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Mackanin: Phils need reliable starter for 2018

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Pete Mackanin made a concerted effort late last season -- and even late into the offseason -- to say the Phillies needed to add at least a couple hitters to their 2017 lineup.

He has not said that this season.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Pete Mackanin made a concerted effort late last season -- and even late into the offseason -- to say the Phillies needed to add at least a couple hitters to their 2017 lineup.

He has not said that this season.

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There are two reasons for that. First, the Phillies have enough talented position players that they likely will get another opportunity to prove themselves next season. Second, the Phillies could really use one or two established veterans to help the rotation. Only Aaron Nola is a lock to make next season's rotation with Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Jake Thompson, Mark Leiter, Tom Eshelman and possibly others fighting for jobs.

"Managers always want more," Mackanin said before Wednesday night's game against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. "I want more hitters [and] more pitchers. I think it would behoove us to get a bona fide starting pitcher. We've had a lot of guys who have shown some good signs -- Lively, and even Thompson's coming around a little bit. Pivetta certainly. But to move forward, I think we need a stabilizer at the top."

The Phillies have plenty of money to spend, if they choose. They have only one player signed for next season -- Odubel Herrera, who will make $3 million.

It might not make sense for the Phillies to pursue top free-agent starters like Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta. That duo will seek lucrative multi-year contracts, and their best seasons likely will come early in any deal. The Phillies likely won't be ready to compete for the postseason until 2019, at the earliest, wasting the pitchers' best seasons before the team is ready to win.

The Phillies could try to acquire another rental or two, like they have in recent winters, or they could pursue somebody like Rays right-hander Alex Cobb, Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn or Padres right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, each of whom will be free agents. They won't cost "ace" money, but they should be more reliable than a pitcher coming off an injury or a down year.

"I'd like to move forward and enhance the team," Mackanin said. "How, I'm not so sure. I haven't talked hardly at all to [general manager] Matt [Klentak] about what his plans are, so I can't speak for him. But I think it's important that we take a step forward next year. It's always good that you have that guy that you can look up to, that you can count on. It takes pressure off the rest of the guys."

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.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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