Two turns into rotation, 2016 Phillies starters outperforming 2011 counterparts

By: Matt Rappa, managing editor

PHILADELPHIA — Ten games into the season, we are catching a glimpse of what could be the next successful era of Philadelphia Phillies baseball.

One that doesn't include six-time All-Star second baseman Chase Utley, 2008 World Series MVP left-hander Cole Hamels, nor 2007 National League MVP shortstop Jimmy Rollins, but instead an influx of youth that includes third baseman Maikel Franco and right-handed starters Aaron Nola and Vincent Velasquez.

Just first baseman Ryan Howard and catcher Carlos Ruiz remain, but it is expected that this year will be their last in red pinstripes with both contracts coming to an end after this season.

Already, the 2016 Phillies starting rotation has shown signs of improvement from years past, but surprisingly, even from the 2011 season when the franchise won a record 102 games in the regular season, only to go on to lose to the St. Louis Cardinals in the opening round of the postseason.

Although a small sample size, this year's rotation through 10 games has started the season off much better than their 2011 counterparts at the same point in their respective season. The 2016 rotation has combined for a 2.14 ERA and a 0.810 WHIP ratio in 63 innings, whereas the 2011, ace-filled rotation put up a 5.13 ERA and 1.360 ratio.


The Phillies' 2011 rotation — featuring Hamels, Cy Young Award winners Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, three-time All-Star Roy Oswalt and right-hander Joe Blanton — was regarded as one of the best assembled in Major League Baseball history, through the workings of general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

Now, under the new front office regime of general manager Matt Klentak and team president Andy MacPhail, the focus is more on developing their young roster for the future, than the thought from years past of having to succeed right away.

Velasquez fits that thinking perfectly.

Acquired this offseason in the six-player trade with the Houston Astros, Velasquez has put up historic numbers through two career starts as a Phillie. In 15 combined innings, he has surrendered just three hits and three walks, while striking out a Major League-best 25 batters.

While Velasquez did not set the franchise record for most strikeouts in a shutout, 17, he did break Hall of Fame right-hander Jim Bunning's franchise record set in 1964 for most strikeouts over the first two starts with the team, 20.

Moving forward, Velasquez, Nola, right-hander Jerad Eickhoff and others will lock-down the roles once assumed by the 2011 staff that contributed to a 257 consecutive-game sellout streak at Citizens Bank Park that lasted from July 7, 2009, to August 6, 2012.

The "retooling" process has just begun.

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