PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have said that when the time is right, they believe they can find the bats they need to solidify their lineup. They just want to make sure they have enough quality arms in the rotation to make those efforts worth their while.Do they?Two months into the
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have said that when the time is right, they believe they can find the bats they need to solidify their lineup. They just want to make sure they have enough quality arms in the rotation to make those efforts worth their while.
Two months into the 2017 season, the Phillies' starting pitching has been a disappointment. The rotation entered Friday night's series opener against the Giants with a 5.33 ERA, which ranked 29th in baseball. That includes struggles from young pitchers Jerad Eickhoff (5.13 ERA in 11 starts), Aaron Nola (5.06 ERA in six starts), Nick Pivetta (5.12 ERA in four starts), Vince Velasquez (5.58 ERA in 10 starts) and Zach Eflin (6.13 ERA in eight starts).
Ben Lively is set to make his Major League debut Saturday. He has pitched well at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, posting a 2.40 ERA in nine starts. Conversely, Triple-A prospects Jake Thompson (5.82 ERA in nine starts) and Mark Appel (6.75 ERA in 10 starts) have struggled. Tom Eshelman (1.40 ERA in five starts) has pitched well since his promotion from Double-A Reading.
"This is sort of how I cope, but I've done a lot of research looking at other successful rebuilds and what those teams went through in the process of getting to where they are now," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Friday. "And what you find is those rosters, a year before, two years before, three years before those teams reach the playoffs, those rosters were littered with players who were a year or two into their Major League careers that were going through the same types of growing pains that are young players are going through. This is very common.
"If a year from now we've seen no progress from a bunch of them, then it might be time to reevaluate, and there might be a time to acknowledge some concern, but right now this is something young teams go through. This is something rebuilding teams go through."
So, yes, Klentak still likes the organization's starting pitching depth.
"We know going in, broadly, to a rebuild and even more narrowly coming into a season that some starting pitchers are going to get hurt, struggle, may end up shifting to the bullpen," Klentak said. "That's why we try to gather as many starting pitchers as we can year after year in the Draft, through trades, through whatever vehicle we have. We know that's going to happen."
The Phillies lost Velasquez this week to a strained flexor in his right elbow. An MRI exam Thursday revealed it is a Grade 1 strain, which is the least severe.
"Hopefully in a couple of weeks, we'll get him back up throwing and he won't be out too long," Klentak said.
• The Phillies activated outfielder Daniel Nava from the 10-day disabled list (strained left hamstring). They optioned right-hander Ricardo Pinto to Triple-A.
• Philly named Triple-A outfielder Dylan Cozens and Double-A second baseman Scott Kingery its Minor League co-hitters of the month. It also named Eshelman its pitcher of the month and Class A Advanced Clearwater outfielder Zach Coppola its defender of the month.
• Sonny Hill, 80, threw out the ceremonial first pitch as part of the Phillies' African American Heritage Celebration. Hill has run community outreach programs in the city for decades.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.