Philadelphia Phillies: A closer look at the rotation competition

As things look now, Cole Hamels will likely miss the first month of the season, meaning that after the first two weeks of the season the Philadelphia Phillies will need a fifth starter for the rotation.

Johnathan Pettibone would likely be the first choice, but he has been sidelined this spring with a shoulder injury.  There is some optimism that Pettibone could return as he said he felt well after throwing a bullpen session February 28th, but nothing else has been heard since.  Ethan Martin has been sidelined with a sore shoulder as well, leaving the Phillies with few options.

Hamels injury depleted an already thin rotation.

Hamels injury depleted an already thin rotation.

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who was expected to compete for a starting spot, looks too far away and could possibly spend the season in Triple A.  This means that the Phillies will likely have to turn to their spring roster invitees for the last spot in the rotation.  The three candidates are Sean O’Sullivan, David Buchanan, and Jeff Manship.  Unlike O’Sullivan and Manship, Buchanan has never pitched in the MLB.  While Manship and O’Sullivan have the experience of pitching in the majors, Buchanan has the most upside and the benefit of being from within the Phillies organization.

Buchanan has spent his entire career in the Phillies organization, mainly pitching at the Single A level.  However in the last two seasons, he has pitched at both the Double A and Triple A levels of the minors.  Buchanan struggled at the Double A level, going 3-5 with a 3.86 ERA in 2012 and 6-11 with a 4.82 ERA in 2013.  However, he was a late season call up to Triple A last year, and Buchanan then went 4-2 with a 3.00 ERA for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.  He has not pitched much so far in spring training, starting one game where he pitched three innings and gave up one run on two hits.


Manship struggled with the Twins in the past.

O’Sullivan has appeared in two games this spring training, earning a win and pitching five innings without giving up a run.  While he has pitched well this spring, O’Sullivan’s track record should be kept in mind.  In five major league seasons, the 26-year-old right hander has a 10-16 record, 5.89 ERA, and 103 strikeouts.  Last season with the San Diego Padres, O’Sullivan appeared in seven games and finished with a 0-2 record and a 3.96 ERA.

The last candidate is Manship, who impressed manager Ryne Sandberg in his recent start against the Minnesota Twins, in a 1-1 tie.  Manship pitched seven innings and only surrendered one run on four hits.  After the game Sandberg praised Manship when he said, “The guy is lights out for the spring.  It could mean something.”  There is no better endorsement a player can get than one from the manager, and this no doubt makes it appear that Manship is the favorite to win the final spot in the rotation.  However, as with O’Sullivan, the Phillies have to remember MLB track record.  In five years in the majors, Manship has a 3-7 record with a 6.42 ERA and 74 strikeouts.  Although the change of scenery to Philadelphia could prove beneficial to Manship, who spent the first four years of his career with the Twins.  Ultimately it is Manship’s job to lose at the moment.

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