Saturday, August 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

What might have been in the rotations of the NL East

Phillies pitcher Cole Hames. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Phillies pitcher Cole Hames. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

The National League East has been stricken with pitching woes before the 2014 season has gotten underway. Which is too bad, because the division was on pace to showcase some stellar staffs.

PHILLIES

Cole Hamels: 4.6

Cliff Lee: 7.3

A.J. Burnett: 1.7

Roberto Hernandez: -0.6

Kyle Kendrick: 1.0

Total 2013 WAR: 14.0

Hamels-Lee-Burnett was going to be one of the best potential top threes, weighed down by the fact that they were throwing with a fourth place team behind them. Hamels' tendinitis, which has gone from being a minor setback to an ambiguous, ongoing ordeal with no date set for his return, reapplies a lot of the pressure the team was alleviating by acquiring Burnett in the first place.

METS

Matt Harvey: 5.2

Bartolo Colon: 5.0

Dillon Gee: 2.2

Zack Wheeler: 1.1

Jon Niese: 0.7

Total 2013 WAR: 14.2

If Harvey wasn't recovering from Tommy John, this would be intimidating. And in a few years, if Harvey, Wheeler and Noah Syndegaard are all progressing as expected, the Mets will be primed to be more than just annoying.

Colon, like A.J. Burnett, is being relied upon to repeat his somewhat surprising success elsewhere last year. With their young ace sidelined until some mystery date in 2014, Colon takes on the No. 1 role, and at 40, there are some risks involved. 

Niese may wind up being the Mets' Opening Day starter, pitching today for the first time since being sent back to New York to see if the rotator cuff injury that ended his season last year was returning (it wound up being "weakened scapular muscles"). He has yet to be officially deemed "ready" so he remains a possible scratch as well. Certainly, Niese is a far smaller chunk than Harvey, but his would be another spot the Mets would be scrambling to fill with less than a month until opening day.

Their status as outside of contention wouldn't necessitate a blockbuster signing, and their rotation's WAR would see someone at or below Niese's level with some other X factor that was keeping them out of a Major League rotation until injury created need.

NATIONALS

Stephen Strasburg: 3.1

Gio Gonzalez: 3.0

Jordan Zimmermann: 3.7

Doug Fister: 4.1

Ross Detwiler: 0.1

Total 2013 WAR: 14.0

Oh, right. This rotation. Fister was the surprise trade of the offseason, and how the Tigers felt like it was even on both ends remains questionable. The Nationals have four 3.0+ starters in their rotation, and even Ross Detwiler can be reliable - last April, he made five starts, averaging over six innings each and keeping his ERA at 2.03.

Even missing Fister and his inflamed right elbow for any period of time, this rotation is still tops in the division. The Phillies have elite veterans, the Mets have budding youngsters, the Fish have Jose Fernandez, and the Braves have some promising young pieces as well, but the Nationals have three proven, young, healthy horses ready to go (for now).

Their enormity talent-wise made the Fister acquisition so surprising; he put them over the top. Even without him, they remain there.

BRAVES

Kris Medlen: 3.3

Julio Teheran: 3.2

Mike Minor: 3.1

Brandon Beachy: -0.2

Alex Wood/David Hale/Gavin Floyd: 1.1/0.7/0.0

Total 2013 WAR: 9.4-10.5

Subtracting Kris Medlen takes one of the three most solid contributors out of this rotation, and replacing him with Freddy Garcia (0.9) takes 2.4 wins away from the Braves.

After that, if it's a long-term issue, you really start missing Tim Hudson's steady hand. The Braves rotation would be their weak point - and probably will be even when Medlen returns. Their offense can generate enough crooked numbers to outrun a less than perfect performance. However, its streaky nature can also take things in the other direction.

When Upton and Uggla home runs turn into swinging third strikes, more pressure falls on the pitching staff, who could find themselves surprisingly thin, unless Atlanta is really into Ervin Santana.

MARLINS

Jose Fernandez: 6.3

Nathan Eovaldi: 2.2

Henderson Alvarez: 1.9

Jacob Turner: 1.4

Tom Koehler: 0.8

Total 2013 WAR: 12.6

Yeah, apparently the five guys projected to make up the Marlins' rotation this year had a higher collective WAR than the five guys the Phillies wanted to make up theirs. Most of that is Jose Fernandez, who can pitch well in his sleep, but still. Dang.

Justin Klugh Philly.com
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