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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Eflin will probably be the breakout starter for the 2020 Phillies. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. /

One through four:       

When the Phillies campaign begins, four of the five-man staff are locks, barring unforeseen events. Yes, Eflin will follow Arrieta, Wheeler and Nola. But circumstances beyond control could affect the 26-man roster depending on the timing. Question mark!

With above-average control of his four-pitch arsenal, Nola’s ERA will probably be somewhere between 2018’s 2.37 ERA and 2019’s 3.87 ERA for a 3.12 ERA. And he could benefit from a delayed Opening Day because two of his clunkers were in April.

Phillies rotational arsenal:

  • Nola’s four-seam fastball: 1136 for 34.1 percent
    with a 93.4-mph average and a 96.8-mph high.
    Curve: 1173 for 35.2 percent.
    Changeup: 618 for 18.6 percent.
    Sinker: 403 for 12.1 percent.
  • Wheeler’s four-seam fastball: 1864 for 59.1 percent
    with a 97-mph average and a 100.9-mph high.
    Slider: 630 for 20 percent.
    Curve: 313 for 9.9 percent.
    Changeup: 287 for 9.1 percent.
    Splitter: 61 for 1.9 percent.

Phillies rotational results toward 75-80 percent: 

  • Nola, 26.5: 18 good, 8 so-so and 8 bad out of 34 starts for 76.5%
  • Wheeler, 29.5: 19 good, 5 so-so and 7 bad out of 31 starts for 77.4%

In the first year with a new club, many players excel, and baseball men feel Wheeler is ready to reach the next plateau. Translation: Franchises were bidding heavily for his services, but the Phils are the closest to his wife’s native New Jersey. And his statistics were 2018’s 3.31 ERA and 2019’s 3.96 ERA for a 3.64 ERA midpoint.

According to national publications, Arrieta’s recent numbers are league average. Ergo, he’s a three-slot arm despite his injuries. But if he can stay healthy, he may have his best summer in Philly especially with an abbreviated season. Note: He left his last outing with a slightly stiff shoulder only as a precautionary measure.

Phillies rotational arsenal:

  • Arrieta’s sinker: 1200 for 54.8 percent
    with a 92.8-mph average and a 96.4-mph high.
    Changeup: 401 for 18.3 percent.
    Curve: 293 for 13.4 percent.
    Slider: 266 for 12.1 percent.
    Four-seam fastball: 32 for 1.5 percent.
  • Eflin’s four-seam fastball: 854 for 33.6 percent
    with a 94.2-mph average and a 96.7-mph high.
    Slider: 789 for 31 percent.
    Sinker: 572 for 22.5 percent.
    Changeup: 202 for 7.9 percent.
    Curve: 139 for 5.5 percent.

Phillies rotational results toward 75-80 percent: 

  • Arrieta, 34: 13 good, 2 so-so and 9 bad out of 24 starts for 62.5%
  • Eflin, almost 26: 16 good, 0 so-so and 12 bad out of 28 starts for 57.1%

A hurler has a guaranteed spot when he works on one pitch even if it gets hit. To illustrate, Eflin allowed three earned runs with one first-inning slider after another. So, this is the offering needing improvement, and spring training is the place for it.

Excluding his four-game debacle regarding a high four-seam fastball due to a rookie analytics-oriented coach, Eflin had 16 excellent performances and eight clunkers. Translation: if his slider wasn’t working, hitters crushed it and/or sat on his fastball. Apparently, the answer is an effective slider, not high smoke (intentional).