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Phillies v. Braves Top Three Starters: I'll Take Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt Anyday

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With the Phillies moving Roy Oswalt's start up a day later this week (although keeping him on normal rest), the Phils are poised to use no one other than their devastatingly good three-headed monster of Oswalt, Roy Halladay, and Cole Hamels in both of the remaining series against the Braves.

And that's bad news for the Braves.  Even more to the point, it's bad news even if the Braves throw their top three starters at the Phillies -- Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, and Derek Lowe.

Comparing both teams' top three starters makes it painfully obvious how much better the Phillies' top starters are than the Braves.  In fact, a good argument can be made that there isn't a single Braves top-3 starter that is preferable to a single Phillies top-3 starter.

Here are the stats through the entire season (with Roy Oswalt's stats for the entire year, not just when he was a Phillie):

Phillies IP ERA FIP xFIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 OPS WAR
Roy Halladay 228.67 2.44 3.03 2.91 1.05 7.9 1.1 0.9 0.650 6.2
Cole Hamels 194.67 3.01 3.62 3.38 1.16 9.3 2.6 1.1 0.682 3.8
Roy Oswalt 192.67 2.94 3.42 3.51 1.05 8.1 2.4 0.9 0.625 4.0
Braves IP ERA FIP xFIP WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 OPS WAR
Tim Hudson 203 2.62 3.81 3.79 1.13 5.4 2.7 0.6 0.623 3.2
Tommy Hanson 178 3.54 3.35 4.10 1.20 7.9 2.5 0.7 0.665 3.8
Derek Lowe 177 4.22 4.02 3.76 1.39 6.2 2.9 0.9 0.743 2.3

As a unit, the comparison isn't even close. The highest Phillies' ERA is 3.01, the highest WHIP is 1.16, and the lowest WAR is 3.8. Only Tim Hudson can break into the ERA and WHIP class of the Phillies' top-3, but he hasn't had the same overall value this year, with a WAR of only 3.2. Tommy Hanson, with his higher ERA and WHIP, actually has a higher WAR, tying Cole Hamels at 3.8.

Looking at each pitcher individually, is there a single Braves starter you would want this year over one of the Phillies? The only argument that can really be made is that Tim Hudson, with his 2.62 ERA, could qualify, either to replace Hamels or Oswalt. However, that's a stretch, as Hudson's peripherals indicate he just hasn't pitched to match the ERA he's put up -- his K/9 is the lowest of the six pitchers here, and his BB/9 is the second highest. He's been absurdly lucky so far, as his BABIP for the year is .256, way below his career average of .284. Ultimately, he's had less value to the Braves (as measured by WAR) than any of the Phillies' top-3. No thanks, I'll stick with each of the Phillies' pitchers.

But, you're a Braves fan, and you think to yourself that this season-long comparison isn't right, as the Braves' pitchers have been better in the second half. Well, let's look at the post-All Star break comparison. Note, I don't have the FIP, xFIP, and WAR splis for post-All Star break, so this chart isn't as detailed, but it still does the trick:

Phillies IP ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 OPS
Roy Halladay 80.67 2.90 1.04 8.1 1.0 1.2 0.678
Cole Hamels 82.67 1.96 0.93 10.2 1.9 0.5 0.561
Roy Oswalt 63.67 1.98 0.93 7.6 2.4 0.8 0.570
Braves IP ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 OPS
Tim Hudson 81.67 3.09 1.13 6.7 2.1 0.6 0.641
Tommy Hanson 75.67 2.74 0.98 6.2 1.9 0.7 0.581
Derek Lowe 63.33 3.98 1.36 7.2 2.0 1.1 0.756

Again, the Phillies' top-3 as a group blows away the top-3 starters for the Braves. Hamels and Oswalt have been even more incredible in the second half than Hanson has been. And, is there anyone on the planet who would take Hanson over Halladay, even though Halladay's second half has been, by most metrics, slightly worse? I didn't think so.

The Phillies' top-3 has been incredible this year. As a whole, they are clearly heads above the top-3 starters the Braves have. And, individually, there's really very little argument that any one of the top-3 Braves' starters belongs with the Phillies' top-3.

Starting pitching? Advantage Phillies . . . by a long shot.