The good, the bad & the ugly: Patrolling the Phillies starting rotation

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Vince Velasquez

Vince Velasquez is the only pitcher to not record a decision this season in any game he has played in. There is a line of improvement for Velasquez however, which is that he is growing into pitching deeper into games. In the season, he has done a good job at keeping his ERA low, but doesn’t seem like he has the offensive output when he is on the mound specifically.

It’s the old Cole Hamels curse in some ways, pitching low scoring games but not getting a decision. In his last two starts, he pitched five innings against the Washington Nationals and six innings against the Miami Marlins. In those two starts, he has combined to only allow six hits and three earned runs.

There is no doubt that if he can keep the quality control on board, winning decisions will come his way. In the idea that the Philadelphia Phillies do attempt to sign a left-handed pitcher, however, I would recall Velasquez to the Phillies bullpen because I think he is a reliable hand to close games for the win. There have been some rumors about the Phillies eyeing a trade for Madison Bumgarner. If that were to happen, I think Velasquez to relieve or close in a pitching role is best for business.

Zach Eflin

Just before Zach Eflin’s last start against the Miami Marlins, we saw flashes of a potential breakout season. He pitched five innings against the Washington Nationals to kick off his 2019 campaign, allowing three hits, no runs, and striking out nine. He followed that game up pitching deeper against the Minnesota Twins for seven innings, allowing six hits and one earned run.

After his 2-0 start, the rough outing against the Marlins ended in four innings with ten hits allowed and six runs. Eflin belongs in the starting rotation, but he should be the fifth in rotation. I look forward to watching how his season unfolds because he is absolutely young depth withing starting pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies and could have a bountiful career. If there is a pitcher, however, where someone could argue that Vince Velasquez should stay in the rotation if the Phillies were to trade for Madison Bumgarner, I think that Eflin wouldn’t be a bad decision to take a role in the bullpen either. However, the stat to look at is innings pitched, to which I think Eflin is going to hold that advantage over Velasquez.

Jake Arrieta

In the offseason leading up to opening day, there were a lot of reports about how Jake Arrieta was in better condition to rebound from his 2018 campaign. When I saw this, I was very excited because I originally perked up when Arrieta was signed to the Philadelphia Phillies to supplement the starting pitching rotation after his run with the Chicago Cubs. In this season, Arrieta has been an iron man of sorts, pitching no less than six innings in a game and as much as eight innings in a win against the New York Mets on April 16th, 2019. With as much depth as Arrieta is pushing for in each game, his ERA stands at a 2.25, which is good enough to earn a 3-1 record so far in 2019.

This is the pitcher who should be second in the starting rotation, but I do understand why he is third in this current rotation. Spreading the wealth around the starting rotation can go a long way, so if Aaron Nola can find his form from last season alongside this 2019 Arrieta, I think the Phillies can begin to believe that they have two aces. Pitching goes a long way to winning championships. Nola and Arrieta finding form with JT Realmuto on the receiving end is very important to achieve that goal.

As of this moment, my starting rotation based on performance this season would read Jake Arrieta, Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, and Zach Eflin. That is absolutely open for editing and debate, but I’m mostly hoping that Nola can get back into form with the upgrade of a catcher he now has. Until then, Arrieta has performed better.

It will be interesting to see what the Philadelphia Phillies do with the rumor of trading for Madison Bumgarner looming overhead, but at the end of the day, I think the starting pitching rotation has a larger upside, especially with the return of a healthy Eickhoff.

Also, on an unrelated note to this article, please, go and sign Craig Kimbrel to a three year, forty-five million dollar contract. That is allegedly what he is putting out there as a fair offer and I agree. Bolstering the bullpen with one specific pitcher such as Kimbrel would do wonders for the long term in the “Hunt for October.”

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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