SI’s Phillies Rotation Cover Puts Fear Of God Into NL East
March 29 / Glenn Davis / SportsGrid
There was no more stunning storyline over baseball's offseason than Cliff Lee's decision to join the Philadelphia Phillies as a free agent. The Phillies weren't even considered a contender for Lee's services, he'd just played for the Phillies in 2009, and his addition made the team's starting rotation absolutely phenomenal. With the regular season beginning later this week, the Phillies remain one of MLB's most intriguing stories...so Sports Illustratedstuck them on their preview cover.
A couple thoughts crossed our mind after we looked at this cover: 1) "My, that looks familiar;" 2) "That was generous of them, to put Joe Blanton on the cover." We kid, we kid...sort of. Yes, Blanton is a art of the Phillies' rotation, and as far as fifth starters go, he's pretty strong. But next to Oswalt, Hamels, Lee, Halladay...well, Blanton's career ERA+ is 99. That's almost perfectly average (average = 100).
But again, a strikingly average MLB starter as your back end of the rotation guy - a guy you're not even counting on to make any postseason starts - is pretty good. And it's especially good when all of the other four guys in the rotation have legitimate ace talent. (Halladay, though, is probably the best of the bunch...and so we wonder if he didn't feel just a tad bit slighted that SI put Lee front and center. National League hitters better hope Halladay's not mad.)
Yes, the Phillies lost Jayson Werth. Yes, Chase Utley's injured enough that he "hopes to return by the All-Star break." Yes, Ryan Howard's under contract for a long time, for a lot of money. But those four starters...wow. Those guys will go a long way toward compensating for any offensive deficiencies, and thanks to them, the Phillies will often look unbeatable, and always be interesting to follow...unless the SI cover jinx is real, that is.
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