As the 2010s wind down, PhilliesNation.com will go position-by-position in determining the Philadelphia Phillies All-Decade team.
Over the last decade, 52 different pitchers have made at least one start in a Phillies uniform. Most of these pitchers are quite forgettable.
Cole Hamels led all Phillies starters in innings pitched, wins, strikeouts, fWAR, and several other categories during this decade. Following behind him (but well separated from the rest of the pack) are Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Aaron Nola. Beyond these four aces, however, there is a major drop-off:
Vince Velasquez has been a mainstay in the rotation for four seasons, but has been more frustrating than anything during his time as a Phillie. Jerad Eickhoff had a brilliant 2016 but hasn’t been able to be a productive member of the rotation since. Kyle Kendrick was helpful during the Phillies playoff runs in the previous decade, but struggled more times than not in his last few seasons with the team. After these candidates, no one stands out. Jeremy Hellickson was solid in 2016, but struggled in 2017 prior to being traded. Vance Worley and Joe Blanton spent multiple seasons with the team during this decade, but were mostly ineffective.
As for the bullpen, the Phillies did not have many extremely successful arms during what was, for the most part, a decade full of bad teams. The most obvious candidate is Jonathan Papelbon, who was not well liked but was extremely effective throughout his time in Philadelphia. Additional candidates include Ken Giles, who was electric in his two year stint as a Phillie, and Hector Neris, who is currently the longest tenured Phillie still with the team and is arguably coming off the best season of his career.
The Verdict and Best Moments
Hamels is one of the best pitchers in Phillies history, and much of his success with the team came during his first five plus seasons this decade. Over 178 starts, Hamels accumulated 25.6 fWAR and pitched to the tune of a 3.06 ERA.
His best moment came in his last start as a Phillie. Just days before he was traded to the Texas Rangers, Hamels twirled a no-hitter in Chicago against the Cubs:
Nola was first called up to the major league rotation just days before Hamels’ last start in a Phillies uniform, and has solidified his place at the top of the team’s pitching staff since.
His best season came in 2018, when he finished with third in National League Cy Young Award voting with a 2.37 ERA. While he was not the same pitcher in 2019, he has still proven himself the ace of the Phillies and a key piece in their core moving forward.
One of his highlight games came in 2018, when he outdueled Max Scherzer and helped the Phillies take down the Washington Nationals. In this game, Nola pitched eight shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing just six baserunners:
Lee’s first stint with the Phillies came in 2009, and he returned to the team in 2011 and pitched until an injury mid-way through the 2014 season.
In 106 starts with the team this decade, Lee pitched to a 2.89 ERA and racked up 19.6 fWAR, the fourth highest total in baseball during that period. But despite his consistent brilliance, Lee was never on a winning team after 2011 and ultimately retired in 2016 after failing to return from the elbow injury that shortened his 2014 season.
Lee’s best moment as a Phillie in this decade came in 2012, when he pitched 10 shutout innings against the San Francisco Giants. The Phillies lost despite his best efforts, which was pretty representative of much of Lee’s time as a Phillie.
In 2012, Halladay hit a wall, and he never pitched again following 2013. However, his success in 2010 and 2011 was so great that he easily slots into the all-decade rotation. During those two seasons, Halladay led the majors in innings pitched, ERA and fWAR, among several other categories. He was great.
Halladay’s best moment came in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS, when he threw a no-hitter against the Reds in his first career postseason start. This, of course, came just a few months after Halladay threw the second perfect game in franchise history against the Florida Marlins:
Due to his (relative) longevity and mild success at points during his career as a Phillie, Velasquez gets the nod as the fifth starter for the all-decade rotation. While he has certainly been frustrating throughout much of his career as a Phillie, he is top-6 among all Phillies starters in starts, innings pitched and strikeouts, and he had some mild success at points in his Phillies career. Velasquez is also the all-time franchise leader in strikeouts (minimum 400 innings pitched), which solidifies his position ahead of the aforementioned Eickhoff and Kendrick on this list.
His best moment came in just his second start as a Phillie, in which he threw a complete game shutout against the San Diego Padres. In this game, one of the best individual starts in franchise history, Velasquez struck out 16 and walked none, becoming just the 16th player in MLB history with such a start (there have been three additional such starts since):
Closer: Jonathan Papelbon
Papelbon was nowhere near a fan favorite, but he was undoubtedly the best reliever on the Phillies during the fast decade. He is the all-time franchise leader in saves, and certainly played to his 4-year, $50 million contract that he received prior to the 2012 season. The Phillies never had a winning season with Papelbon, and ultimately traded him to the Washington Nationals in exchange for Nick Pivetta during the 2015 season.
Papelbon’s best moment came in May of 2015, when he earned a save against the Pittsburgh Pirates to put him ahead of Jose Mesa as the Phillies all-time saves leader with 112.
Other entries this series:
- Phillies All-Decade outfielders
- Phillies All-Decade third baseman
- Phillies All-Decade shortstop
- Phillies All-Decade second baseman
- Phillies All-Decade catcher
- Phillies All-Decade first baseman
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