Ranking the NL East: Starting Pitchers

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Sep 23, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher

Cole Hamels

(35) throws against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

5. Philadelphia Phillies

The Nationals may have the best rotation in baseball right now, but just a few years ago, that distinction belonged to the Phillies. It seems like yesterday that the Phillies boasted an unstoppable rotation of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. But things have changed, and the Phillies have gone from the best rotation in baseball to the worst in the NL East.

After A.J. Burnett declined his option with the Phillies earlier this offseason, the team’s current rotation consists of Hamels, Lee, Aaron Harang, David Buchanan and Jerome Williams.

Of course, it should be noted that Hamels is one of the best pitchers in the game. The right-hander missed time on the disabled list in 2014, but he still managed to go 8-8 with a 2.46 ERA in 30 games. In his career, Hamels is 108-83 with a 3.27 ERA.

Hamels is a Cy Young-caliber starter and, barring a last-minute trade this offseason, he’ll be on the mound for the Phillies on Opening Day. Once you get past Hamels, however, the rotation is full of question marks.

Lee, a former Cy Young award winner, struggled mightily in an injury-plagued 2014 season. The left-hander went 4-5 with 3.85 ERA in just 13 starts last season. If Lee is able to stay healthy in 2015, he and Hamels should provide a solid 1-2 punch for the Phillies. But given his recent health issues and the fact that he’s 36 years old, his best days are likely behind him.

After Lee, the rotation isn’t very impressive. Harang pitched relatively well with the Braves last season, going 12-12 with a 3.57 ERA, but he’s been inconsistent throughout his career. Buchanan had a decent 2014 season but he’s only started 20 games in his big league career. Williams went 6-7 with a 4.77 ERA last season and hasn’t posted an ERA under four since 2011.

Overall, the Phillies aren’t likely to win the division next season and their iffy rotation probably isn’t a huge concern for a team that is (supposedly) in rebuilding-mode. That said, their rotation is nothing like what it used to be and it ranks at the bottom of the NL East.

Next: Number Four?