2023 Season Preview: Who will be the Phillies’ 5th starter come opening day?

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Phillies Bailey Falter pitching
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Bailey Falter throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The wait is almost over, Phillies fans.

We are 20 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to camp and less than one month away from the first Spring Training game for the Philadelphia Phillies.

With pitchers and catchers reporting in a little under three weeks, the Phillies still have some questions that need to be answered in their camp this Spring. The biggest question for the team is, who will be the fifth starter?

Phillies top prospect, Andrew Painter

The buzz throughout Spring Training will surround top prospect, Andrew Painter.

Painter has been voted the top right-handed pitching prospect in baseball heading into 2023 and is the top prospect in the Phillies organization. Andrew has soared up the prospect rankings over the past year, and despite the fact he spent last season in AA, many are predicting he will be the Phillies’ fifth starter.

While Painter has been invited to Spring Training with a non-roster invitation, I do not expect him to make the Opening Day roster.

Dave Dombrowski has openly admitted that Andrew could make the team if he performs well. However, I think the Phillies will be more patient with their top guy. Letting Painter start the year in AAA instead of the big leagues would be an easier way to start the season. If he is lighting up the minors, it will make all the sense for the Phillies to call him up during the first couple of months of 2023.

If he doesn’t have a solid start to the year, then it’s no big deal. Letting him work through adversity and building his confidence in AAA will help the Phillies sooner rather than later.

Griff McGary

While Andrew Painter has been getting all the buzz, Griff McGarry is another name to watch for the fifth starter.

McGarry was promoted twice in 2022. He started the year in A+ and would end the season in AAA. Griff was primarily a starter in A+ and AA but moved to the bullpen with the Iron Pigs in an effort to limit his innings. Griff was a dynamic starter and reliever when he played his college ball at Virginia and could potentially fit either role for the club moving forward.

One of the reasons McGarry might get the call before Painter is age. Griff will be 23 years old heading into the season, while Andrew Painter will be 19. This gives the Phillies more time to see what they have with Andrew and gives Griff the edge regarding who would make the roster.

Either way, if the Phillies are going to promote the young right-hander to take the fifth spot in the rotation, he will have to earn it in Spring Training next month.

Bailey Falter

Bailey Falter is the most obvious choice for the Phillies’ fifth starter this season.

Falter is already on the 40-man roster; he has big-league experience and he performed well just last season. Bailey was huge for the Phillies when Zack Wheeler went down late in the season, and he became a stopper for the team when they needed it the most. Bailey should be favored to win the job coming out of Spring Training.

Pitching behind Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, and Taijuan Walker will take the pressure off of Bailey in 2023. He will be asked to come in and face the opposing lineup twice in his starts. The Phillies have built a competitive bullpen full of guys they can rely on to get big outs. Anything more than 5 innings out of Bailey is just a bonus for the Phillies, and with a good Spring Training, I would anticipate Rob Thomson will name him the fifth starter.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky