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Philadelphia Phillies' Spring Training Preview: Starting pitching push remains

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Talk of the Philadelphia Phillies' 2008 World Series Championship often begins with comments about that fabled offensive machine. But, many solid starting pitching performances proved to be as vital to the team's success as every home run ball that was hit during that iconic year.

Charlie Manuel's best WHIP man that season was Cole Hamels (1.082). But, the starter with next-best sabermetric line was Jamie Moyer (1.329). Moyer also topped the Phillies in wins that season by going 16-7. Hamels' 14-10 mark put him in second-place.

Sorry, statistical divas, wins actually are an important point, even if you disagree. The mental part of the game goes beyond simple numbers. Taking and holding the lead in any game counts. That's common sense in any era.

Brett Myers, Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton rounded out the Phillies' starting staff six seasons ago and Adam Eaton also started 19 games.

Hamels is still around. He heads the 2014 rotation along with Cliff Lee. Jamie Moyer is back as well, albeit in the broadcast booth now. After those two top left-handed starters have thrown, Kendrick is the only arm that can be considered somewhat reliable.

Miguel Gonzalez might rate third on the Phillies' pre-season depth chart. In reality, no one knows what the 27-year-old rookie right-hander might do this season, because he hasn't thrown regularly in almost two years.

Roberto Hernandez, a 33-year-old free agent addition, had a great year for the Cleveland Indians in 2007, as he finished fourth in the American League's Cy Young Award voting. He went 8-7 the next year and has produced erratic WHIP lines ever since. This right-hander can't be considered anything more than a fifth starter 'candidate', along with fellow righty Jonathan Pettibone, as of mid-February.

General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. is offering Ryne Sandberg a decent starting rotation to work. However, they know that this combined collection of mound men aren't good enough to lead a playoff push. If additions, or summertime reinforcements are lacking, crossing the .500 win-line could prove to be a challenge once again.

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