The Phillies are strangely deep when it comes to pitching. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a far cry from the Four Aces that the Phillies had back in 2010-2011, but there is some serious talent in the big leagues and the farm system.
The current starting rotation is pitching pretty well. Aaron Nola could find himself in Cy Young contention, Nick Pivetta has good stuff [and is one of this season’s biggest surprises in my opinion], Vince Velasquez is starting to find more consistency, Jake Arrieta is a top of the rotation arm and Zach Eflin continues to impress.
Much like the position players, the Phillies have a lot of pitching talent but not a lot of space. In the outfield, they have Odubel Herrera, Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr. In the infield, there’s Carlos Santana, Cesar Hernandez, Scott Kingery, JP Crawford and Maikel Franco. One of those outfielders and infielders each won’t play every day when a case could be made for everyone to start.
When it comes to pitching the, five starters in the rotation currently have hold of those positions for the foreseeable future. Jerad Eickhoff, who hasn’t played yet this season due to injuries and numbness in his fingers, once looked like a promising piece of the rotation.
Jerad Eickhoff experienced numbness in fingertips on pitching hand Sunday. Clock has been stopped on his rehab. He is being evaluated
— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) May 21, 2018
If and when Eickhoff returns, he deserves a chance to prove that he can contribute in this rotation. The question is, who would he replace? In my opinion, there are only two pitchers that are untouchable (barring injury) to pull in favor of Eickhoff: Nola and Arrieta. Depending on the day, a case could be made for any of the other three to either move to the bullpen or be sent down to Triple-A. Take, for example, Velasquez’s last start where he allowed 10 runs in 3.2 innings. Times like those make you want to see him in the bullpen. If he’s going to keep going down that path he’ll find his way to the bullpen, but if he turns it around and consistently throws 6+ innings of two-run baseball, how do you justify moving him out of the rotation?
Not to throw a wrench into an already crowded room, but there’s another big league ready pitcher knocking down the door at Lehigh Valley: Enyel De Los Santos. De Los Santos came to Philly in the Freddy Galvis trade back in December and he’s been tearing up the minor leagues ever since. The 22-year old righty has a 6-3 record with a 1.63 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. He’s been pitching so well that he should be on the big league team, the problem is that the pitching room is so crowded.
The old adage is that you can never have too much starting pitching. There are six able-bodied starting quality pitchers in the Phillies’ system, seven if you include the one on the disabled list. I would love to see De Los Santos make his Major League debut sooner than later, but the way the starting five have been performing it’s tough to make a change. Keep an eye on De Los Santos in the coming weeks.
One of the things that will be interesting in the next month or so is watching the front office and how they attack the trade deadline. They have a stacked farm system and have money to spend. If the Phillies can keep pace in the NL East, look for them to make moves. They need offense and reinforcements in the bullpen, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Phillies are very active at the deadline.