Will the Phillies use a 4-Man Rotation in June?
The Phillies have the day off today before opening a weekend series against the Washington Nationals tomorrow night at Citizens Bank Park. They have yet to announce their pitching plans for the weekend. After the rainout on Wednesday against the Reds, they could go back to Spencer Howard on Friday night, followed by Wheeler and Eflin on Saturday and Sunday.
That could change if the Phillies opt to keep Wheeler and Eflin going six days between starts. If Wheeler and Eflin pitched the first two games of the series, that would leave either Vincent Velasquez or Aaron Nola to pitch the final game against the Nationals on Sunday.
With six days off this month, not including Wednesday’s afternoon rainout, the Phillies could option to keep Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin busy in the month of June. The team could go with a four-man rotation on occasion and optimize the usage of its top three pitchers.
If scheduled correctly, the Phillies could use their 1-2-3 in 18 of 24 games in the month of June, the majority of time on regular rest. Vincent Velasquez and Spencer Howard could then piggyback each other in the fourth spot of the rotation with Ranger Suarez readily available to damage control as needed.
Aaron Nola is 4-4 with a 3.84 ERA in 12 starts this season (70.1 IP). Since the beginning of 2018, Nola has made 91 starts which is the most in Major League Baseball. In his most recent start, he allowed three runs in five innings to snap a four-start winless streak. He is the only Phillies pitcher that has pitched more than 200 innings in a season.
After the game on Tuesday, Nola had yet to be notified if he would be pitching on regular rest Sunday or on an extra two days rest against the Braves on Tuesday night.
Zack Wheeler got close in 2018 throwing 182 1/3. Wheeler has been dominant this season for the Phillies and is 4-2 with a 2.52 ERA over 75 innings pitched this year.
Zach Eflin’s career high is 163 1/3 innings in 2019. On the season, he is 2-5 with a 4.10 ERA over 68 innings of work. Although his record may not show it, Eflin has been solid this season outside a few rough outings while the Phillies were in a major slump.
From there, the Phillies have Vincent Velasquez and Spencer Howard. Up until his last start, Velasquez answered the call for the Phillies as the fourth man in their rotation. Before a bad start against the Reds, Vinny was 2-0 on the season with a 2.95 ERA in 10 games, six of which were starts for the Phillies. He threw 36.2 innings and struck out 45 batters with a 1.28 WHIP.
In his last start, Spencer Howard retired 12 of the first 14 batters he faced and breezed through four scoreless innings before hitting a wall in the fifth. He threw 36 of his 51 pitches for strikes through four innings, striking out four and only walking one. A strict pitch count and velocity concerns keep Howard from pitching deep into games. Ranger Suarez has been the first option out of the pen protecting Howard.
The Phillies now enter a stretch in June in which they will play 14 games within the NL East and head West for a six-game road trip to face both the Dodgers and the Giants. San Francisco and Los Angeles are a combined 27 games over .500.
The month of June can very well make or break the Phillies season before we reach the month of July. Switching to a 4-man rotation could certainly help now, but could have negative impacts come September.
Mandatory Credit: MLB.com