Restoring the rosters: No. 4 – Philadelphia

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
No. 12 – Minnesota
No. 11 – Arizona
No. 10 – Los Angeles (AL)
No. 9 – Toronto
No. 8 – Boston
No. 7 – Colorado
No. 6 – Montreal/Washington
No. 5 – New York (AL)
Here’s the only team in the top seven of these rankings to have won a World Series in the past eight years. On the strength of an outstanding infield still mostly intact, the Phillies come in at No. 4.
Rotation
Cole Hamels
Randy Wolf
Gavin Floyd
J.A. Happ
Josh Outman
Bullpen
Brett Myers
Ryan Madson
Taylor Buchholz
Brad Ziegler
Carlos Silva
Geoff Geary
Antonio Bastardo
Maybe it’s more solid than spectacular, but it’s a fine staff. Figuring that Myers would make the bullpen stronger in the closer’s role, I chose to go with Outman as the fifth starter based on how impressive he was for the A’s before requiring Tommy John surgery this year. He had a 3.48 ERA in 12 starts and two relief appearances before going down.
It is worth noting that there’s not much depth here to cover for injuries. Carlos Carrasco was next in line for a rotation spot, but once past him, the options dwindle to names like Kyle Kendrick, Andrew Carpenter and Adam Eaton.
Lineup
CF Michael Bourn
2B Chase Utley
SS Jimmy Rollins
1B Ryan Howard
3B Scott Rolen
LF Pat Burrell
RF Marlon Byrd
C Carlos Ruiz
Bench
INF Jason Donald
INF Nick Punto
C Lou Marson
OF Jason Michaels
OF Greg Golson
Again, depth is an issue here. The only two experienced reserves are Punto and Michaels, and neither is very valuable. If an injury struck the outfield, top prospect Michael Taylor would be the best option to move into the starting lineup.
The lineup is plenty strong, though, and the up-the-middle defense is outstanding. I especially like the fact that Rollins and Rolen will be starting on the left side of the infield behind four left-handed starting pitchers.
Summary
The Phillies minor league system has long had a reputation for being shallow and yet producing stars, and that’s exactly what we see here. The squad has a fine rotation and lineup, but little behind it. Still, the club has come up with a greater quantity of prospects in recent years, which explains just how it managed to satisfy the Indians’ needs and acquire Cliff Lee while retaining Happ, Kyle Drabek, Taylor and Dominic Brown. I’m confident that the Phillies will place right around here again when these rankings are revisited a couple of years down the road.

Kershaw-Sale anything but a pitcher’s duel

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World Series Game 1 was billed as a battle of aces, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale of the Red Sox. Between them, they have 14 All-Star Game nominations. Kershaw has won three Cy Young Awards. Sale could his first Cy Young Award this year. Among his 10 seasons with at least 110 innings pitched, Kershaw has never posted a sub-2.92 ERA. Sale has been at 2.90 or below in each of the last two seasons. The two have combined for over 4,000 career strikeouts and both have averaged better than a strikeout per inning over their careers.

And yet Tuesday’s Game 1 was anything but a pitcher’s duel between Kershaw and Sale. Though a couple of fielding mistakes weren’t of any help to Kershaw in the first inning, Red Sox batters were squaring him up good. Of the five balls put in play in the first inning, three had exit velocities of 100 MPH or higher. Of the 12 total balls put in play against him overall, five reached triple digits in exit velo.

Kershaw gave up a pair of runs in the first, another run in the third on a J.D. Martinez double to straightaway center field, and another two in the fifth. Kershaw led off the fifth by walking Mookie Betts, then giving up a single to Andrew Benintendi, ending his night. Ryan Madson relieved Kershaw and proceeded to allow both inherited runners to score. All told, Kershaw yielded five runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts on 79 pitches in four-plus innings.

Sale, meanwhile, was on the hook for individual runs in the second, third, and fifth. Dodger hitters weren’t squaring him up quite as well as the Red Sox batters squared up Kershaw, but Sale was still more hittable than usual. Of the eight balls put in play against him, four were at least 90 MPH in exit velo. One of the runs was a no-doubt solo home run to Matt Kemp in the second. The Dodgers chased Sale in the fifth when he issued a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier. Matt Barnes relieved him allowed the inherited runner to score. Overall, Sale threw 91 pitches in four-plus innings, serving up three runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.

The game is now, as has been generally the case throughout this postseason, a battle of the bullpens.