Phillies: Breaking down the spring training roster battles

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 03: Tommy Joseph #19 (L) and Cameron Rupp #29 (R) of the Philadelphia Phillies douse Ben Lively #49 of the Philadelphia Phillies after the game on his performance at Citizens Bank Park on June 3, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 5-3. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 03: Tommy Joseph #19 (L) and Cameron Rupp #29 (R) of the Philadelphia Phillies douse Ben Lively #49 of the Philadelphia Phillies after the game on his performance at Citizens Bank Park on June 3, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 5-3. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images) /
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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – AUGUST 20: Ben Lively #49 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at AT&T Park on August 20, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /

Back of the rotation

The Phillies are reportedly still looking for a veteran starter to add to the rotation, but as it stands now, the rotation will be largely unchanged compared to last year. The first three spots will go to Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasuqez; the last two are up in the air.

Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Jake Thompson, Zach Eflin, and Tom Eshelman all could push for those last two spots. The first four all started for the team last year with middling results. Pivetta flashed a high strikeout rate but little control and had the fifth-highest ERA of any pitcher with more than 130 innings. Lively started his major-league career off strong but did not post great numbers overall after a so-so finish. Thompson and Eflin have been wildly inconsistent in the majors, with Eflin dealing with injury the last two years. Eshelman showed plenty of upside in the minors last year, but he is not on the 40-man roster and obviously has no major-league experience.

Ultimately, this battle could and likely will be very close, being determined at the end of camp. Pivetta and Lively both showed enough potential last year to warrant a chance this season. However, good camps from Eflin or Thompson could alter those plans. Eshelman is the wild card here and if the coaches feel strongly about him, he could work his way onto the roster.

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