal.

Time to turn the page here, Phillies fans. We’ll get to cheer him again one day at his Wall of Fame ceremony. But before then, count on him getting booed strongly next season at Citizens Bank Park.

Gerrit Cole – The Yankees are making a big push to land Cole. However, many believe that the Newport Beach, California native genuinely wants to pitch on the west coast. The Phillies have the money to be in this discussion, but I just don’t see the interest on his part.

The Dodgers, Angels, and Padres are probably going to end up as the finalists for Cole, with the Yankees trying to shove their way in with lots of money and that old Bronx Bomber prestige and history.

Stephen Strasburg – After meeting with Cole on Tuesday, the Yankees are spending their Wednesday meeting with Strasburg. If they feel that Cole is committed to the west coast, Strasburg could become New York’s main target, which could blow any other team out of the water…assuming the big righty is interested in pitching in the Bronx.

There have been no major rumors involving a Phillies link to either Cole or Strasburg, unless you count this afternoon’s generic “the Phillies are looking at Strasburg” tweet from Jon Heyman.

My guess is that the club has already been informed by their agent, Scott Boras, that the Phillies would be secondary options for the two biggest pitching prizes.

Madison Bumgarner – Back in May, MadBum put the Phillies on his no-trade list. However, that was strategic per Rosenthal. Bumgarner didn’t want to leave San Francisco, and listed as many teams as he could who appeared likely to go after him at that time.

Rosenthal did a nice sales pitch for Bumgarner earlier today on MLB Network. It has been about a week since any talk linking him with the Phillies. But Jon Morosi reported that reps of the player and team have been in touch, and Morosi also stated that the Phillies are “actively interested” in the veteran lefty.

Hyun-Jin Ryu – The Phillies could really use a left-hander, if not two, for the starting rotation. Scott Lauber lumped the Korean southpaw in with Wheeler and MadBum this afternoon as a possible Phillies target.

Dallas Keuchel – Well, since the Braves snatched Hamels, perhaps the Phillies could snatch up Keuchel, who pitched last season in Atlanta?

After he shut the Phillies down in a September start for the Braves, Keuchel called out Phillies management for not going after him when the pitcher was available and the club had a need per Jim Salisbury at NBC Sports Philadelphia:

I mean, if you don’t come calling what is there for me to be mad about? I think a lot of those guys over there in the front office are second-guessing themselves, and, I mean, I would too.

There have been no rumors linking the pitcher and the team. But if the Phillies aren’t seriously looking at him at this point, they have to be letting their egos get in the way.

Infielders

Didi Gregorius – The hottest name linked to the Phillies thus far this off-season, Gregorius is a favorite of new manager Joe Girardi from his years with the Yankees.

While I personally don’t think Gregorius is a major upgrade over incumbent shortstop Jean Segura defensively, he would bring more pop to the Phillies lineup.

Salisbury reported this morning that “the Phils are engaged in talks with free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius.” It would appear to be more than speculation or rumor at this point.

Cutting ties with Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco opens two spots on the Phillies infield. The club already has the potential to fill second base with Scott Kingery. Watching how they choose to align the 2020 infield will be one of the more interesting Phillies situations this off-season.

Josh Donaldson – The Phillies have a hole at third base with the Franco non-tender. Kingery is not a good option on an every day basis. Top prospect Alec Bohm is nearly ready, and could push his way to Philly no later than mid-summer of the 2020 season.

So, the question becomes would the Phillies shell out big bucks and tie up third base for multiple years. That is what it will likely take to land Donaldson, who played on a one-year contract in Atlanta last season and is not likely to settle for such a deal again.

There have been no real rumors linking the team and player other than a Monday tweet from Morosi that the Phillies were “maintaining contact” with reps for both Gregorius and Donaldson.

Anthony Rendon – While a big ex-Nationals reunion joining Bryce Harper with Strasburg and/or Rendon would be wonderful on the field, it likely wouldn’t work on the Phillies balance sheets.

Rendon is going to be the highest-priced position player free agent this off-season. The Dodgers have already met with he and Strasburg, and many feel that Rendon will end up with the Texas Rangers, with whom he has also already met.

Two weeks ago, Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philly called Rendon “the perfect fit” for the Phillies. However, there has been nothing to really link the team and player directly to this point.

In my opinion and that of most others, the Phillies need to add not one, but two more proven veteran starting pitchers to their rotation.

The Phillies have successfully landed Wheeler with a lengthy contract at a high salary. Should they now fall short on the other arms listed previously you can expect them to shop for a pitcher in the “third tier” of free agents.

Were that to happen, arms such as Rick Porcello, Tanner Roark, Alex Wood, and Julio Teheran to get a longer look from the club. But this is not what the Phillies want or need, not really.

Wheeler adds a much-needed talented arm. He gives them a nice 1-2 punch with Aaron Nola. What would go well now would be a battle-tested and still talented left-hander. Someone like Bumgarner.

 

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Philadelphia Phillies Team of the 2010’s

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Few Phillies flames ever burned-out more quickly than Brown’s, who nonetheless made the team of the 2010’s

 

The decade of the 2010’s began with the Philadelphia Phillies at or near the pinnacle of baseball. The club was a two-time defending National League champion, and in the midst of what would become five consecutive NL East crowns.

You could easily understand thoughts at that point, and even a year later, that the Phillies might become the 2010’s Team of the Decade in Major League Baseball.

The fall came hard and fast, and fairly unexpectedly. By mid-decade the club had plummeted to the very bottom of baseball.

The leaders of those league and division championship teams disappeared over time, some due to age, some to injury, some in trades to replenish a farm system that would never deliver the help needed to turn things around.

Over the course of the ten years ending with this past 2019 campaign the Phillies went a cumulative 787-833. They finished in last place in the NL East on three occasions and have not enjoyed a single winning season since the first two.

As the decade draws to an end, the Phillies have now stabilized as a .500 team thanks to a handful of prospects developing into contributors and a few impact trades and free agent signings.

But this piece isn’t about looking ahead, it is a look back. In particular, this is one man’s selection of the Phillies Team of the 2010’s.

I decided to put together this team in a bit of a unique fashion. Rather than try to pick the best overall players in the fullness of the decade as others have, I opted instead to look at the actual performance of individual Phillies regulars during each particular season.

This Phillies team is therefor made up of the best individual WAR seasons turned in by a player for the team at each position on the diamond. I’ve listed the player name, their top season, and some of their more important stats and notes, including that Baseball-Reference WAR mark.

PHILLIES TEAM OF THE 2010’s

First base – Ryan Howard, 2010: .276/.353/505, 31 HR, 108 RBIs, 87 runs, 2.7 WAR. NL All-Star. Finished 10th in NL MVP voting.

Second base – Chase Utley, 2010: .275/.387/.445, 16 HR, 65 RBIs, 75 runs, 13 steals, 5.8 WAR. NL All-Star.

Shortstop – Jimmy Rollins, 2014: .243/.323/.394, 17 HR, 55 RBIs, 78 runs, 28 steals, 3.9 WAR.

Third base – Placido Polanco, 2010: .298/.339/.386, 6 HR, 52 RBIs, 76 runs, 3.2 WAR.

Left field – Domonic Brown, 2013: .272/.324/.494, 27 HR, 83 RBIs, 65 runs, 2.8 WAR. NL All-Star.

Center field – Shane Victorino, 2011: .279/.355/.491, 17 HR, 61 RBIs, 82 runs, 19 steals, 5.5 WAR. Led MLB with 16 triples. NL All-Star. Finished 13th in NL MVP voting.

Right field – Jayson Werth, 2010: .296/.388/.532, 27 HR, 85 RBIs, 106 runs, 13 steals, 4.5 WAR. Led NL with 46 doubles. Finished 8th in NL MVP voting.

Catcher – Carlos Ruiz, 2012: .325/.394/.540, 16 HR, 68 RBIs, 56 runs, 4.6 WAR. NL All-Star. Finished 28th in NL MVP voting.

Starting pitcher – Aaron Nola, 2018: 2.37 ERA, 0.975 WHIP, 3.01 FIP, 17 wins, 33 starts, 149 hits over 212.1 IP with 224 strikeouts, 10.5 WAR. NL All-Star. Finished 3rd in NL Cy Young Award voting. Finished 13th in NL MVP voting.

Relief pitcher – Jonathan Papelbon, 2014: 2.04 ERA, 0.905 WHIP, 2.53 FIP, 2 wins, 39 saves, 45 hits over 66.1 IP with 63 strikeouts, 2.9 WAR.

The top two players on the 2019 club, catcher J.T. Realmuto and right fielder Bryce Harper, were edged out at their respective positions. 2012 “Chooch” slipped past JT by a 4.6-4.4 margin, and Werth’s 2010 campaign slid by Bryce’s Phillies debut in a 4.5-4.2 finish.

The top WAR figures of the early-decade great starting pitchers Roy Halladay (2011 – 8.8), Cliff Lee (2011 – 8.5), and Cole Hamels (2014 – 6.6) were beaten out by Nola’s fantastic 2018 season.

 

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Top 10 Philadelphia Phillies players of the decade

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Cole Hamels tossed a no-hitter during his final start with the Phillies at Wrigley Field in July 2015

 

Despite the fact that this decade technically ends with the year 2020 and not the current year of 2019, many sources are using the turn from the 10’s to the 20’s as an excuse to pop out some “end of the decade” pieces and lists.

Who am I to buck that trend?

With that in mind, over the next few weeks, I am going to take a glance back at the 2010’s in Phillies baseball.

It was a decade that began with such promise, with the Phillies as one of baseball’s best teams. But it all fell apart rapidly, with the club degenerating into one of baseball’s worst by the middle of the decade.

During these final weeks of 2019, I am going to examine how and why that happened. I am also going to present a few lists, including the best individual seasons and games from the last ten seasons.

The first look back today at the 2010’s is a list presenting the top Philadelphia Phillies players of the decade. Rather than make it a subjective list, I decided to consult the folks at Fangraphs.

Using their research tools, I came up with the top WAR figure accumulated by each position player and pitcher between the years 2010-19 while with the Phillies. Those players are presented here in order, from 10-1.

10. Odubel Herrera (10.8 WAR)

Herrera won a starting job with the Phillies out of spring training in 2015. He remained the starting center fielder with the team until his suspension at the end of this past May due to a scandalous domestic violence incident. Herrera slashed .276/.333/.423 and produced 60 home runs, 233 RBIs, 294 runs scored, and 56 stolen bases over 2,492 plate appearances. He was a 2016 National League All-Star.

9. Shane Victorino (10.8 WAR)

Tied with Herrera in WAR, “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” was ranked higher here since he accumulated that WAR total over nearly 800 fewer plate appearances. He was the Phillies starting center fielder as the decade began, a position he held until being dealt away at the July 2012 trade deadline. Victorino slashed .267/.336/.433 with 44 home runs, 170 RBIs, 225 runs scored, and 77 stolen bases over 1,665 plate appearances with the club prior to his trade. He won a 2010 NL Gold Glove and was a 2011 NL All-Star, receiving NL MVP votes that season.

8. Carlos Ruiz (10.9 WAR)

The Phillies primary catcher until being dealt way in August 2016 to the Dodgers, “Chooch” was a fan favorite for a decade. While with the Phillies during the 2010’s he slashed .275/.359/.400 with 46 homers, 263 RBIs, 262 runs scored, and 14 steals over 2,625 plate appearances. Ruiz received NL MVP votes each year from 2010-12 and was a 2012 National League All-Star.

7. Cesar Hernandez (11.6 WAR)

Hernandez has been the Phillies starting second baseman since August 2015, so the entirety of the second half of the decade. He made brief appearances in the two years prior as well. Hernandez has slashed .277/.352/.381 with 46 home runs, 253 RBIs, 407 runs scored, and 80 steals over 3,282 plate appearances during the decade. He scored more runs than any other Phillies player during the 2010’s.

6. Jimmy Rollins (16.0 WAR)

The Phillies all-time hits leader, “JRoll” opened the decade as the club’s starting shortstop, a role he had held since the 2001 season. Prior to his December 2014 trade, Rollins slashed .252/.323/.390 over 2,999 plate appearances with the Phillies during the 2010’s. He also had 70 home runs, 266 RBIs, 380 runs scored, and 127 stolen bases. His steals total was the most of any Phillies player during the decade. In 2012, Rollins won his fourth and final career NL Gold Glove.

5. Roy Halladay (16.8 WAR)

The late ace pitcher is the lone Phillies Wall of Famer on this countdown, though he will undoubtedly be joined in that honor by a number of the others over time. “Doc” won 55 games with the club from 2010 through his injury-forced retirement in 2013. Across 103 starts he registered a 3.25 ERA, 1.119 WHIP, and allowed 649 hits over 702.2 innings with 622 strikeouts. Halladay was the 2010 NL Cy Young Award winner, the runner-up in 2011, and in both seasons was a National League All-Star and received NL MVP votes.

4. Aaron Nola (17.2 WAR)

The new Phillies ace, Nola was the club’s first round pick at seventh overall in the 2014 MLB Draft. He debuted the following season, and became a 2018 NL All-Star during a season in which he finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting and received MVP votes as well. Nola has allowed 669 hits over 771.1 innings across 127 starts while striking out 826 opposition batters. He also has career 3.49 ERA and 1.172 WHIP marks to date.

3. Chase Utley (19.1 WAR)

The top position player on the countdown, “The Man” was the Phillies starting second baseman until an August 2015 trade. He slashed .265/.348/.425 with 72 home runs, 331 RBIs, 347 runs scored, and 59 stolen bases in his 2,804 plate appearances with the club during the decade. He was a National League All-Star in both 2010 and 2014.

2. Cliff Lee (19.6 WAR)

Lee did not open the decade with the Phillies, having been dealt way to Seattle on the same day in December 2009 that Halladay was acquired. However, he returned as a free agent for the record-setting 2011 campaign and remained with the club until forced into retirement by injuries in 2014. He won 41 games with a 2.89 ERA and 1.085 WHIP, allowing 697 hits over 747.2 innings across 106 starts with 739 strikeouts during the decade. Lee finished third in the 2011 NL Cy Young Award voting and sixth in 2013 and was an NL All-Star in both seasons, also receiving NL MVP votes in 2011.

1. Cole Hamels (25.6 WAR)

Far and away the leader among Phillies players in WAR during the decade, the homegrown Hamels was a primary cog in the starting rotation until being dealt away at the 2015 trade deadline. He won 66 games with a 3.07 ERA over 179 games, 178 of those starts. Hamels allowed 1,038 hits over 1,193.1 innings during the decade while with the club, striking out 1,158 opposing batters. He was a National League All-Star in both 2011 and 2012, and finished among the top eight in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2011, 2012, and 2014.

 

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Should Phillies pursue a top bat over a top starting pitcher?

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Keuchel is a legitimate option if the Phillies choose to, or are forced to, settle below the top-level free agent arms

 

With the ‘Hot Stove’ season now open across Major League Baseball, teams have begun the process of trying to upgrade their roster for the 2020 campaign.

The Philadelphia Phillies are coming off what was a disappointing .500 season in 2019. After a ton of high-profile activity last off-season and a fast start, the club sputtered over the final four months to finish at 81-81.

Most evaluators and fans feel that the biggest shortcoming for the team this past season was the pitching staff. The Phillies failed to get quality outings from their starting pitchers and suffered numerous injuries that depleted their bullpen.

The bullpen could bounce back simply with a return to health by a few of the arms and with a modest free agent signing or prescient trade addition.

But the rotation will be more difficult. There are a pair of ace-caliber pitchers available in Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, and a strong second-tier arm in Zack Wheeler. The Phillies have plenty of money and the incentive to sign any of them.

However, would they actually be smarter to ink a couple of lesser-tier arms, pitchers who do not have a qualifying offer attached, instead spending their big money on another impact bat to fill one of their lineup holes? It’s a legitimate strategy to consider.

If so, which arms could actually improve the rotation and might make the most sense for the club to pursue? And then, what bats might the club be able to add that would significantly upgrade the lineup?

MID-LEVEL ARMS

The Phillies gave 72 combined starts in the 2019 season to a group of pitchers that included Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Jerad Eickhoff, Drew Smyly, Jason Vargas, and Cole Irvin.

The lowest ERA among that group was the 4.45 mark of Smyly, a southpaw who was added as a free agent in mid-July who is now an unrestricted free agent. Each of the others was either near or over the 5.00 mark.

There are a handful of solid starting pitching options available in free agency who do not have qualifying offers attached. They are unrestricted free agents who will not cost anywhere near the price of a Cole or Strasburg contract.

Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu is an injury risk and will turn 33 years of age at the end of spring training. But he could be had for something like a three-year, $54-million deal. For this year’s NL Cy Young Award runner-up who has top of the rotation talent, it could prove a major bargain. Would the Phillies roll the dice?

The Phillies passed on Dallas Keuchel this past season and then watched him become a difference-maker in the rival Braves rotation as Atlanta pulled away in the standings. The lefty turns 32 on New Year’s Day and might be looking for a five-year deal. But if the former NL Cy Young Award winner who also has four Gold Gloves on his résumé would settle for three years at $15 million per?

There is also, of course, Cole Hamels. The former Phillies ace and World Series hero will turn 37-years-old two days after Christmas. The lefty has publicly stated that he would go on a one-year deal. How about the Phillies take him up on that offer at $15 million with incentives and a club option for 2021?

Adding a pair of left-handers from among the Ryu, Keuchel, Hamels group, depending on the price in dollars and years, would likely end up much more affordable and hang much less of a risk albatross around the Phillies necks as would a Cole or Strasburg deal alone.

TOP POTENTIAL IMPACT BATS

It’s very difficult to evaluate where the Phillies 2020 holes will be, simply because the club hasn’t made up its own mind regarding a number of holdover players.

Decisions on Scott Kingery, Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez, and Adam Haseley in particular will determine not only the answers to a number of questions – but also will actually determine those questions themselves.

So, I will proceed in the way that I see best for the Phillies future. That means Kingery plays second base every day, both Hernandez and Franco are gone, and Haseley becomes a bench player or starts in center field every day at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

What that means is the Phillies have holes to fill in center field and at third base. The center field hole cannot be filled in free agency, at least not by anyone who would be a marked improvement on Haseley.

If the Phillies wish to add a championship caliber center fielder it will have to be done via trade. In past articles, I have advocated for the club going after Boston Red Sox defensive whiz Jackie Bradley Jr.

Whether it would be Bradley or some other target, filling this position with a more proven veteran is something that general manager Matt Klentak needs to make a priority. Klentak needs to find his Garry Maddox for Willie Montanez trade. Phillies fans should well recall that important May 1975 trade with the San Francisco Giants.

However, filling the third base hole can indeed be done through the free agency route. In fact, there are three different players available, all at different commitment levels of years and dollars

Anthony Rendon is the top available hitter. Turning 30-years-old next June, he would likely come at a price tag of $30-35 million over as many as seven years. Rendon would bring elite, Gold Glove-caliber defense and a clutch middle-of-the-order bat to the lineup, but at a premium price that would tie up the position for years.

Josh Donaldson is a former AL MVP who turns 34 in two weeks. He is a proven middle order hitter who remains a top glove man at the hot corner. Donaldson played on a one-year deal this past season in Atlanta. It will likely cost a three-year, $75 million commitment this time around.

A third option at third base would be 31-year-old Mike Moustakas. He is nowhere near the caliber of defender at the hot corner as the first two, and is not as reliable a hitter or run producer either. However, at a notch below both Rendon and Donaldson he would also come cheaper. He might even go for a one-year deal at $10-12 million, allowing the Phillies to remain committed to Alec Bohm over the longer term.

 

Even if he can successfully fill the holes in center field and at third base, as well as add two more veteran starting pitchers, Klentak still has more work to do this off-season. He needs to add a couple of better veteran bench options, as well as perhaps adding another strong reliever. Get all that accomplished and the Philadelphia Phillies are legitimate 2020 postseason contenders.

 

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NL’s Cy Young Award has gone to a Phillies hurler seven times

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Denny won the 1983 NL Cy Young Award for his performance with the Phillies that season

 

Major League Baseball continues the announcement of its 2019 awards on Wednesday evening. The top pitchers in both the National and American Leagues will be honored as the Cy Young Award winners are publicly revealed in a 6:00 pm EST broadcast on the MLB Network.

Those will be the more formally recognized awards as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. However, a few hours earlier, the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America) will announce the winners of voting from their membership.

The 2019 American League Cy Young Award finalists are teammates Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander of the AL champion Houston Astros and former Phillies pitcher Charlie Morton of the Tampa Bay Rays. Verlander previously won the award back in 2011 and is a three-time runner-up for the honors.

In the National League, the finalists are last year’s winner Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets, Korean southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and three-time winner Max Scherzer of the world champion Washington Nationals. Both Ryu and Cole are free agents this off-season.

My choices are Cole and deGrom. Those are the two men who received my IBWAA vote.

MLB first began recognizing the best pitcher in baseball with this formal award with the 1956 season. For the first 11 years, just one winner for all of Major League Baseball was honored.

Due to an overwhelming outpouring of fan requests, a winner was honored from both the National and American Leagues beginning with the 1957 season.

In 1969, the American League vote ended in a tie between Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers and Mike Cuellar of the Baltimore Orioles, and for the only time in the history of the award it was shared. Voting rules were changed as a result, with just one winner honored thereafter.

While the Cy is generally considered to be an honor for the top starting pitcher in the game, that is not a requirement. Mike Marshall of the Los Angeles Dodgers became the first reliever to take the honors in 1974, and eight other relievers have since won the award across the two leagues. The most recent was Eric Gagne of the Dodgers back in 2003.

Roger Clemens holds a record for having won the award seven times. A pair of former Phillies pitchers, Roy Halladay and Pedro Martinez, are among a group of a half-dozen hurlers to be honored with the Cy in both leagues at some point during their careers.

The late Baseball Hall of Famer and Phillies Wall of Famer Halladay is one of just four pitchers to take home a National League Cy Young Award while a member of the Fightin’ Phils pitching staff.

Halladay was the unanimous winner of the award after a historic 2010 season in which he threw a Perfect Game as well as just the second postseason no-hitter in MLB history. He registered an incredible 8.6 WAR value that year, winning 21 games and tossing 250.2 innings with nine complete games.

In 1983, right-hander John Denny captured the honors with the Phillies “Wheeze Kids” team that would go on to win the National League pennant. Denny received 20 of 24 first-place votes to finish as an easy winner.

That Cy followed a 19-win season during which he tossed 242.2 innings over 36 starts. Denny was also the NL’s Comeback Player of the Year in that first full season after coming to the Phillies from the Cleveland Indians in a September 1982 trade.

Four years later, the only Phillies relief pitcher to ever win the Cy took the honors in one of the closest votes ever. Steve Bedrosian saved 40 games for the team that year, exactly half of their total 1987 wins total. He worked 89 innings over 65 games, allowing 79 hits with 74 strikeouts and a 2.83 ERA.

“Bedrock” received just nine of 24 first-place votes, but came out the winner with 57 total voting points. That total edged out the 55 received by Rick Sutcliffe (four first-place) of the Chicago Cubs and 54 for Rick Reuschel (eight first-place), who split the season between the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants.

Halladay, Denny, Bedrosian. Those are three of the seven times that a Phillies pitcher has taken the NL honors. As I said earlier, four pitchers have won the award while with the club. Which means that the fourth hurler would put four Cy Young Awards into his trophy case.

That hurler was, of course, lefty Steve Carlton. The greatest pitcher in Phillies franchise history, Carlton won the Cy for his performances on the mound in the 1972, 1977, 1980, and 1982 campaigns.

That first win in 1972 was one of the most impressive pitching performances in Major League Baseball history. In his first season after arriving from the Saint Louis Cardinals in a spring training trade for Rick Wise, Carlton was the unanimous winner of what has been ranked as the ninth-greatest Cy Young season in history.

The man who became alternately known as “Lefty” or “Super Steve” won 27 games with a putrid Phillies team that would win just 59 games. He made 41 starts with 30 complete games, numbers that are unheard of in today’s game. Carlton allowed just 257 hits over 346.1 innings with 310 strikeouts, registering a 1.97 ERA and 0.993 WHIP.

In 1977, Carlton won 23 games while tossing 283 innings over 36 starts. He registered 17 complete games and struck out 198 with a 2.64 ERA and 1.124 WHIP. That performance allowed him to receive 17 of 26 first-place votes and finish comfortably ahead of runner-up Tommy John of the Dodgers.

For his performance during the Phillies first-ever World Series-winning campaign in 1980, Carlton became just the third pitcher to ever win three Cy’s, joining Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver with that distinction.

That year, the lefty won 24 games, with 38 of his starts resulting in 13 complete games. He struck out 286 batters while allowing just 243 hits across 304 innings pitched. Carlton registered a 2.34 ERA and 1.095 WHIP, and received 23 of the 24 first-place votes as the runaway winner.

Two years later, Carlton became the first pitcher to ever win four career Cy Young Awards, and did so again in runaway fashion, receiving 20 of 24 first-place votes.

That season, Carlton won 23 games while making 38 starts, half of those resulting in complete games. He struck out 286 over 295.2 innings with a 1.147 WHIP for a Phillies team that would battle his old Saint Louis club for the NL East crown down to the last two weeks of the season before falling three games short.

Carlton and Halladay went on to become both Baseball Hall of Famers and Phillies Wall of Famers. Carlton’s 84.1 career WAR mark is the fifth-best in baseball history among left-handed pitchers, while Halladay’s 65.4 mark leaves him among the top 50 hurlers in the history of the game.

Denny had a nice career, winning 123 games over 13 big-league seasons, 37 of those with the Phillies over parts of four years. Bedrosian registered 184 career saves and 76 wins in a 14-year career.

At this time last season, Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola was a finalist for the award after winning 17 games and allowing just 149 hits over 212.1 innings across 33 starts with 224 strikeouts.

Will Nola some day become the fifth Phillies pitcher to capture an NL Cy Young Award? Perhaps Zach Eflin will elevate his game to that level. Or maybe the club will be able to lure Cole or Ryu this winter in free agency and find one of them taking the honors in some future season.

One thing is certain, as the 2011 Phillies who won a franchise record 102 regular season games while featuring a “Four Aces” rotation of Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt showed, starting pitching is the name of the game in Major League Baseball.

The Phillies need to upgrade their starting pitching rotation by landing a pair of new, proven arms in the free agent market this winter. If they do, the club should finally once again become a serious challenger for a postseason berth in 2020. And perhaps they’ll also get a Cy Young winner in the bargain.

 

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