PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies' actions before Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline proved that their faith in Nick Pivetta and the rest of the rotation remains unbowed.Pivetta will make his 22nd start of the season Thursday night against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. He had been one of the Phillies' most
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies' actions before Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline proved that their faith in Nick Pivetta and the rest of the rotation remains unbowed.
Pivetta will make his 22nd start of the season Thursday night against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. He had been one of the Phillies' most encouraging developments through May. But after he went 4-3 with a 3.26 ERA in his first 11 starts, he is 1-6 with a 6.84 ERA in his last 10.
But the Phillies didn't add to the rotation at the Deadline, even with starters like Chris Archer, Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ on the move, because they trust the numbers and believe in Pivetta's stuff. They instead acquired infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, catcher Wilson Ramos and left-hander Aaron Loup. If they make more moves before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline, it figures to be a bench player or another bullpen arm.
"It's not just comfort," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Tuesday. "We are really excited about our starting pitching. No matter how you measure it, our starting five have been among the better starting fives in all of baseball this year. I recognize that that's not every single night, but the total body of work puts us at or near the top."
The Phillies' rotation has a 3.81 ERA, which ranks eighth in baseball. It is seventh in WHIP (1.22) and seventh in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.25). It averages 0.98 home runs per nine innings, which is the third-best mark in baseball.
Those are some of the more traditional stats.
The Phillies look at other numbers, too. The rotation is third in MLB in WAR (12.2), according to FanGraphs. It is fifth in xFIP (3.76).
The Phillies simply believe Pivetta will turn things around. He has struck out 67 and walked 18 in 49 2/3 innings in this current 10-start stretch. Those are like his early-season numbers, when he struck out 67 and walked 14 in 58 innings.
The biggest difference? Pivetta has allowed 11 home runs in his past 10 starts. He allowed five in his first 11.
"I think there is some chance involved," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said last weekend. "First you have to hang a pitch or throw a very hittable pitch. And then the batter has to throw a swing on it where he squares it up. And then it's got to go in the air rather than on the ground, so there's some chance involved in it. I'm not saying that's all there is, but he certainly has the capability to make better pitches and locate his balls better. And that's probably the No. 1 most important factor."
And that is why the Phillies never seriously pursued Archer, Hamels or Happ. They could have bumped Pivetta to the bullpen for the stretch drive. Teams have bumped promising young starters, even established ones (remember Pedro Martinez bumping Jamie Moyer to the 'pen in 2009?), before. But not these Phillies.
They will move forward with what they have, believing they have enough depth in Triple-A to cover them.
"You've heard me say it before and I'm happy to repeat it: If you can stay out of the trade market for starting pitching at the Trade Deadline, you should do that, because it tends to be very expensive," Klentak said.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.