Setting impossible standards for the Phillies

If you’re a Mets fan, you might want to sit down for this one. Heck, if you’re the fan of any National League team, it’s probably best that you not read this while on your feet, operating heavy machinery or holding any sharp objects.

Here are the career won-lost records and winning percentages of Philadelphia’s new Phantastic Phour (they are not the Four Horsemen; as a Notre Dame alum, I won’t allow it):

Roy Halladay, 169-86 (.663)
Cliff Lee, 102-61 (.626)
Roy Oswalt, 150-83 (.644)
Cole Hamels, 60-45 (.571)

Lee’s signing does bring up the temptation to speculate on whether the Phillies should just go with a four-man rotation. As a throwback kind of guy, I’d love to see that. So what would that mean over the course of 162 games? Combined, their winning percentage comes out to 481-275 (.636). We’re not going for an airtight scientific/sabermetric argument here; I’m simply throwing out numbers and seeing how scary the results can be. So multiplying that .636 by 162 (for a full season), Philadelphia would win 103 games — and that’s not accounting for games that the Phillies win after those starters have been removed and don’t get credit for the decision.

So that’s 103-59 just based on the Phour’s combined career winning percentage and without using any other starters.

But a four-man — or Phour-man — rotation is not bloody likely, so what if Charlie Manuel only uses a fifth starter on days when he absolutely must? That is, what if Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels start every fifth day, not every fifth game, and a fifth starter only gets the ball when a string of games without off-days requires it? The starts would break down like this:

Halladay 36
Lee 34
Oswalt 34
Hamels 32
Fifth starter 26

Those numbers include a rotation reset after the All-Star break, when the Phillies benefit by getting the Thursday after the game off as well, meaning they’ll have four full days from Sunday to Friday and can reset their rotation in order, one through five. Plus, under this setup with no deviations (not likely, but we’re just speculating here), Halladay would pitch the Saturday before the All-Star Game and could presumably pitch three innings on two days’ rest in the Midsummer Classic, then get two more days’ rest before starting the second-half opener.

So adding them up, that’s 136 games started by the Phour; a .636 winning percentage in those games is 86 wins. So if that percentage holds and they get nothing — 0-26 — from a fifth starter, they’re still in contention for a division title and the wild card.

Clearly, what this means is that the pressure is entirely on the Phillies. They can only beat themselves. If this team doesn’t win 120 games and go undefeated in the postseason, it’s a failure, plain and simple. Anything less would be a letdown of immense proportions and they should just clean house, starting with Ruben Amaro and Charlie Manuel.

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