Phillies 2017 Season Preview: Starting Pitcher Jerad Eickhoff

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Sep 27, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Rain comes down as Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff (48) delivers a pitch in the fourth inning of their game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 27, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Rain comes down as Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff (48) delivers a pitch in the fourth inning of their game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /
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A look at how well the under-rated starter Jerad Eickhoff has actually been for the Phillies and how he can possibly improve.

Exactly how good has Jerad Eickhoff been since joining the Phillies?

Cole Hamels was considered an ace, a frontline, top of the rotation pitcher when he was traded to Texas and still is. Since that trade, which brought back not only Eickhoff but starting pitcher Jake Thompson, catcher Jorge Alfaro and outfielder Nick Williams, Eickhoff, who was at the time considered a throw in, has performed extremely commensurate to that traded away ace. In other words, the Phillies traded an expensive ace for what appears to be another pitcher performing like an ace – plus 4 other top-of-the-line prospects.

Last year Hamels started 32 games and pitched 200.2 innings and Eickhoff started 33 games and had 197.1 innings pitched, so comparing their output is easy. Hamels put up a 3.0 fWAR and Eickhoff managed a 2.9.

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Beyond that Eickhoff was slightly better in some categories, like base-on-balls per nine (1.92 compared to Hamels 3.45), BABIP (.278 to .299) and left-on-base percentage (76.4 to 79.1). Of course Hamels had the edge in some key areas. Strike outs, for instance, where Hamels struck out 200 batters to Jerad’s 167. But the similarity in both of their performances is there, shockingly so.

And now it’s time to start 2017.

Expect more of the same from Eickhoff this year. He’s an extremely durable pitcher who, as we’ve seen, is extremely under-rated. With a fairly deep starting rotation there’s no telling where exactly he’ll fit into the rotation but most likely he’ll start the year as the third or fourth starter.

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It’s doubtful Eickhoff will be any better than he currently is, which is already pretty good, but he could become a smarter pitcher, a la Roy Halladay, and really start to over-achieve.

Becoming a bit smarter of a pitcher will help Eickhoff finish off batters. As is, Jerad was the major league leader last year in hits given up with an 0-2 count with 19. He was in that 0-2 situation 95 times. Compare that with Cole Hamels who managed to get a batter to 0-2 146 times and only gave up 15 hits, four fewer hits. That’s 49 more batters faced and four fewer hits.

In Roy Halladay’s Cy Young Award winning season of 2010 he found himself ahead of the hitter at 0-2 260 times and only managed to give up 10 hits. That’s being a smart pitcher. That’s where Eichoff should strive to find himself.

Next: Phillies Keeping An Eye On Nola This Spring

Hopefully 2017 sees Eickhoff get a bit more national recognition than he has to this point for his efforts. He’s a solid starting pitcher who has done nothing but perform since dawning the Phillies red and there’s no doubt he’s on his way to becoming even more of a fan favorite than he already is.

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