Phillies: Rotation’s repertoire analysis for 2020

CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies warms up prior to a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Spectrum Field on February 23, 2020 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies warms up prior to a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Spectrum Field on February 23, 2020 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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The Phillies believe Wheeler’s electric stuff will translate into a solid two-slot hurler. Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images. /

Aside from their ace, three young Phillies starters must hone their craft from two above-average pitches out of four in their arsenal and develop the other two during their first 60 to 120 starts.

Four-pitch requirement:   

Normally, some Philadelphia Phillies fans envision success from rookie hurlers because of exceptions achieving phenomenal results. In fact, most moundsmen don’t have three dominant pitches and pinpoint control like Aaron Nola. No, superstars are a rare breed!

"IN OTHER WORDS:    “Analyzing what you haven’t got as well as what you have is a necessary ingredient of a career.” – Orison Swett Marden"

Until camp begins anew for two* weeks, some starters could pitch simulated games somewhere to maintain their arm strength. Plus they’ll have one or two starts in Clearwater to hopefully reach an 80 pitch count and establish 70 percent accuracy: 70 out of 100.  So, expect 5-6 innings tops in their first 2-3 outings. * could change to four weeks if delay continues.

A five-man staff has two types of hurlers. Basically, the first pitcher has a rotation spot, and his numbers are irrelevant: They experiment with a new pitch and/or hone their secondary offerings. For the red pinstripes, they include Nola, Zack Wheeler, Jake Arrieta and Zach Eflin.

The Fightins’ second group has three moundsmen competing for the fifth slot: Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta and southpaw Ranger Suarez. Here, the stats matter and will determine who slots behind Eflin. But this battle is far from over: It could come down to spring training’s final week.

In this competition, the favorite is obviously Velasquez. Entering camp, Pivetta had demotions to Triple-A and the bullpen in 2019, plus Velasquez had 10 more starts with a 4.96 ERA to Pivetta’s 5.74 ERA rotation-wise. But even though management stated it’s a two-man competition, Suarez could be a third wheel.

In today’s baseball with top-dollar contracts, organizations balance those expenditures with youngsters making at or near the MLB minimum. Ergo, pitchers advance more quickly and must continue their development on the job. Rule of thumb: They make an impact in or after their third year with a 30-start average per full season.

With a hand wave, the faithful can easily dismiss a player if stats are the only factor. But the team has invested time and money to develop him. To illustrate, Adam Haseley hit .266 as an injury-replacement rookie after only a handful of Triple-A contests. Yes, he’d be a fourth outfielder after four summers.