Phillies rotation finally showing chinks in their armor

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MIAMI, FL - APRIL 30: Jake Arrieta #49 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park on April 30, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - APRIL 30: Jake Arrieta #49 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park on April 30, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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After a strong start to the season, the Phillies rotation has started to struggle in recent games. Will things turn around?

The biggest key to the Phillies‘ early success this season has been their rotation. Even though the bullpen and offense have been inconsistent, the starting pitchers have been keeping the team in games all season. Well, until recently.

After rattling off 13 wins in 16 games, Philadelphia has won just two of their last seven. In these losses, several of the starting pitchers who started the year off well have taken a step back.

Ben Lively was the only starter who began the season poorly. In five starts, he has a 6.85 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, and 3.80 walks per nine innings. He allowed seven runs on seven hits and two walks in his last start, including two home runs. Lively hit the disabled list the next day with a lower back strain, potentially explaining his recent woes.

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Vince Velasquez had a poor first start this year, allowing seven runs – four earned – in his season debut. He was then able to string a few nice outings together, allowing just five runs and three walks in 18.2 innings. He made it through the sixth inning in all three starts, which for him is an achievement.

Velasquez has fallen off the wagon recently and was the losing pitcher in two of the team’s five recent losses.

He has allowed 10 runs on 11 hits and four walks in his last 8.2 innings.

Nick Pivetta also had a strong start to the year, posting a 2.57 ERA, 7.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and 1.00 WHIP in his first five starts to the year. It was a positive sign for a young starter who desperately needed to show an advance in his game.

Pivetta’s most recent start was not strong either as he allowed four runs in five innings on six hits and three walks to the Braves last Saturday. It was the most runs he allowed all season and he nearly matched his season walk total. It wasn’t an atrocious start, but it showed that Pivetta is still vulnerable.

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Even Jake Arrieta, who was seemingly unhittable to start the year, showed he is not perfect. After posting a 1.82 ERA through his first four starts, he allowed six runs on eight hits and two walks to the Marlins Monday night. Arrieta lasted just 3.2 innings into what was easily his worst start of the season against one of the worst teams in the league.

Arrieta and Aaron Nola are the only two pitchers to collect a win over the team’s last seven games. Even in Nola’s win, he took an early punch in the mouth when he allowed three runs in the first inning to the Braves. However, he started throwing his changeup far more often after the first, allowing just four baserunners over the next six innings.

Thanks to that and two Odubel Herrera home runs, Nola was bailed out from his rough first inning.

Next: Victor Arano on disabled list with shoulder strain

To expect Arrieta to maintain a sub-two ERA and Pivetta and Velasquez to pitch like top-of-the-rotation starters were probably too much to ask. The problem is the rest of the team hasn’t picked up the pace to compensate for the loss in starting pitching, and it has shown in the standings. They will need to step it up or this team will fall further behind in the NL East.

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