Northeast Times

Just how good are those Phamous arms?

It has been no secret that for much of the sea­son to date, the Phil­lies have rid­den the arms of their tal­en­ted pitch­ing staff to the best re­cord in base­ball. 

Their ace-laden start­ing ro­ta­tion, bolstered by a bull­pen with the po­ten­tial all-star right arm of Ry­an Mad­son as well as a pair of young, ex­cit­ing arms in Mi­chael Stutes and Ant­o­nio Bas­tardo, has done a sol­id job of com­pens­at­ing for a frus­trat­ing, un­der-pro­du­cing of­fense.

The most ex­cit­ing part about this pitch­ing staff, though, is that there is still room for im­prove­ment. 

If the past week­end’s games were any in­dic­a­tion, those arms very well could be get­ting even more over­power­ing for op­pos­ing lineups. 

For the most part this sea­son, Roy Hal­laday and Cole Hamels have been just un­hit­table. If you had to as­sign an or­der to this ro­ta­tion, then Hal­laday would be your “1” and Hamels would be your “2”, even though Hamels has done just as much to war­rant a No. 1 rank­ing.

Hal­laday, the reign­ing Cy Young Award win­ner, has sur­rendered only 29 runs in his 14 starts to date. That’s good enough for a 2.39 earned-run av­er­age. 

Hamels, who some pre­dicted be­fore the sea­son would be this year’s Cy Young win­ner, has giv­en up just 26 runs over his 13 starts to date. That’s good enough for a 2.58 ERA. 

That ranks them with the second- and fourth-best ERAs, re­spect­ively, among Na­tion­al League starters. 

The oth­er pair in the so-called “Fant­ast­ic Four,” or whatever they were be­ing called be­fore the sea­son star­ted, might just be round­ing in­to shape to war­rant all that “best ro­ta­tion ever as­sembled” chat­ter once more. 

Be­cause of some health and per­son­al is­sues, Roy Os­walt had a couple of up and down weeks to start the sea­son. But since his re­turn in mid-May, he has looked sharp. 

Over his last six starts, he has thrown five or more in­nings each time, giv­ing up three or more runs just twice. 

Last Sunday’s game against the Chica­go Cubs might have been his most im­press­ive. Os­walt  gave up three runs in the first in­ning but then shut out the Cubs for six more in­nings en route to the win. 

If this trend con­tin­ues, Os­walt, prob­ably the team’s “4”, could re­turn to that in­cred­ible level of pitch­ing that he dis­played when he ar­rived late last sea­son. 

Then comes the team’s num­ber “3” starter: Cliff Lee. 

Os­walt’s start on Sunday came on the heels of Lee’s eight in­nings of one-run base­ball the night be­fore against the Cubs. 

For Lee, that was his second con­sec­ut­ive sol­id out­ing fol­low­ing a pair of shaky games to close the month of May. 

Five days earli­er, he shut out the Los Angeles Dodgers for sev­en in­nings be­fore giv­ing way to the bull­pen. 

Lee, who has been knocked around a few times this year, led all ma­jor league pitch­ers in strikeouts through last Sunday. 

Not sur­pris­ingly, Lee passed Hal­laday for that strikeout lead on Sat­urday, 107-106. Oh, and Hamels is eighth with 91 strikeouts on the year. 

That’s a whole lot of swinging-and-miss­ing go­ing on at Cit­izens Bank Park this year.

Not bad for your sup­posedly third-best starter, right?

With less than a month un­til the all-star break, the un­of­fi­cial halfway point of the sea­son, there is no bet­ter time for this ro­ta­tion to start fir­ing on all cyl­in­ders. 

Like­wise for the of­fense. Even though the hit­ters are still try­ing to find their con­sist­ency, Chase Ut­ley and Ry­an Howard have been do­ing the job at the plate. ••

Colum­nist Matt God­frey can be reached  at mgod­frey@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at mgodfrey@bsmphilly.com.

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