I didn’t feel like we had a terribly strong field for RHP, so I naturally assumed we must for lefties. Alas, also a difficult field but this time with a clear favorite.
I guess as we reflect on nine years of AAA baseball around here, we haven’t had a ton of shut-down starting pitchers. Guys have had short stretches, but the best we’ve seen–with Nola at or near the front of that group–are quickly promoted. Starting pitching is certainly a valuable commodity on the MLB level. It was no coincidence that the IronPigs team that made the playoffs last year and sported one of the strongest staffs in team history. Given the Phillies’ rebuild philosophy, that strength should continue this season and probably into the future–which bodes well for watching winning baseball around here.
But I digress. Let’s get down to looking at the LHP starters–a group I think probably should have included Adam Morgan:
Anthony Vasquez: The quick-working and wily lefty had his fair share of starts and strong outings over the past two seasons. Plus, his story coming back from emergency brain surgery is surely significant. But he was never dominant, and never had a real opportunity to get back to the big leagues with the Phillies.
Brian Mazone: Brian was a strong pitcher for the early, struggling Piggies, and returned in a subsequent season to continue to contribute. He also had his fair share of poor outings. He’s a strong candidate who deserves to be on this list.
Greg Smith: He was the best we could throw out there for a time. His pick-off move to first is legendary. However, he also had his struggles at times and never had any love from the Phillies.
JA Happ: The clear choice here is Happ. He was dominant for the early Pigs, and contributed on the Phillies. He’s no longer with the club, but is still in the Majors and had an excellent season last year. Did you know?–Michael Taylor hit for his cycle on “JA Happ Bobblehead Day?” Not that he needs it, but Happ gets our endorsement here.
See you at the park,