The Philadelphia Phillies are entering the 2022 MLB season with some serious momentum. They added two of the biggest bats on the market in Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos, a new closer in Corey Knebel, and they’ve been getting encouraging spring performances from top prospect Bryson Stott.
However, if 2022 is going to be the year the Phillies finally end their crippling postseason drought, their starting rotation needs to step up in a big way. The team’s bullpen is still questionable even with the addition of Knebel — deep outings from the rotation need to be consistent.
With all that in mind, here’s a look at how the Phillies starting staff should shake out this season.
*Disclaimer: Due to injuries, this won’t be how the Phillies’ rotational schedule starts the season. Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin, and Kyle Gibson are expected to pitch the opening series*
The Phillies have a strong one-two punch in Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola
The Phillies are looking strong at the top of the rotation. There’s little to debate there. Right-hander Zack Wheeler was the second-best pitcher in the National League last season. He led the MLB in innings pitched, complete games, and shutouts. He also led the NL in strikeouts.
If it weren’t for Corbin Burnes and his stellar season, Wheeler would’ve comfortably secured his first career Cy Young. As long as Wheeler’s shoulder holds up (he was battling soreness this offseason), he should be due for another fantastic season as the Phillies’ Ace.
At the No. 2 spot in the rotation is Aaron Nola. The former Phillies’ ace is coming off a frustrating 2021 campaign where he posted a 4.63 ERA. However, several of his peripherals painted the picture of him being better than his base ERA would suggest. He ranked top 12 in fWAR and xERA, according to FanGraphs.
That’s a valuable arm to have at the top of your rotation.
Zach Eflin and Ranger Suarez have the potential to be plus middle-of-the-rotation arms
They’re not household names by any stretch of the imagination. However, Zach Eflin and Ranger Suarez both have the potential to be plus arms in the middle of the Phillies’ rotation this season.
Eflin has been on the cusp of breaking out for several seasons now. As long as he can stay healthy, he may put together an entire season of low-3.00 ERA baseball. He recorded an ERA+ of 108, 114, and 100 in the past three seasons. He’s an above-average starter.
Suarez is the ultimate dark horse for the Phillies. After battling for a bullpen spot between 2018 and 2020, the southpaw exploded onto the scene as a critical starter for Philadelphia in 2021. He finished the year with a 1.51 ERA across 12 starts. He also tossed a complete-game shutout.
As long as his body can survive the trials and tribulations of being a full-time starter, he should be another plus arm for Philly.
The Phillies need Kyle Gibson to bounce back
The biggest rotational issue the Phillies are facing right now is a lack of depth, which means they need Kyle Gibson to bounce back. They simply don’t have anyone in the minors capable of replacing him should he repeat his 2021 second half.
An All-Star with the Texas Rangers last year, Gibson greatly struggled upon joining Philadelphia at the trade deadline. He needs to be better throughout an entire 2022 campaign for that trade to have been worth it.
Ultimately speaking, as long as everyone stays healthy, the Phillies’ starting rotation should be a strength this season. Between that and their new-and-improved offense, the vibes are good in Philly these days.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.