TBOH Debate – 2/19/2014 – Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies’ Big Three


Feb 12, 2014; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) works out as they report at Bright House Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Every week, the writers of That Ball’s Outta Here debate the key issues facing the Phillies.  Joining me this week are Spencer Bingol, Alex Cheremeteff, and Michael Lecke.

How worried are you about Cole Hamels injury?


After the immediate firestorm on social media, I think the consensus has become that Cole Hamels’ injury seems to be only a minor issue. It’s always possible management is lying, but as of now there’s no reason to think he’ll be out for more than two/three starts, and we should at least have a feel for how he is physically by the end of Spring Training.

He’s still young enough that you shouldn’t immediately fear any “my body permanently rejects this arm motion” injuries, but the risk you take with pitchers is that issues can appear seemingly randomly, as well. Until further notice, I’m not going to be too concerned about it.


I am not worried about Cole Hamels’ injury at all. There is no structural damage such as a torn rotator cuff or ligament damage. It’s just tendinitis. It’s more of a nuisance injury than anything else.

Judging by where he is in his throwing program at this point, I would be surprised if he missed more than the first two weeks of the regular season. Also, with all of the off days built into the schedule in early April, the Phillies really will not need a fifth starter until approximately April 14.

It’s better to be cautious with Hamels than rush him back too soon and risk further injury. They’ll need him in August and September…


While I don’t want to dismiss any concerns outright, especially when talking about a player as valuable as Hamels needs to be, he does seem to deal with some sort of soreness every offseason.

He hasn’t been shut down, he’s just a week or so behind schedule. Until I hear that he’s been shut down like Jonathan Pettibone, I’m not going to worry too much.


Pat Gillick says Hamels concerns him but it’s only a two on a scale of one to ten; I’m giving it a five.

Without Cole the Phillies chances are slim. He’s an ace and the cornerstone of the franchise. He needs to start at least 25 games for the Phillies to really have a shot, even with Burnett and Lee.

March 28, 2013; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Mike Adams (37), starting pitcher Cliff Lee (33), starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick (38) and starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) prior to the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Bright House Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Assuming Hamels is back and pitching well in April, where do you think the Phillies top three starters rank in the National League?


Let’s look at some of the marquee rotations in the National League – St. Louis has the ability to be great, but there just isn’t the track
record with enough of the guys for my taste, outside of Adam Wainwright (and Hamels has been worth 8 WAR more in the same amount of time), so I’d say the Phillies win there.

The Nationals are even more talented, but when only discussing their top three, I have slight concerns about Gio Gonzalez’s consistency, and Stephen Strasburg still hasn’t put together a full season as a true number one (naturally, this will be the year). I’d consider it a wash.

I might give the Dodgers the slight edge, given the monster years by all three of their top starters in 2013. Also, I’m just now realizing that Cincinnati has a devastatingly complete rotation. Of their six most-used starters in 2013, they only lost one, Bronson Arroyo. His 3.73 ERA was the highest of all starters and top 5 relievers. That’s INSANE. They’d rank ahead of us. So, I’d say the Phillies are 3rd best in the NL. I’ll take that.


When Cole Hamels returns to the rotation, a top three of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and A.J. Burnett will be among the very best in the National League. I would rank them third, behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals, and just ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants.

Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke of the Dodgers, are as good as any top three in the majors. Add Hyun-Jin Ryu into the mix and they are head-and-shoulders above the rest of the league. A strong second is the top three of the Washington Nationals. If Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and Gio Gonzalez have breakout seasons, the National League East will be a runaway. You heard it here first.

The addition of A.J. Burnett puts the Phillies near the top. Lee looks like he can pitch until he’s 50. If Hamels and Burnett are healthy and productive, the Phillies will battle for a wild card.


I’d rather have the top three pitchers from both the Dodgers and Nationals. I feel that both teams are just a little bit better at two of the three spots. Aside from that, there’s really no other team that has as good a top of the rotation.

As far as the rest of the rotation goes, it’s a bit scary to compare Kyle Kendrick to Doug Fister, but that’s preferable than counting on him to match up against Gio Gonzalez. I guess the key for the season is figuring out how to make it rain every three days.


A healthy Hamels, Lee and Burnett are second to none as a Big Three in the NL.

The Nationals have a strong rotation as well as the Cardinals, Dodgers, Reds and Braves. But I’d take Cliff, Cole and A.J. over anyone else’s top three guys.

Ruben Amaro, Jr. deserves a ton of credit for managing to land Burnett. It transformed the tone of the offseason and adds significantly to the Phillies chances at making a run. Still, a lot rides on getting 30 starts each from these guys.

What do you think? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section below.

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Alex Cheremeteff (@AlexCheremeteff)

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Michael Lecke (@Bee5pace)