Neither Jesse Biddle nor his legion of followers in Philadelphia should take this as a slight. He isn't ready. Ruben Amaro Jr. has been steadfast that the Phillies top pitching prospect will not be on the major league roster on Opening Day. I'll take it one step further and say that he is an extreme longshot to appear on the big league roster this season, at least not before September. He just isn't ready, and anybody who has watched him with a semi-critical eye over the last year understands it. This isn't about his age or his arbitration clock or the Phillies' being overly patient. Biddle is the same age as Cole Hamels was when he made his big league debut. He has accumulated twice as many minor league innings as Hamels had. The difference is that Hamels was ready, because Hamels displayed consistent control of his fastball, which is the thing that is likely going to decide Mystery Starter No. 5, and which is the thing that Biddle has most struggled with since last year. At some point, the Phillies think it is going to click for Biddle. He has the stuff to be a middle of the rotation starter. Some day. Just not right now.
Speaking of fastball command, the Phillies will need to see much better from Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez before they consider him a legitimate candidate for the rotation. He is scheduled to pitch today against the Orioles. So is David Buchanan, who has opened some eyes early in camp, again, with his ability to pound the zone with his fastball (although he showed an impressive cutter/slider against the Yankees in his last outing). Two other names in camp: Jeff Manship and Sean O'Sullivan. A dark horse contender could be Mario Hollands, who had another impressive outing yesterday. He projects more as a reliever, but he has spent most of his minor league career as a starter, and depserate times call for desperate measures.
The Phillies could easily end up going outside the organization, if not for a member of their Opening Day roster, then for depth. They'd love to get Seth Rosin back in their hands. The Dodgers took him in the Rule 5 draft, and reports out of Arizona are that he has had an impressive camp. Rosin, acquired from the Giants in the Hunter Pence trade, has logged five scoreless innings in the Cactus League, with eight strikeouts and no walks. The Dodgers have tons of pitching, with eight starters under contract. It's hard to see them finding a way to hold onto Rosin, but they could trade him to a team that does have an ability to give him a shot in their rotation.
In Minnesota, Vance Worley is out of options, as are Samuel Deduno and Scott Diamond. Deduno had a decent 2013. Worley has struggled since he was traded to the Twins as part of a package for Ben Revere. But Worley and Deduno offer more upside than Diamond. I'd be mildly surprised if either is cut loose.
A trade for an experienced starter is unlikely, for the same reason the Phillies did not outbid the Red Sox or the Rangers for Chris Capuano or Joe Saunders. It's safe to assume that the A.J. Burnett signing pretty much tapped them out. In an ideal world, they'd be able to trade John Mayberry to a team in need of a right-handed bat, but it doesn't seem very logical that such an opportunity would suddenly present itself after not doing so for the last year or so.
Getting Rosin back from the Dodgers might be the most realistic option for more depth. And, keep in mind, the Phillies didn't think enough of him to put him on the 40-man roster and protect him the Rule 5 draft.