Who Will Be the Fifth Starter? – Phillies Nation
2014 Spring Training

Who Will Be the Fifth Starter?

Cole Hamels took the mound Wednesday morning to throw a bullpen session to gauge how his shoulder is feeling. Because of Hamels’ injury, there is a vacated spot in the Phillies’ rotation. Here are the leading candidates to take that spot and how they are doing two weeks into Spring Training.

The Front-Runner

Jeff Manship

In three outings, Manship has posted a 1.29 ERA over seven innings pitched with six strikeouts. Manship is a five-year Major League vet who relies on an 89 MPH fastball with an 80 MPH curve and an 84 MPH change-up to get hitters out. The lack of separation between his fastball and change-up scares me a bit, as does his career 6.42 ERA. But make no mistake about it, Manship has played his way into the conversation and the role as the front-runner.

Stock is Rising

David Buchanan

Buchanan, 24, was a relative unknown quantity by most Phillies’ fans headed into this season. Drawing frequent comparisons to Kyle Kendrick, Buchanan will strike out about 5.6 batters per 9 IP but issue a couple free passes as well. After throwing three scoreless innings yesterday against the Braves, Buchanan’s stock is rising. Buchanan has a 1.50 ERA in 6 IP across three outings.

Stock is Falling

Sean O’Sullivan

Since making his debut at age 21 with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2009, O’Sullivan has battled frequent bouts of injury and inconsistency in the Major Leagues. Yesterday’s performance (6 ER in 2.2 IP) may be a red-flag that the inconsistency is on its way. O’Sullivan’s spring ERA now sits at 7.04 ERA.

Dark Horse

Mario Hollands

Hollands, 25, is making the most of an opportunity in Phillies’ camp as a non-roster invite. Old for his level from 2010 through 2012, Hollands counting stats weren’t very good, earning himself a return trip to Clearwater in 2013 after reaching Triple-A Lehigh Valley at age 23 in 2012. Hollands has impressed in camp, though, pitching 6.1 innings with a 1.42 ERA striking out five.



  1. Hogey's Role

    March 12, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Out of this list, I go with Buchanan, I feel like O’Sullivan and Hollands are best suited for the bullpen, and I’m not sold on manship, we don’t strike lightning in a bottle very often, especially under amaro, not to make a jab or anything…

    I’d like to see what Buchanan could do in the majors, maybe he’ll impress

    • Choley Manual's School of Speech Graduates

      March 12, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      Pat Gallen; Summa Cum Laude
      Hogey’s Role: Magna Cum Laude

      • schmenkman

        March 12, 2014 at 10:34 pm

        Chik-fil-A School of Spelling for Cows graduate?

      • Hogey's Role

        March 12, 2014 at 10:56 pm

        Appreciated, however far fetched it is

  2. bacardipr

    March 12, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    All of these options are scary. I had slightly favored O’Sullivan until just recently. Buchanan might become this year version of Pettibone. Although most bloggers will say he just org filler type of material.

    • Brooks

      March 13, 2014 at 6:12 am

      I’m with you – the options are slim and scary – The Phils are not going to score many runs this year and need good starting pitching to make it even interesting.

  3. George

    March 12, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Too soon to even guess who’s going to be fifth. These guys are all still being evaluated and the biggest spring challenges are yet to come. O’Sullivan had a bad outing; the others might have worse ones before we can collectively blink. Remember, these guys were all originally fighting to be the seventh starter after Lee, Hamels, Kendrick, Hernandez, Gonzales, and Pettibone).

    It’s not a good situation, but it’s not management’s fault. I give them credit for signing Burnett before there were even as many injuries. It’s at least good, too, that they signed so many arms in the first place. They may not be aces, but what team has an ace as a #7, 8, or 9?

    I still look for Hamels to return in May. A Manship or a Buchanan will then be sent down. He’ll have gotten maybe two whole starts. That’s not exactly doom for the season, especially if a Manship or O’Sullivan, or Pitcher X manages to keep them in one of the games for 5-6 innings.

    • Bill

      March 12, 2014 at 11:43 pm

      what about Biddle?

      • schmenkman

        March 13, 2014 at 12:01 am

        He’s already been assigned to the minor league camp, and rightly so. I’d like to see him at least have a successful half season rather than rush him to the majors to start the year.

      • Chuck A.

        March 13, 2014 at 7:13 am

        I would wholeheartedly agree on Biddle staying in the minors for now. This guy hopefully is our next big home-grown starting pitching talent. Let’s not rush the guy unnecessarily at this point.

        And it’s encouraging to hear that Pettibone is making progress. Hopefully, sometime in May the rotation will consist of Lee, Hamels, Burnett, Kendrick, and Pettibone. A lot of ifs here but that is not a bad rotation if Hamels and Pettibone truly are healthy, if Kendrick is at least what he was the second half of 2012 and if Burnett is the same pitcher he was in Pittsburgh.

  4. bacardipr

    March 13, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Biddle isnt ready. Still needs to hone his control. There’s also a chance the Phils might pick up someone else cuts or guy who options are out.

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