Follow him on Twitter @WarRoomPHLRyan by clicking here
Watch the latest episode of the War Room on UStream by clicking here
Purchase some War Room apparel and accessories by clicking here
|The boys are back.|
Photo Courtesy: cadillacnews.com
The Phillies aren't expected to do much this season, mainly due to a core that's up there in age. Carlos Ruiz, the recipient of a three-year contract in November, is 35, as are Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Cliff Lee. Ryan Howard is 34. Marlon Byrd is 36. AJ Burnett, perhaps the best free agent signing made by Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies front office, is 37. If that's not enough, Bobby Abreu will turn 40 on March 11th. It's gotten so bad that some fans have dubbed the 2014 Phillies the "AARPhillies." Let's forget about the ages of several players on the roster for a bit and instead focus on other issues the Phillies have at this point in time. In this article, I'll be going over the four main candidates for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, making a case for each of them and ultimately deciding who will be in the starting rotation when Opening Day arrives. Enjoy!
The Candidates: Roberto Hernandez, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Jonathan Pettibone, Ethan Martin
Candidate One: Roberto Hernandez
Career Statistics: 59-82, 4.67 ERA, eight complete games, three shutouts, 9.4 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 3.3 BB/9, 5.6 SO/9
The Case: The man formerly known as Fausto Carmona agreed to a one year deal with the Phils worth $4.5 million. Ever since turning in a 19-8 record to go along with a 3.06 ERA in 2007, Hernandez has bottomed out. Take a look at his statistics from 2008-2013 below.
|Photo Courtesy: CBS Sports|
Is Roberto Hernandez going to perform like he did in 2007 and 2010? No, but he won't be expected to assuming he's the fifth starter in the rotation. Realistically, Hernandez could post 10-12 wins to go along with a sub-4.00 ERA. However, if Hernandez starts to struggle, there's three other prospects that would be happy to take his place.
Candidate Two: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
Career Statistics: There's no official stat line, but click here for an in-depth analysis of Gonzalez's track record in Cuba.
|Photo Courtesy: mlb.com|
Back in October, Amaro told reporters that scouts view Gonzalez as a potential number two or three starter as his career progresses. At this point, however, the Phillies are going to take it slow with him. Amaro also said that he hoped Gonzalez would join the rotation. He has as good of a chance as anyone else, so seeing him in red pinstripes from Day One isn't completely out of the question. Then again, neither is sending him down to the Iron Pigs for a few weeks to see what he can do against some of the top prospects in baseball. Only time will tell.
Candidate Three: Jonathan Pettibone
Career Statistics: MAJORS: 5-4, 4.04 ERA, 18 GS, 100.1 IP, 9.8 H/9, 0.8 HR/9, 3.4 BB/9, 5.9 SO/9
MINORS: See below
The Case: Pettibone actually started his career fairly well. From April 22nd (his debut) to June 4th, he was in possession of a 3-1 record, and had not allowed more than four earned runs in a start. His only loss came at the hands of the eventual World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox. Better yet, the Phillies were 6-2 in the games he started. After June 4th, however, things started going a bit downhill.
|Photo Courtesy: philly.com|
If Hernandez wasn't signed, Pettibone would have probably had an easy shot at the fifth spot. He'll still have a chance to compete, but the track to that coveted fifth spot is a little tougher now.
Candidate Four: Ethan Martin
Career Statistics: MAJORS: 2-5, 6.08 ERA, eight GS, 40.0 IP, 9.5 H/9, 2.0 HR/9, 5.9 BB/9, 10.6 SO/9
MINORS: See below
The Case: Our last candidate had to endure some growing pains when he transitioned to the majors late last season. If you remember, Martin tended to blow through the order his first time through. After that, however, it was a crap-shoot, with Martin typically on the wrong end.
|Photo Courtesy: CBS Philly|
Martin has the smallest odds (in my opinion) of earning the fifth spot in the rotation. It wouldn't surprise me to see him break camp as a relief pitcher, however.
THE VERDICT: I believe that Roberto Hernandez will end up winning the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will either start the season in AAA or as a member of the Phillies bullpen. Jonathan Pettibone will begin the season in AAA, but if an injury occurs or Hernandez/Gonzalez struggle, he'd be the first option on the call-up list. Ethan Martin will start the season in AAA as well to hone his control if nothing else. His days as a starter are probably numbered, so if he's called up to the Phillies, expect to see him in the bullpen, with an occasional spot start if things become that drastic.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to tell me what you think will happen!