Found August 18, 2012 on Fox Sports Wisconsin:
Mlb-all-star-home-run
MILWAUKEE When Cliff Lee signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in December2010, putting the finishing brush strokes on a piece de resistance of a pitching rotation, the baseball world took notice. The Phillies, it appeared, had just constructed one of the best rotations in the history of major league baseball. That's not a title that anyone around the sport takes lightly, either. To be the best-ever anything in baseball requires a legendary amount of talent and skill, considering the sheer pedigree of players that have been a part of the league for over a century. But the Phillies, before they had even played a game, were undoubtedly the best, it seemed. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, and Roy Oswalt were mythically good, miles ahead of mere mortal pitching staffs that populated the rest of the majors. The 2011 season only fed the media fire surrounding the Phillies' staff, as Philadelphia's rotation indeed turned in one of the best single season efforts in major league history. They tallied the best strikeouts per walks ratio of all time (4.22) and ranked in the top five all-time in wins above replacement (25.8), strikeout percentage (21.6 percent), and walk percentage (5.1 percent). The Phillies finished with the best record in baseball, winning 102 games. But their rotation couldn't get them farther than the first round of the playoffs, as they lost to the eventual World Series champion Cardinals. Still, heading into 2012, the Phillies rotation still carried the luster it did when the group graced the well-known April cover of Sports Illustrated in 2011 with the title "NO HITTERS" emblazoned below them. That is, until the legendary, eye-popping results suddenly stopped, and everyone and anyone seemed to be able to hit the Phillies. The 2012 season has not been a kind one to the Phillies as a whole, and that goes double for a rotation that was supposed to be one of the best of all time. Halladay has been on and off the disabled list, starting in just 17 games and tallying a 6-7 record and 3.80 ERA that qualifies as his worst season since 2004. Lee has been similarly ineffective with just two wins and a 3.83 ERA. And while Hamels has been outstanding his 13-6 record and 2.91 ERA would likely put him in contention for the NL Cy Young the guys rounding out the rotation, Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick, have been little more than average. But with a reputation so well established and a pedestal placed so highly above the rest of the rotations in baseball, does the potential for greatness and sheer hype outweigh the reality of the Phillies' pitching problems? "I think because there are some other staffs that are so good now certainly the Giants have to be in there but there are some other staffs that are fantastic," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said on Friday. "It's hard for me to say this year that they're the best staff. I would've said that last year, and the year before I would've said they're the best starting staffs." This year, the one-time Greatest Rotation of All-Time is fighting just to be considered as one of the best in the National League. Six NL teams rank above them in rotation ERA, and eight NL teams have a lower batting average against than they do. The Phillies are still tops in many of the categories still that put them in the conversation as one of the baseball's all-time greats. Their strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.82) leads both leagues and is a full strikeout higher than 22 other teams in major league baseball. But through struggles that have been evident to any team keeping a watchful eye on the Phillies, has the luster of a seemingly unhittable, unshakeable, and indestructible pitching rotation worn off? "It's still around," Roenicke said. "Everybody, when you talk about the Phillies staff, it's always, 'Wow, you have to face the Phillies' staff?' It's always thought of very highly. ... When you look at numbers of Halladay and Lee, you still know that, when they're on their game, you're not going to get any runs. You don't really look at so much just numbers." The trio of Halladay, Lee, and Hamels still carries that reputation with them, even if the results haven't necessarily been there this season. Players are fully aware that the potential is still there, with any of them, to throw a complete-game shutout or roll through a lineup for 10 strikeouts in a single start. Brewers shortstop Cody Ransom knows that potential well, considering he played behind two-thirds of the top-tier trio during the 2010 season. Since then though, he, like many of their opponents, have focused on minimizing the intimidation that comes with a title like "the best of all-time". "They're great pitchers," Ransom said. "It's fun to play behind them because they like to be out there. They all want to throw complete games. It's pretty special to have pitchers like that. They're good, and they've been good for a while. But when you're facing somebody, you can't give them that kind of credit. You can't think like that." But 20 games back in the hunt for the NL East, it won't likely matter how well the Phillies rotation pitches for the rest of this season. Beyond that, it's unclear whether the rotation will remain in place for the near future. Hamels is now locked down by a multi-year contract, but the team was open about their options to move Lee before the trade deadline. And it's unclear whether Halladay will be able to bounce back from what's been an injury-riddled season. Still, as other pitching rotations attempt to match what the Phillies put together before the 2011 season, Philadelphia remains the benchmark, with three of baseball's 16 winningest active pitchers at the top of their rotation. But for how long? "They're amazing baseball players," Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks said. "Granted, they've had their struggles this year, but they have a track record. You have to abide by that." Follow Ryan Kartje on Twitter.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES
SEAT OF HIS PANTS

Cliff Lee falls takes a spill while checking swing

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee fell to the ground while checking his swing during his sixth inning at-bat during Thursday's MLB game against the Milwaukee Brewers. The umpires confirmed that Lee successfully checked his swing on the 0-2 pitch, but Lee nearly turned his ankle as he fell awkwardly while doing so. Fortunately Lee was not hurt, but he ended up striking...

Cliff Lee Experiences Embarrassing Moment, Falling On the Ground After Checking His Swing (Video)

The 2012 season has been an anomaly for Cliff Lee. Usually one of the league's best pitchers, the Phillies ace didn't notch his first win of the season until July 4 despite delivering his share of quality performances. On Thursday, he experienced another strange occurrence, but this time it took place at the plate. During an at-bat against Brewers pitcher Jose Veras, Lee...

Cliff Lee takes tumble after swinging at pitch

Back on Friday, we featured a couple clips from the Yankees/Rangers game where Andruw Jones and Mike Adams had problems standing up.Another notable name in Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee also took a tumble on Thursday night but his was more of the swinging variety.Watch as Lee gets fooled on this pitch from Milwaukee's Jose Veras and falls down while trying to check...

Phillies Bullpen Bombs Again

It is difficult to imagine what must be going through Cliff Lee’s head these days. He has had his ups and downs, but certainly has pitched better than just the 2 wins on his record indicate. Last night, he had a quality start against the Brewers, allowing 3 runs in 7 2/3 innings. But that good start was quickly wiped away in the Phillies cursed 8th inning. And once again, it was...

Lee's Masterful Outing Erased as Fielding, Bullpen Blunders Prove Costly.

Final: Phillies 4, Brewers 7. WP: Livan Hernandez (4-1, 5.06 ERA) LP: Josh Lindblom (2-3, 3.76 ERA) SV: Jim Henderson (3) Cliff Lee had his pitches going for him tonight. At least after the first few innings, anyway, when he gave up three home runs- two of them to 2011 National League MVP Ryan Braun.  He lasted seven and two-thirds innings, allowing 3 runs and just 5 hits, while...

Phillies Blow Another Late Lead In Loss To Brewers

Utley's display of hustle wouldn't be enough tonight. (AP) A magical season for the Phillies continued tonight when their bullpen managed to blow yet another late lead in a 7-4 loss to the Brewers. This is beginning to look awfully familiar, isn’t it? HARD LUCK CLIFF - Cliff Lee‘s career against the Brewers has been quite the struggle. Coming into tonight’s game, he...

GIFcap: Andruw Jones Loses War With The Sun + Mike Adams & Cliff Lee Shot By Snipers

With the Dodgers Andruw Jones tried to become a planet and go to war with the Moon. He succeeded. With the Yankees, he tried to fight the Sun. He lost. Don’t worry guys, I saw them

Top 5 Fantasy Disappointments in 2012 – Hitters and Pitchers

I’m a fantasy baseball nut. During the preseason I spend more time studying than someone who is getting ready for the Bar Exam.  I eat, sleep, and breathe fantasy baseball, but no matter how much I study I will never be able to hit 100% on my predictions.  An educated analysis can only take you so far, and then real life takes over.  No one can foresee the unexpected: injuries...

Hart, Braun Crush Phillies in 7-4 Loss

Cliff Lee came so close to that third win tonight. So close.  Cliff Lee struck out the side in the bottom of the first inning. You know, a strikeout, another strikeout, two solo home runs, and another strikeout. The solo homers went to Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez, the Phillies killers from the previous Brewers-Phillies series at home. In the top of the third, Ryan Howard reached...

Brewers 7, Phillies 4

Corey Hart's grand slam with two outs in the eighth inning prevented Philadelphia's Cliff Lee from getting a rare win as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Phillies 7-4 on Thursday night. Livan Hernandez (4-1) pitched a scoreless eighth for the victory. Jim Henderson recorded the final two outs for his third save in four chances, getting Erik Kratz to ground out with the bases...

Phillies eating the ball, and it doesn’t taste good, bye Charlie

In the fourth inning of a 1-0 Phillies lead Friday, Dom Brown misplayed Nigel Morgan’s ball to center for a 2-1 Brewers’ lead. It would be 4-1 after the inning was over. Ballgame. Phillies lost 6-2. Thursday’s loss was more madnening. The Phillies, thanks to a bases clearing double by Kevin Frandsen, took a 4-3 lead into the eighth inning. Cliff Lee, working on a 12 strikeout...

Philles Can Still Make the Playoffs! #YouGottaBelieve

Many of us fans believe the Philadelphia Phillies are completely done, but are they? With a win over the Brewers last night, the Phillies record is now 56-65 putting the 11 games out of the Wild Card. With 41 games remaining this season, it becomes a long shot, but definitely not impossible. If the Fightins win 34 of their next 40 games, they will improve their record to 90-71. In...

Series Preview - Reds

Monday, 7:05 - Roy Halladay v. Mike LeakeTuesday, 7:05 -Cliff Lee v. Homer BaileyWednesday, 7:05 - The Vanimal v. Bronson ArroyoThursday, 7:05 - Cole Hamels v. John CuetoReds Batting:- Jay Bruce is .406-4-9 in his last 8 games- Scott Rolen is hitting .387 in August  but because of new/old back problems, should only play in two or three games this series.  - Joey Votto has been...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.