Everyone seems excited about the young pitching the Phillies just acquired and rightfully so. It appears the Phillies Front Office is already penciling them into the Reading rotation. But as they say “the grass is not always greener on the other side”.
On the Phillies side, they had seven minor league starters on the four full season teams who had earned run averages 3.00 or under over their final five starts or basically the final month of the 2014 minor league season. None of the four starters acquired by the Phillies in the offseason trades could make that claim.
I started to think just how good was the Phillies minor league starters after reading a tweet from a Phillies beat writer Chris Branch who said that with the pick-up of Max Scherzer the Nationals now have five starters with a combined ERA last season of 2.99.
Of course the seven Phillies minor league starters can not be compared to the Nats 2015 starters but they did finish the 2014 season strong.
The bottom line is that the Phillies have minor league starting pitching who finished last season much better than the four pitchers they acquired from the Padres, Dodgers and Pirates organizations.
Below compares the last five starts of the 2014 minor league season for the seven Phillies and the four new guys:
AA, Reading: Hoby Milner, (4-1, 3.00 ERA); Severino Gonzalez, (3-1, 2.53 ERA); Adam Loewen, (2-1, 2.23 ERA) and Aaron Nola, (2-0, 2.63 ERA).
High A, Clearwater: Miguel Nunez, (1-0, 2.67 ERA).
Low A, Lakewood: Ranfi Casimiro, (3-0, 2.70 ERA) and Jon Prosinski, (1-1, 2.27).
Below are the results of the four pitchers who the Phillies acquired with great fanfare and what they did in their last five starts of the 2014 season:
AA, Joely Rodriguez, (2-0, 6.70 ERA, three starts to end season with Altoona after pitching in relief for six weeks). Then, Arizona Fall League, (3-0, 2.38 ERA, 7 starts), Dominican Winter League, (1-1, 4.29 ERA, 4 0f 5 were starts).
High A, Tom Windle, (2-2, 3.45 ERA).
High A, Zach Eflin, ( 2-2, 4.50 ERA).
High A, Ben Lively (2-1, 4.50 ERA).
So you can see the Phillies had seven starters on their four full season teams who all had ERAs 3.00 and under in their last five starts of the minor league season. They combined for a 16-4 record during this time to finish the 2014 season strong.
On the other hand, the four pitchers the Phillies picked-up in the Rollins, Byrd and Bastardo trades did not finish as strong going 7-5 and all of them had an an ERA of well over 3.00. Three of the four did pitch in the hitter friendly California League though. Only Joely Rodriguez ,who pitched in the Eastern League to end the minor league season, had an under 3.00 ERA and that was later in the Arizona Fall League.
These four pitchers will be closely watched in the minor league camp to see if they can meet the high expectations which are expected of them. However, the Phillies minor league organization already has seven starting pitchers who had stronger finishes to the 2014 season than any of them had!