Phillies: Five things to look forward to next season

SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 14: Rhys Hoskins
SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 14: Rhys Hoskins /
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ANAHEIM, CA – AUGUST 03: Jerad Eickhoff #48 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during the second inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2017 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Starting pitchers

Maybe the phrase “looking forward to” shouldn’t apply to the Phillies starting pitchers, but it’ll be a major storyline that will carry next season. Aaron Nola looks to be the team ace going forward after a dominant stretch of games coming out of the all-star break, and ranks in the top-10 in four different categories for National League pitchers. That includes ERA, strikeouts per nine innings, and home runs per nine innings.

After Nola, the starting rotation presents more questions than answers. Jerad Eickhoff has been a major disappointment this season after being the team workhorse in 2016. Injuries have plagued both Zach Eflin and Vincent Velasquez, who the team is hell-bent on starting in 2018.

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Nick Pivetta and Ben Lively are lumped into the category of pitchers who have flashed potential but may never be anything more than a mediocre starter.

Jake Thompson, meanwhile, is a complete and total bust since coming over in the Cole Hamels trade. He’s gotten his chances but hasn’t proven a thing. Same can be said for Mark Appel in AAA battling injuries.

The jury is still out on Mark Leiter Jr., who’s come out of nowhere as a long-man in the bullpen and a quality spot-starter. He’ll get his chance to make the rotation next winter.

Don’t be surprised if the Phillies spend on a pitcher in free agency this winter with Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood being intruiging candidates.

Next: Phillies top 25 under 25: Ranking young players

Prospect Thomas Eshelman is likely to be the next starter to get his chance in the rotation. He’ll lead a wave of young players including top prospects Franklyn Kilome and Sixto Sanchez who could fly through the organization.