On paper, the Philadelphia Phillies are either back or ready for the old folks home. Their top two starters are as good as any in the league, they have an elite closer and the best hitting catcher in the division.
The Phillies undoubtedly have the most offensive catcher in the National League East in Carlos Ruiz. After he completes a 25-game drug suspension to start season, Ruiz will be an important clog in the offensive. In 2012, he was the team’s offensive. He hit .325 with a.935 OPS as a catcher. His contribution will be missed sorely.
Eric Kratz, who had nine dingers in 50 games in 2012, will start behind the plate until Ruiz is reinstated. Although he is 32 years old, Kratz only has 181 major league at bats.
Cole Hamels showed the best arm on the team last year going 17-6 with a 3.05 ERA, 1.12 hits and walks per nine innings (WHIP) and striking out 216 in 215.3 innings. He will probably be rewarded with an opening day start but nothing is set in stone.
Cliff Lee posted a 1.11 WHIP and 3.16 ERA during 211 innings. Lee struck out 207 batters, but was only 6-9 in 2012 thanks to the Phillies offense, or lack thereof. The southpaw led the majors with an 8.8 K-to-walk ratio. Lee is 34, but the hurler has more than 200 in each of the past two seasons.
It looks like father time has caught up with thirty-five year-old Roy Halladay. The Phillies have demoted to him to No. 3 on the depth chart. Last season he went 11-8 on a team that could not hit. Over 156.3 innings he struck out 132, allowing 1.22 WHIP and kept opponents to a 4.49 ERA.
Kyle Kendrick and former Nat John Lannan are the team's fourth and fifth starters.
Lack of hitting aside, the Phillies bullpen was another problem last year. The team ERA in the eighth inning was 4.67, its highest of any inning. Philadelphia inked Mike Adams from Texas to set up Jonathan Papelbon.
Folks will be looking to see which Antonio Bastardo show up in 2013. The reliever carried a 5.45 ERA through 47 appearances through Aug. 21, but had a 1.29 ERA in 18 appearances the rest of the way.