Results tagged ‘ Eppa Rixey ’
Interest in this week’s Braves series turned from 10 to 11 after the Phillies shuffled their rotation to have Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt face Atlanta.
They’re the Big Three.
They might be the Biggest Three in Phillies history.
Has there been a better trio of starting pitchers on any team since the Phillies joined the NL in 1883? I explored that in a story for MLB.com, which can be found here.
I could not find one, and I asked around. There were great duos. Robin Roberts had Curt Simmons. Jim Bunning had Chris Short. Grover Cleveland Alexander had Eppa Rixey. Steve Carlton had Jim Lonborg, Larry Christenson, Dick Ruthven and John Denny in different seasons. But none of them had what the 2010 Phillies have:
- Three pitchers with incredible resumes and reputations. Halladay is a former Cy Young winner, who dominated the American League East for years before he joined the Phillies. He is a good candidate for the Hall of Fame, according to Baseball Reference’s Hall of Fame tests. Oswalt has been one of the top pitchers in the National League for years. He is a two-time, 20-game winner who earned 2005 NLCS MVP honors. Hamels is the youngest pitcher of the bunch, but he earned 2008 World Series and MVP honors.
- Three pitchers pitching at their peaks.
- Three pitchers who could be aces anywhere else.
For example: Alexander pitched with Rixey for a few seasons. Both are Hall of Famers, but it was early in Rixey’s career. He broke out in 1916, when he went 22-10 with a 1.85 ERA. But the third starter that season was Al Demaree, who was not considered anything special. He certainly couldn’t lead a pitching staff, like Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels. I found similar situations with other Phillies aces like Roberts, Bunning, Carlton and Curt Schilling.
There have been seasons where the Phillies have had good years from three starters, but the third starter (and sometimes even the second starter) was a one-year wonder, before his prime or after his prime. Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels are not that.
Agree? Disagree? Be curious to see which trio you would take over the Big Three.
Taking the elevator from the press box to the visitor’s clubhouse last night at Citi Field, I was thinking about J.A. Happ‘s season and started wondering how good his rookie year is compared to other rookie years in Phillies history.
It turns out it is very good.
He is 10-2 with a 2.59 ERA following a 4-1 victory over the Mets. The last Phillies rookie to win 11 games? Bob Walk in 1980. The last Phillies rookie to win 12 or more games? Tom Underwood in 1975, when he won 14.
The last Phillies rookie to finish with a lower ERA than Happ’s current 2.59?
Eppa Rixey‘s 2.50 ERA in 1912.
Grover Cleveland Alexander holds the franchise record with 28 wins for a rookie. He accomplished that in 1911, when he went 28-13 with a 2.57 ERA. (Old Pete threw 367 innings his rookie season.)
“J.A. does not pitch like he’s a young pitcher,” said Brad Lidge, who pitched a perfect ninth to earn 24th save. “He pitches like he’s been under pressure his whole life. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. He’s getting guys out, especially with runners in scoring position. He’s just very hard to hit. He’s got deception. He’s got location. And his ball has got life on it. When he keeps doing what he’s been doing, we’ve got tons of confidence. Honestly, he’s pitching like he’s one of the best pitchers in the National League. I know he’s a rookie, but it is what it is. He’s pitching like one of the best guys in the National League.”
Happ’s ERA is the lowest for any rookie pitcher anywhere since Hideo Nomo in 1995, when he had a 2.54 ERA.
In the previous 50 seasons (1959-2008), just 10 rookie pitchers have had lower ERAs than Happ’s current ERA:
- Stan Bahnsen‘s 2.05 ERA in 1968
- Jerry Koosman‘s 2.08 ERA in 1968
- Jon Matlack‘s 2.32 ERA in 1972
- Gary Peters‘ 2.33 ERA in 1963
- Mark Fidrych‘s 2.33 ERA in 1976
- Fernando Valenzuela‘s 2.48 ERA in 1981
- Ken Forsch‘s 2.53 ERA in 1971
- Nomo’s 2.54 ERA in 1995
- Al Downing‘s 2.56 ERA in 1963
- Gary Nolan‘s 2.58 ERA in 1967.