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Philadelphia Phillies: Halladay, Lee, Hamels and the Best Starting Pitchers Ever

Posted By Adrian Fedkiw On Jul 6 2011 @ 2:09 pm In Philadelphia,Philadelphia Phillies | 4 Comments

In this golden era of Phillies baseball, starting pitching has taken precedence. If Philadelphia management can somehow find a way to extend Cole Hamels after 2012, the team will have Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Hamels together for at least another couple of years. 

Of course, as of right now, Halladay and Lee will not be ranked as high individually in Phillies lore simply because they haven’t pitched enough.

Nonetheless, as the years pile up, it will be interesting to see not only the jumps they make in the all-time ranks from year to year, but where they wind up when their careers are over.

Where Does Cliff Lee Rank?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 16: Starting pitcher Cliff Lee #33 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch during the game against the Florida Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on June 16, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 3-0. (Photo by Drew

As of right now, I don’t think you can put Cliff Lee’s accomplishments with the Phillies high on the list as of yet. He hasn’t even pitched a full season.

I have him at the 20 spot as of now.

Lee’s 34-inning scoreless streak certainly vaulted him up the ranks quite a bit.

Starting pitchers that I would put ahead of Lee so far include Earl Moore, Eppa Rixey, John Denny, Tully Sparks, Rick Wise, Charlie Buffington, George McQuillan and Brett Myers.

You’d expect Lee to pass these nine as he continues his career in Philadelphia.

10. Roy Halladay

SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 21:  Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants in Game Five of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at AT&T Park on October 21, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (

Years- 2010-Current

Phillies Career- 387 IP 32-13 2.44 ERA 1.04 WHIP 350 K

Best Year- 2010- 250 IP 21-10 2.44 ERA 1.04 WHIP 219 K Cy Young Winner

Roy Halladay’s selection in the top ten may baffle some, but what he’s done in just a season and a half has been extraordinary, and in my opinion, he’s already deserving of cracking the top ten. Some may also think that ten is too low.

He’s one of three starting pitchers in Phillies history to capture the Cy Young. Steve Carlton won four, while John Denny took the crown in 1983.

Halladay’s one of seven pitchers to throw a perfect game and a no-hitter…and he did this in the same season. The others to accomplish the feat, Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Mark Buehrle, Jim Bunning, Joss Aldie and Cy Young.

When his career in Philadelphia is over, he should be up there with the top three which I’ll get to in a bit.

9. Charlie Ferguson

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Years- 1884-1887

Phillies Career- 1,514 IP 99-64 2.67 ERA 1.12 WHIP 728 K

Best Year- 1886- 395 IP 30-9 1.98 ERA .98 WHIP 212 K

Charlie Ferguson could’ve been one of the all-time greats, but typhoid fever took his life at just 25. It’s unfortunate that the medical treatment wasn’t what it is today

In 1885, Ferguson became the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter in franchise history against the Providence Greys.

What could’ve been for the then 25-year old phenom?

8. Cole Hamels

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JULY 05:  Pitcher Cole Hamels #35 smiles against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium on July 5, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Years- 2006-Current

Phillies Career- 1,069 IP 70-49 3.49 ERA 1.15 WHIP 1,012 K

Best Year- 2008- 227 IP 14-10 3.09 ERA 1.08 WHIP 196 K

2008 may be Cole Hamels’ finest season, but he’s gotten off to the best start of his career this year.

He was tremendous in 2007, but the 2008 postseason was his coming out party nationally. He went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts.

Hamels got roughed up in 2009 as the hitters started to adjust to his fastball and changeup. In 2010, Hamels added a cutter and started using his curveball more. He found success in the second-half which has transitioned into this year.

7. Curt Simmons

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Years- 1947-1960

Phillies Career- 1,939 IP 115-110 3.66 ERA 1.33 WHIP 1,052 K

Best Year- 1952- 201 IP 14-8 2.82 ERA 1.19 WHIP 141 K 

In the 1947 All-American Boys East and West game at the Polo Grounds, Curt Simmons caught the eye of Ty Cobb.

Simmons pitched and played outfield in the game. He hit the game-winning triple in the ninth inning to win the game for the East 5-4. Ty Cobb told Simmons, “Anybody who can hit as well as you do shouldn’t fool with pitching.”

Simmons ignored Cobb’s advice and became one of the best pitchers in team history.

He and Robin Roberts headed the 1950 “Whiz Kids” staff.

6. Jim Bunning

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Years- 1964-1967, 1970-1971

Phillies Career- 1520 IP 89-73 2.93 ERA 1.11 WHIP 1,197 K

Best Year- 1964- 284 IP 19-8 2.63 ERA 1.03 WHIP 219 K

After the 1963 season, Art Mahaffey who won 19 games in 1962 regressed, and Gene Mauch wanted to add an ace to head the pitching staff. They did so by trading for Jim Bunning who spent his first nine years in Detroit. At the time, the Tigers wanted to unload salary.

During the 1964 SpringTraining, Gene Mauch strategically didn’t start Bunning against any NL team except once.

Bunning, along with his deadly slider, started the year 10-2.

5. Chris Short

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Years- 1959-1972

Phillies Career- 2,253 IP 132-127 3.38 ERA 1.28 WHIP 1,585 K

Best Year- 1965- 297 IP 18-11 2.82 ERA 1.17 WHIP 237 K

During the 1964 season, Chris Short started the season in the bullpen.

Art Mahaffey and Ray Culp struggled in the rotation, and on May 10 Gene Mauch made a change, Short replaced Culp,

Before 1964, the 26-year old Short showed flashes, but ultimately was very inconsistent. He had one of the best fastballs in the league.

Things started to come around by 1962, and in 1964, Short was one of the reasons why the Phillies stayed in first place for most of the season.

In a tidbit, Short was nicknamed “Style” because he was known as always being the worst dressed player on the team.

4. Curt Schilling

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 11:  Curt Schilling #38 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during Game five of the 1993 National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on October 11, 1993 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Philli

Years- 1992-2000

Phillies Career- 1,659 IP 101-78 3.35 ERA 1.12 WHIP 1,554 K

Best Year- 1997- 254 IP 17-11 2.97 ERA 1.05 WHIP 319 K

Before Curt Schilling arrived to Philadelphia in 1992, he’d already been on four teams in seven years. He had the reputation of being a goofball and not taking the game seriously.

That all changed when then Phillies pitching coach Johnny Podres got a hold of him.

His performance in the 1993 postseason was a pre-cursor of what was to come. He’s considered one of the best postseason performers in MLB history.

Schilling won the 1993 NLCS MVP despite not recording a decision in the series. The Phillies were outscored 33-23 by Atlanta, but Philadelphia won in both of Schilling’s starts.

In Game One, Schilling went eight innings, allowed seven hits, two earned runs and struck out 10. The Phillies entered the ninth with a 3-2 lead, but Mitch Williams was unable to close. Kim Batiste’s double in the tenth won it 4-3.

In Game Five, Schilling went eight innings, allowed four hits, an earned run and struck out nine. The Phillies again entered the ninth with a 3-2 lead, and once again Mitch Williams blew the save. Lenny Dykstra hit the game-winning home run in the tenth to win it for the Phillies 4-3.

3. Robin Roberts

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Years- 1948-1961

Phillies Career- 3,739 IP 234-199 3.46 ERA 1.17 WHIP 1,871 K

Best Year- 1952- 330 IP 28-7 2.59 ERA 1.02 148 K

Robin Roberts was durable, had pin-point location and used various deliveries. He led the NL in innigs pitched for four straight seasons from 1952-1955.

Of all of the pitchers in the Hall-of-Fame, none recorded as many losses as Roberts did in a single season (22). He did this in 1957.

Roberts leads all Phillies pitchers all-time in WAR (67.8). 

2. Grover Cleveland Alexander

Grover-cleveland-alexander_display_image_display_image

Years- 1911-1917, 1930

Phillies Career- 2,513 IP 190-91 2.18 ERA 1.08 WHIP 1,409 K 

Best Season- 1915- 376 IP 31-10 1.22 ERA .84 WHIP 241 K

Grover Cleveland Alexander led the NL in wins five times in seven years spent with the Phillies. He set a rookie record with 28 wins. He won 30-plus games for three consecutive seasons from 1915-1917.

During his 33-win campaign in 1916, he tied George Bradley for most shutouts in a season with 16.

Alexander had a sidearm pitching motion which he adopted as a child by skipping stones across the river near his home. He also worked quicker than any pitcher in baseball at the time. Rarely did his games last more than an hour and a half.

1. Steve Carlton

SAN DIEGO - 1986:  Steve Carlton #32 of the Philadelphia Phillies winds up the pitch during the 1986 season MLB game against the San Diego Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Years- 1972-1986

Phillies Career- 3,697 IP 241-161 3.09 ERA 1.21 WHIP 3,031 K

Best Season- 1972- 346 IP 27-10 1.97 ERA 310 K CY Young Winner

In 1970, then with the Cardinals, Carlton had a difficult time with the release of his coveted slider. He consistently got underneath it and his arm was extremely sore at the end of the year. He scraped the pitch from his arsenal.

During Spring Training in 1972, then Phillies pitching coach Ray Ripplemeyer convinced Lefty to add the slider back into his repertoire.

After a pain free Spring Training, Carlton stuck with the pitch not only for the 1972 season, but the rest of his career.

When he had the pitch going, it looked like a fastball when released, but it broke severely when it crossed the plate.

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