Phillies 6-Man Rotation and the Importance of Pitching


As the 2015 season begins to wind down, Phillies management seems ready to give some rest to the promising young pitchers who currently make up a large portion of the Phillies starting rotation. The club has decided to move to a 6-man rotation for the balance of this season.

The most notable name on the list is Aaron Nola, the club’s top pick in the 2014 MLB Amateur Daft. Nola has had an impressive showing since being called up to the Majors. He is currently sporting an ERA of 3.56, and has emerged as a calm and confident force to be reckoned with on the mound.

Nola is currently around the 160 innings pitched mark for the year between stints in the minors and with the Phillies. The club plans to cap him at around 180-185 innings before the end of the season.

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In order to accomplish this, Phillies fans will continue to see Aaron Harang, Alec Asher, Jerad Eickhoff, and Adam Morgan, in addition to Nola, in the rotation.

They can also spot start David Buchanan, Jerome Williams, or Severino Gonzalez. This move not only helps to rest Nola, but also the other young arms.

Morgan has shown promise after being plagued by injuries the last couple of seasons. Eickhoff and Asher, each acquired in the Cole Hamels trade from the Rangers, have had mixed results. Eickhoff has mostly been successful to this point, while Asher has struggled mightily.

Aug 23, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Nola (27) throws against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsThose three pitchers aren’t considered on the same talent level as Nola, but all of them have flashed potential as possible longterm mid- to back-of-rotation starters. A surplus of arms is always a good thing to have, and one needs to look no further than the first place New York Mets to understand the importance of the development of good, in-house pitching to help build a contending team.

At the start of the 2015 season, most experts predicted that the Washington Nationals would win the NL East with ease. Much of that speculation was based on the strength of their dominant pitching rotation led by Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer, as well as the powerful bats of players such as Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman.

Despite the early predictions, and thanks in large part to New York’s own rotation of young power pitchers, the Nats are currently looking up at the Mets from second place.

Last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, Jacob DeGrom, has continued his dominance in 2015 with an ERA of 2.40 and 187 K’s in 176 IP. Next up is rookie Noah Syndergaard, who has an ERA of 3.31 in 122 IP with 129 strike outs. Flame throwing Matt Harvey is also having a dominating year with a 2.88ERA, but he is scheduled to make only two more regular season starts in order to rest him for the playoff run and keep his innings limited.

According to the Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Harvey is currently at around 166 innings and will be shut down at 180 IP in the regular season. Fortunately for the Mets, they can fill in the rotation hole with veterans Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon, and another one of their young pitching phenoms, Steve Matz, who has recently returned from a stint on the DL.

The Mets are poised to make a post season run fueled by the strength and depth of their pitching staff and could be the sleeper pick to win it all in 2015, similar to the 2010 Giants. That year many believed that the Phillies rotation headed by Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels were unbeatable, but they were taken down by the power arms of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner in the NLCS.

It looks like the Phillies are poised to have a top five pick in the 2016 draft, possibly the #1 overall selection, and it would shock no one if they selected a power arm in hopes that pitcher could eventually join Nola to make up a formidable 1-2 punch in their own run to the playoffs in the next few years. As the surprise success of the 2015 Mets has shown, there is no such thing as too much good pitching.

Next: Phillies and the Draft: What Could Have Been