Phillies: Top 5 starting pitchers since 1980
Honoring the great Phillies pitchers of the last four decades
The Philadelphia Phillies history is absurdly rich with elite-level talent at the starting pitcher position. In fact, it’s so rich that when initially sitting down to write this piece, I realized there was just no possible way a “Top 5” list could include every iconic Phillies ace.
Guys like Pete Alexander, Robin Roberts, and Jim Bunning are some of the all-time greats to ever dawn a Phillies jersey. With the organization having almost too many names to highlight, it made sense to pinpoint this list down to the 1980s and beyond.
5. Cliff Lee
If it wasn’t for Cliff Lee only spending five seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, he would no doubt be higher on this list. One of the greatest lefties of the modern era, Lee embodied what it meant to be a Phillie.
Acquired by the team in the summer of 2009, Lee would go on to drag the Phillies back to the World Series. Going 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA in his first five games with his new team, it was clear that the Phillies had gotten someone special.
Getting minimal help from his pitching co-star in Cole Hamels, Lee would start five games in the postseason that year. He finished 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in the month of October, and while the Phillies were unsuccessful in defending their title that year, Lee’s performance would go down as one of the best in franchise history.
After a brief hiatus from the city of brotherly love in 2010, Lee would return to the Phillies for the 2011 season. He helped form what fans dubbed as the “four aces”, making up without question the greatest rotation in team history.
Lee would finish his five year career with the Phillies in 2014, posting an ERA of 2.94 over this time while winning 48 total games. He was selected to All-Star games in both 2011 and 2013, and even received some Cy Young votes each year as well. Lee also led the MLB in shutouts in 2011, as well as strikeout rate in both 2013 and 2013.
While Lee ultimately never accomplished his goal of bringing a title back to Philly, his dominance as a starter for the Phils towards the end of his career plants him firmly among the all-time great Phillie pitchers.