The Phillies need to discover their fifth starting pitcher

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Phillies Dylan Covey
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Dylan Covey is taken out of a baseball game in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves, Sunday, May 28, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The Phillies are never normal, and consecutive games at Truist Park over the weekend reiterated this frustrating state. Currently, they’re 25-28, three games back of .500 and it could’ve been much more in their series against the Atlanta Braves. If this feels familiar that’s because this is the position the 2022 Philadelphia Phillies found themselves at in May.

That is a lot to process, especially when most of the issues are offensively driven.  It’s on the players to straighten things out and get the Phillies back to the postseason. Right now, that’s a tall order.

The biggest issue to date is their starting rotation and its lack of strength. A glaring one is the fact that there isn’t a TRUE fifth starting pitcher. They have two aces: Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. Taijuan Walker pitched well in the Braves series. Wheeler and Walker earned their weekend wins.

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Dylan Covey delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Sunday, May 28, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Then there was waiver-wire acquisition Dylan Covey on Sunday. The Phillies are 1-9 in games where the fifth starter — first, Bailey Falter, and now Covey. He allowed five earned runs in 2/3 of an inning and now has a career 6.60 earned runs average.

The top four are better than they’ve shown though, and really, there’s not much more the Phillies can do other than wait for them to pitch to their potential. The rotation getting on track is a must and barring injuries, it’s got to happen sooner.

But addressing the number five spot needs to happen. Most teams have these issues at one point or the other during the season. But this requires a better answer than Covey. However, it’s not going to see the Phillies throwing themselves into the fire to find a solution.

Philadelphia has repeatedly been asked about Matt Strahm’s place in all of this. They won’t put him back into the rotation as a traditional starter unless they’re in dire straits. He’s spent time on the injured list in his past seven Major League Baseball seasons.

Down on the Phillies Farm

Looking down at their farm system, there aren’t a ton of options. Down at the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils, right-hander Griff McGarry hasn’t cracked 60 pitches yet as a starter. He missed the first month of the 2023 season with an oblique issue and isn’t back to full strength yet. Later in June, he could make an appearance.

Mick Abel has shown flashes of brilliance but that still comes with blips of inconsistent command. He needs time. One thing Philadelphia has a little bit of time to play with but not much.

Andrew Painter, the number one prospect coming into the season, could see play by August 1st if Phillies president of baseball operations David Dombrowski has his way. Still, he’s yet to throw a full bullpen session from the mound.

There’s is no reason for absolute panic just yet but if there are more nights like Sunday, time will become of the essence.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson