Phils ‘R2C2’ heads to Spring Training

By Rachael Renz
February 8, 2011

It’s that time of the year again. Football is finally over with a Packers Super Bowl win and now begins one of America’s greatest sports – baseball. Starting on Monday, Feb. 14, the Philadelphia Phillies report to Spring Training in Clearwater, Fla.

When it comes time to check in at Bright House Field, home of the minor league Clearwater Threshers, it is known that one of the best pitching rotations in baseball will step on the field to begin their 2011 training.

Thankfully, one of my personal favorites, Cliff Lee, returned to the Phillies in December. The day Lee signed that five-year contract, was the day the entire world of baseball, Phillies “phans” and spectators realized the Phillies now have one of the best, if not the best, rotations in baseball.

According to The New York Times, “The Phillies have assembled one of the great pitching staffs in baseball history.”

Glad to know a New York publication, regardless of how nationally known and prestigious they are, can admit that our heavenly pitching rotation is something to be worried about.

Philadelphia Phillies' Roy Halladay pitches the first two innings against the New York Yankees during a spring training game at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., Thursday, March 4, 2010.

Ron Washington, manager of the Rangers, said in an ESPN article, “Bring them on. They have a great pitching staff, that’s for sure. But it only matters how you play that day. We’ll have to be ready.”

Washington is right but that goes for anyone. A team could have the best infield and outfield with a great arm leading the way but if they don’t have their head in the game and they aren’t in sync with one another, it’s a waste.

The fact that we are now one of the most feared teams within the league is extremely satisfying. With our infamous reputation and our formidable “R2C2” rotation (Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee) we have the necessary skill, potential and talent to be unstoppable.

Lee isn’t the only pitcher I’m excited to see on the mound. With seven wins and one loss, a shutout against the Mets, an ERA of 1.74 in his regular season and a win in the NLDS against the Reds all in his first season as a Phillie, I can’t wait to see what Oswalt brings to the plate this season, no pun intended.

You can never really compare one pitcher to another because every athlete is different, every player has different stamina and every pitcher has a different mindset. But, if you were to compare Oswalt and Halladay after their first seasons with the Phillies, Halladay would be anyone’s favorite.

Halladay, like Oswalt, had a win in the  NLDS and also had a loss to the Giants in the NLCS. But unlike Oswalt, his win against the Reds was a no-hitter. Halladay also had 21 wins and 10 losses in the regular season, the second best season of his professional career. But, that seems like nothing when you look at his other astonishing statistics.

Besides accomplishing a record-breaking four shutouts in the 2010 season, “Doc” also managed to pitch the 20th perfect game in Major League Baseball history against the Marlins. But this still doesn’t top what was next to come for the 33-year-old right-handed pitcher. In November, Halladay was honored with the 2010 Cy Young award.

For me, completing one of his best seasons to date and beating the Reds with a no-hitter, helping us advance to the NLCS, is enough. The fact that Halladay is one of the best pitchers in the sport and he wears red and white pinstripes is remarkable.

As for Hamels, I believe he is the weakest link of the rotation. Although he  finished the regular season with 12 wins and 11 losses and had an ERA of 3.06, he had no shutouts and gave up over 70 home runs, which is not up to the par with his teammates.

In my mind, he doesn’t deserve to be recognized as a part of the best pitching rotation around. But, looking at his past seasons of 15 wins and only five losses and being awarded MVP of the 2008 World Series, one can only hope he will revive his abilities for this upcoming season.

So if the Phils bring their best to Florida next week and come home with anticipation and great attitudes, I have no doubt that our powerhouse pitching rotation will be unstoppable and lead us to the World Series once again.

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Rachael Renz

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