Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels will return to anchor the starting rotation. That's a pretty good starting point and still up there along with the great starting pitching tandems in the major leagues. In 2013, Lee and Hamels were the only tandem in the majors to pile up 220 innings and were one of four pairs to pile up 200-plus innings.
Based on the Baseball-Reference WAR numbers, only the Dodgers (Kershaw and Greinke) and Tigers (Scherzer and Sanchez) had two pitchers with a higher combined WAR than Lee and Hamels.
But what is WAR good for when a team is as top-heavy as the Phils were in 2013? After Hamels and Lee, the Phillies' pitching staff is wide open.
Here's what they have to work with so far:
* Kyle Kendrick will be tendered a contract, according to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. It will be Kendrick's final year of arbitration and after getting $7.5 million the last couple of seasons and is in line for a raise despite an up-and-down 2013.
* Roy Halladay also could return, but that's still unknown. Halladay's future has been covered pretty extensively here and other places.
* Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the Cuban right-hander, is signed for three seasons and reportedly throws six different pitches. But whether Gonzalez is ready for the big leagues or needs some polishing in the minors remains to be seen. Gonzalez is 27, so if he's going to start in the minors it's going to be brief.
Otherwise, the Phillies have 22-year old Jonathan Pettibone, who made 18 starts in 2013 and 24-year old Ethan Martin, who appears to be headed for a role in the bullpen. In the minors, lefty Adam Morgan is a well-regarded prospect and then there is Jesse Biddle, the organization's top pitching prospect. Biddle will be 22 next week and appears to be a year away from cracking the rotation.
In free agency, there are plenty of solid choices for a team to rebuild the back end of a rotation. Though there is no real must-have/stop-the-presses starters set to test the market, there are a few interesting names out there.
Scott Feldman, Josh Johnson, Scott Kazmir, Ubaldo Jimenez, Edison Volquez and Tim Lincecum are among the more interesting. Shoot, the Phillies could put together a reunion with some of the free-agent pitchers that once spent time in Philly. Bruce Chen, Freddy Garcia, Gavin Floyd and Roy Oswalt will be free agents ...
Shudder the thought.