The Phillies Spring Training Battle for the 5th Starter
THIS. IS. MARCH.
Although you might not have noticed since an abysmal 10 Spring Training Games are Televised – Phillies Spring Training is in full swing down in Clearwater.
I previously highlighted what to expect coming out of Spring Training. And not to brag, I was pretty spot on. We’re now roughly a month away from Opening Day and it’s decision making time for Girardi and the Phillies about who will be locked in as the 5 starting pitchers this season.
Here’s where we currently stand:
- Aaron Nola
- Zach Wheeler
- Jake Arrieta
- Zach Eflin
- Pivetta, Velasquez, Suarez (in that order)
Eflin is assumed to have the 4th arm locked down – but does he really? Last night against the Braves, Eflin got beat up again – only lasting 1.2 innings, giving up 3 hits, 3 walks, and 3 earned runs. Another sketchy outing for #4 – who is holding a very unimpressive 7.36 ERA in a few appearances down in Clearwater.
I’ve been pretty adamant on my desire to have Nick Pivetta no where near the Phillies starting rotation. Kevin DiPasquale of The Misery Report stated “Nick Pivetta should be signing autographs at a Tim Hortons in Canada come April”. I couldn’t agree more.
According to Matt Gelb Eflin was trying to work his slider tonight – but he just didn’t have it. So I get a rough outing or two – especially in Spring Training and against NL East rivals.
Velasquez was also on the mound tonight and pitched well according to the box score. You never know cause there aren’t any games on TV. Looks like Vinny got hit hard but didn’t let up much damage – throwing 3 innings, 4 hits, 1 earned run, and 2 strikeouts. I’ve always been a fan of Velasquez – I’m just not sure if he has enough pitches to be a starter in this league.
Ranger Suarez had some solid outings this Spring Training – but to date, nothing to move him ahead of the pack into a starting pitching role. I do expect him to be an important piece in relief to start the season.
Then of course, we have highly touted Spencer Howard. Howard checks in at #88 on the MLB Top Prospects List this year. (Alec Bohm – 34 & 89 – Bryson Stott). No doubt he will be brought up – especially if the Velasquez, Pivetta, Suarez experiment fails (again) this year and we need some help – this is only a matter of time.
It pains me to say this – but if Opening Day was tomorrow. It does look like Pivetta is going to get the 5th spot in the rotation, with Suarez and Velasquez going to the bullpen and Howard starting the year off in AAA.
Both Eflin and Pivetta should keep their heads on a swivel. I don’t have the confidence in either of them at the back of our rotation and wouldn’t hate seeing Howard and even Damon Jones in the mix for spots if the ones currently occupying them can’t hold them.
Other Pitching Notes:
Seranthony Dominguez is up throwing again. Some virtual simulation games for Seranthony have him throwing the ball around 94 mph. Last year – he was up around 96, but it’s good to see him active and getting some arm strength back as we get closer to Opening Day.