Setting the 2014 Phillies and IronPigs Rotations

He should be good, right? Photo by Richard Wilkins Jr.

So we're at the end of 2013, mercifully for Phillies fans. We had to put up with a second straight dud of a team, and now a nearly universally panned off-season. In a little over a month, some players will start showing up in Clearwater, and baseball will be at hand. So the question is, who's going to be there.

Let's start with the rotation, which just a few years ago was dominating. Now? Well, here's the MLB rotation right now:

  1. Cliff Lee
  2. Cole Hamels
  3. Miguel Gonzalez
  4. Kyle Kendrick
  5. Roberto Hernandez
Now that doesn't quite scare you like the 2011 rotation, does it? With that said, if they stay healthy, it's reasonable to believe they could be above average, particularly if Gonzalez is good. If not, who's left behind them? Well, actually a few guys, believe it or not. Jon Pettibone is at the top of the list after a decent run in 2013. Ethan Martin should be a full-time reliever, but he'd be an option I guess. Adam Morgan is a guy I'm looking for big things from in 2014. Are any of them MLB ready? I'm not sure. Are they at least talented? Yeah.

Which takes me to the IronPigs rotation, and what I'm guessing it will look like this year. The IronPigs recently picked up two solid veteran AAA arms that could help. Greg Smith was outstanding for the Pigs in their stretch run, pitching to a 2.68 ERA after being picked up in June. Chris Bootcheck went 10-7 with a 3.69 ERA last season in Scranton. Right now I see Pettibone, Morgan, Smith, and Bootcheck making up 80% of the Pigs rotation in 2014. That leaves one basic debate, one that I would approach with caution- where should Jesse Biddle start. My vote is for Reading, back in AA, because his control issues alarm me. A guy with his caliber of arm should not fear throwing strikes. That just has to stop. My guess right now is that David Buchanan, who threw well in Allentown, is the front-runner for the #5 job, as is. Don't rule out Cesar Jimenez either, or if any of the Cochran-Miner types out there get invited to camp, they could make it.

None of this is overly exciting to Phillies fans, as they know that if Smith is taking starts in 2014, they probably aren't going to the playoffs. Come to think of it, the odds aren't that great anyway…