Phillies likely using same rotation as last year for 2018

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 25: Starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff #48 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch in the third inning against the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park on August 25, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 25: Starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff #48 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch in the third inning against the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park on August 25, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /
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It’s becoming increasingly unlikely that the Phillies add anyone to the starting rotation before the 2018 season starts, leaving things mostly the same.

Despite spring training being less than three weeks away, many of baseball’s biggest free agents are still on the market. The Phillies still remain one of the biggest spenders of the offseason, and they only signed three players. Prices are going to start dropping to sign guys like Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, but the clock is ticking.

While general manager Matt Klentak has said the team would certainly go after guys if the prices drop – Philadelphia reportedly check in on Darvish and others earlier this week –  they still would have to compete with better teams who can afford those cheaper deals. The club is also averse to offering long-term deals that other clubs may be willing to do.

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Klentak also pointed out that they don’t want to take away from playing time from younger players so they can develop this season. If he doesn’t land one of the top-tier starting pitchers, he will likely be content keeping the rotation mostly the way it was to end the 2017 season.

Keeping things the same is certainly a risky endeavor for a team that could make a wild-card run if everything breaks right. The Phillies had one of the worst rotations in baseball last year.

Aaron Nola’s name was in the Cy Young conversation for some time last year, so no one is really concerned about him. After that, things start getting questionable.

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Injuries absolutely decimated the rotation last year. Jerad Eickhoff, Zach Eflin, and Vince Velasquez all ended the season on the disabled list. Even before they were put on the shelf, they all had their struggles. By the end of the year, it was Nola and a bunch of rookies and/or journeymen starting games for the team.

Eickhoff and Velasquez will probably get the first two spots in the rotation after Nola. Ben Lively and Nick Pivetta are probably the favorites, but Eflin, Tom Eshelman, Jake Thompson, and Mark Leiter are also in the mix.

Next: Will Cole Hamels return in free agency?

Unless the team makes a surprise move and winds up landing one of the top free agent starting pitchers, Philadelphia’s rotation in 2018 will likely look largely the same as it did last year. It won’t be the most exciting group for fans to get behind, but perhaps one or two in the group could take a step forward and fill at least one hold in the rotation.

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