MLB Free Agency: 3 Starting Pitchers the Phillies should target

MLB: MAY 21 Pirates at Braves
ATLANTA, GA – MAY 21: Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Tyler Anderson (31) during the MLB game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves on May 21, 2021, at Truist Park in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by John Adams/Icon Sportswire)

My brother once said that Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” I wish Ford were an MLB owner.

And although it’s never been more expensive to buy a car, we continue waiting for the Philadelphia Phillies 2022 Spring Training.

Ultimately, Clearwater is the real loser, day after day (except this guy).

So while the MLB stalemate continues, I’m back with another ‘Season of Streamers’ look at the free-agent marketplace for a 5th starting pitcher for Philadelphia’s rotation.

Pitch, Please

The 2021 Phillies ultimately had to find help at the Trade Deadline with Kyle Gibson, so let’s get ahead of the problem this year. Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and Gibson will return, leaving several questions marks.

If you believe in the longevity of names like Zach Eflin and Ranger Suárez, the Phillies theoretically have the pieces in place. However, with the departure of Héctor Neris, one or both of those names might do more in the bullpen, and Nola’s no guarantee either.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – JULY 24: Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola (27) delivers a pitch during the fifth inning of the game between the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies on July 24, 2020 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

Of Nola’s nine victories in 2021, five came in games when he either lasted less than six innings or gave up more than three runs. He’ll need quite the bounce-back campaign to regain the trust of manager Joe Girardi, and fans whose confidence wavered duing an inconsistent season.

Right now, the Phillies need bodies to compete, and it’s unlikely that we see significant money invested in the starting pitching market. We’re talking cheap with upside so let us begin.

Tyler Anderson (2021 WAR – 1.6)

2022 Prediction – Dr. Who on HBOMax – let’s just recast the doctor and finally bring in our Rose, Tyler.

This name should sound familiar.

Well, it didn’t work then, but Anderson’s a free agent, and the organization has already shown relative interest in the lefty.

He’s not much of a strikeout pitcher, just over 20% over his career, but he makes the opposing team put the ball on the ground around 39% of the time. That’s still less than the league average of 43.3%, but we need to classify these guys somehow.

Basically, he doesn’t do anything spectacularly well, but he can float around a 4.50 ERA, and that still might be better than some in-house options.

Cole Hamels (2021 WAR – N/A)

2022 Prediction – Bel-Air on Peacock – a reboot we all think we want, but it’ll never be the same as the heart-warming original.

I can’t help myself. Rumors of Hamels rejoining the Phillies haven’t ended since he left. So let’s run it back.

Hamels hasn’t thrown a pitch since a 2020 campaign that lasted just 3.1 innings, so his ability to return and make an impact is a mystery, but man, this would make a lot of people very, very happy.

Hamels should retire as a Phil, so let’s make it happen.

José Ureña (2021 WAR – -0.6)

2022 Prediction – Inventing Anna on Netflix – I’ve watched so much, but I still can’t decide if I like it.

I always liked him on the Marlins, but I think it was for the wrong reasons. Still, I always thought he had swagger on the hill.

Things didn’t quite work out for Ureña in Miami or Detriot, but he’s a 30-year-old likely looking at his last opportunity to stick in the Majors. He’s led the league twice in HBP, so if he can improve his control, I believe he’s worth a look.

His 5.81 ERA in 2021 doesn’t inspire confidence, but you could probably get him into Spring Training for under $2MM. Worth a flier for someone with his ‘stuff.’

Photo by John Adams/Icon Sportswire