Phillies Minor Leaguer Can Solve 5th Starter Problem

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 19: Philadelphia Phillies batting helmets sit on the wall during the MLB game between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies on September 19, 2018, at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The starting rotation for the Philadelphia Phillies has been less than ideal to start the season.

Inconsistency from Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Taijuan Walker, and Ranger Suarez has put the Phillies in a tight spot just two months into the season. Bailey Falter was underperforming, so he was sent back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. This move has left the Phillies without a 5th starter in the rotation.

You could argue that the starting rotation was the backbone and biggest strength of last year’s NL Championship squad. So to see the rotation take a major step back has been a disappointing realization just 49 games into the 2023 season.

Don’t Stop Believing Yet, Phillies Fans

While there have been hot and cold streaks for the starting cast, there is still hope for the unit to find its stride.

Nola and Wheeler have proven track records that show they should return to form. Taijuan Walker is adjusting to a new team and working with a new pitch mix dynamic. Ranger Suarez is just getting his legs back, as he missed the start of the season.

There is a solid body of work that shows what each of those four starters can do. I think they will kick it into gear, but hoping for it to change for the better doesn’t mean it will.

While the top four guys in the rotation have work to do, Dave Dombrowski has work in finding a 5th starter.

Dylan Covey (pronounced Co-Vee, not Cuv-vey) made a nice impression in his first outing as a Phillie.

The wavier pickup from the Dodgers went five innings, allowing five hits, one earned run and struck out six batters in a no-decision.

A New Hope

While Dylan Covey might occupy the 5th spot for the time being, I think that his replacement is in the works.

Minor league prospect Griff McGarry, the Phillies’ #3 prospect, has recently returned from the Injured List.

Phillies Zack Wheeler
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler throws the ball to a Washington Nationals player during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

In his three starts in Reading, McGarry has a 1.04 earned run average, in 8.2 innings, across three games. Griff has ten strikeouts but also four walks. The command has been an issue for him in his career. It has been the only thing holding him back from truly being dominant.

Griff McGarry has shutdown starter arm talent, and the Phillies could use that right about now. It certainly cannot get any worse than it has this season, and giving a young prospect a chance to come up and prove himself could prove to be the best move the team can make.

As Griff continues to build up his arm, he will be closely monitored. If Dylan Covey is not the answer as the 5th starter, or if the Phillies want him to be an innings eater out of the bullpen, I would not be shocked to see McGarry called to the main roster.

For now, his starts will be something you should tune in to see. Mick Abel and Griff McGarry will certainly be entertaining for fans who enjoy watching prospects.

McGarry can be the answer for the Phillies this season, but he has to put in the work before he gets his call to the show.