MLB Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: Is Rotation Still Best in National League East?

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Is Philadelphia Rotation Still the Best?

Derick Hingle-USA Today Sports

In 2010, with the Phillies surging to another incredible season, they felt that three ace quality pitchers would not be enough. Enter Roy Oswalt, who became the team’s fourth ace, pitched well, and spanned a whole bunch of creative nicknames for the team’s staff.

The 2013 season is a little bit different for the Phillies; Roy Halladay is coming off an injury and his last spring start raised concern. Kyle Kendrick pitched well enough to earn the Phillies’ fourth starter job, and John Lannan is a new entry as the team’s fifth starter.

While the team’s starting pitching depth is still impressive, there is plenty of good starting pitching to go around in the N.L. East. The Washington Nationals will get a full season out of Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez is coming off of a career year. They have also added Dan Haren, who is a pretty darn good name to have as a fourth starter (or fifth starter, depending on who you are talking to).

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves are boasting another year of Tim Hudson, who has seemed to age very well. Kris Medlen surprised many last year, and Julio Teheran has had an unbelievable spring training and will be in the team’s rotation.

The Miami Marlins and New York Mets have some talent in their rotations, from Jon Niese to Matt Harvey to Ricky Nolasco, but there is simply not enough depth in either team’s rotation for them to be considered as a top-tier rotation in the N.L. East.

Simply put, the Phillies still have a very strong rotation, but it appears clear that the Nationals have surpassed them.

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5. Miami Marlins

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Projected Rotation: Ricky Nolasco-Henderson Alvarez-Wade LeBlanc-Nathan Eovaldi-Jacob Turner

Nolasco won 12 games last year, posting a 4.48 ERA in his 191 innings. Eovaldi has some promise, being acquired in the Hanley Ramirez trade last year. That said, this is a rotation that has just lost Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, and they will struggle to be average in 2013.

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4. New York Mets

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Projected Rotation: Jon Niese-Shaun Marcum-Matt Harvey-Dillon Gee-Jeremy Hefner

Niese is the undisputed ace of the rotation, coming off a year in which he went 13-9 with a 3.40 ERA. He has improved his K/BB ratio each year in the league.

Harvey is the crown jewel, at 23 years of age. He struck out 70 in 59.2 innings last year after joining the team mid-season as injuries ravaged the rotation. Harvey has a heavy fastball but will have to work on his control.

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3. Atlanta Braves

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Projected Rotation: Tim Hudson-Kris Medlen-Mike Minor-Paul Maholm-Julio Teheran

Hudson will enter his 15th season in the Majors, coming off a 16-7 season, but has shown signs of wear and tear. His ERA+ of 110 was the lowest since 2006, and his strikeout rate was lower than his career average.

Teheran has only had a small taste of the Majors, but the Braves feel it's finally time to unleash the 22-year-old righty on the rest of the league. He has 18 strikeouts in 14 spring innings.

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2. Philadelphia Phillies

Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports

Projected Rotation: Cole Hamels-Roy Halladay-Cliff Lee-Kyle Kendrick-John Lannan

Plenty hinges on Halladay, who struggled last season in his 25 starts. His 4.49 ERA was the highest since his disastrous 2000 season when he was sent down to Single-A to tighten up his mechanics.

The torch for Opening Day has been passed to Hamels, who signed a long-term extension with the team last summer. Lee will need more run support if he expects to win more than the six games he won in 2012.

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1. Washington Nationals

Derick Hingle-USA Today Sports

Projected Rotation: Stephen Strasburg-Gio Gonzalez-Jordan Zimmermann-Dan Haren-Ross Detwiler

We all know by now what happened in 2012 with Strasburg, who returns in 2013 healthy and ready for a full slate.

Gonzalez won 21 games last year, the best year of his career. Haren has battled injury troubles over the last few years, but the Nats are banking on him to be a solid fourth starter.