PHILLIES travel to Washington for weekend series with Nationals.....PHILLIES are 39-33, 3.5 GB NL East.....BE BOLD ...

Saturday, June 16, 2018

What do the Phillies have at the back of the rotation?

Zach Eflin hopes to be long term member of Phils rotation
The Philadelphia Phillies have been experiencing a number of problems over the past two months. Since April 25, the team has struggled along with a 20-24 record.

Fingers have mostly been pointed at an offense that is now 12th of the 15 National League clubs in both OPS and Runs scored.

There have also been numerous critics of the constant lineup and positional juggling by rookie manager Gabe Kapler, including from yours truly.

One area where the Phillies have generally received solid performances on a consistent basis has been the front of their starting pitching rotation.

Aaron Nola has broken out to legitimate ace status. He is currently 8-2 with a 2.27 ERA, a minuscule 0.934 WHIP, and a fantastic 90/22 K:BB ratio. He has yielded just 63 hits over 91 innings across 14 starts.

Having turned just 25 years old earlier this month and not eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season, Nola should be counted on as a key cog moving forward.

Veteran free agent signee Jake Arrieta has been less consistent than Nola, but has still been generally effective. Even after a poor outing last night, the 32-year old is 5-5 with a 3.33 ERA, and has allowed fewer hits than innings pitched. He'll be fine.

It is the back end of that Phillies starting rotation the brings the most open questions. Is Vince Velasquez actually a starting pitcher long term, and not better utilized out of the bullpen?

Are either or both of Nick Pivetta and Zach Eflin starting pitchers who can be counted on for the long term as the Phillies build toward true contention?

Velasquez, who came to the Phillies as part of the Ken Giles trade with Houston, is the most interesting. He clearly has dominating stuff at times, as he demonstrated in his most recent outing on Thursday afternoon when he surrendered just one hit to the Colorado Rockies over 6.2 innings.

But the problem with Velasquez, who turned 26 years of age earlier this month, has never been pure stuff. He has shown that kind of dominance before.

The problem is that the talented right-hander never carries it forward with any consistency, usually following up a great game or two with another three or four less-than-satisfactory efforts.

Pivetta, who arrived from Washington in a trade for Jonathan Papelbon, is a 25-year old right-hander. He is just 4-6 this season with a slightly elevated 4.25 ERA.

However, Pivetta also has a strong 81/21 K:BB mark, and has surrendered just 68 hits over 72 innings across 14 starts.

Pivetta cannot be a free agent until after the 2021 season, so the Phillies theoretically have a long time to measure his results and his future role.



At 24 years of age, Eflin is the youngest of this mostly young group. He came to the Phillies as part of the Jimmy Rollins deal a few years back.

This season, Eflin is 3-2 with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.185 WHIP, both solid marks. He has a 40/10 K:BB ratio, and has allowed 37 hits over 39.2 innings pitched.

Eflin had a horrendous three-start stretch from mid-late May. Across those starts he was ripped for a dozen earned runs and 19 hits in 13.1 innings, losing two of the three. But aside from that he has performed well.



The only other pitcher to make a start for the 2018 Phillies was Ben Lively. The right-hander is currently battling back from an injury. While Lively is a nice pitcher who competes well many nights, I believe that he is a depth starter best suited to AAA and emergency fill-in status on a contender.