Expectations are high in Philly this summer; there’s no way around that the reality. Thanks to Dave Dombrowski, the Philadelphia Phillies finally shattered past the luxury tax, signing two of the biggest bats on the market in Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos. They also added a new closer in Corey Knebel, and some bullpen depth in Brad Hand and Juerys Familia.
After a stellar Spring Training from nearly everyone involved in the Phillies organization, fans are itching for a season that concludes with postseason baseball. It’s been over a decade since Philly experienced “Red October.”
The offense is set; can the pitching keep up?
The Phillies’ offense is going to be good this year. Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of how they’ve thrown defense to the wind to add big bats, this team will still absolutely rake.
They have four players on the roster with 30-plus home run ability (Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, Castellanos, and Schwarber), one of the best catchers in the sport in J.T. Realmuto, and they’re finally starting to see some of their prospects slide into regular roles.
Getting productive seasons out of Bryson Stott, Mickey Moniak, Alec Bohm, or Matt Vierling makes the Phillies’ lineup that much more lethal.
With all of that said, things aren’t certain on the pitching side of the equation … unless you’re FanGraphs.
FanGraphs believes the Phillies have the third-best rotation in the MLB
The Phillies’ five-man rotation is set in stone heading into Opening Day. In fact, they’re one of the few teams in the sport these days who can say they roster five legitimate starting pitchers. Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, Zach Eflin, and Kyle Gibson. That’s five guys who can all go six-to-seven innings on any given start.
Phillies fans have their own respective questions about the rotation. However, most of the outside opinions on the Phillies’ starting staff are overwhelmingly positive. FanGraphs ranked them as the third-best rotation in baseball heading into Opening Day.
Nola and Wheeler are both at the top of their game, and anchor a Phillies rotation with some questions to answer despite their lofty ranking. The main one? Can Gibson, Eflin, and Suárez survive with middling strikeout rates in front of this Philadelphia defense? … We still think they’re the [third]-best rotation in baseball – starting with Nola and Wheeler provides a huge tailwind – but there’s plenty of risk here.Ben Clemens, FanGraphs
Why the Phillies’ starting staff has top-3 potential
As Ben Clemens mentions in the above-pinned blurb on the Phillies, some important questions still need answering.
Zach Eflin is coming off an injury. This is Ranger Suarez’s first full season as a starter. Kyle Gibson struggles with a bad defense behind him. However, these questions don’t negate the Phillies’ rotation’s extreme upside. When at their best, Wheeler and Nola are both legitimate Cy Young candidates, and Suarez/Elfin/Gibson would all be solid number twos on half the teams in the MLB.
Sure, this isn’t a perfect starting rotation. However, no such thing exists. Look around baseball; all the top teams in the sport have just as many question marks in their rotation — if not more. The New York Mets, for example, couldn’t even make it out of Spring Training without losing two of their top arms.
This Phillies rotation has to prove to everyone they’re legit this season. But if they collectively manage to stay healthy and perform to their best ability, it’s not impossible to imagine them finishing the year as a top-three rotation in baseball.