How do Phillies manage rotation with playoff hopes gone?

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ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 23: Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on September 23, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Stephen Nowland/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 23: Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on September 23, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Stephen Nowland/Getty Images) /
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As the end of the season approaches with no chance they make the playoffs, how do the Phillies manage their young rotation?

The Phillies capped off a magnificent collapse Sunday afternoon, mathematically being eliminated from the playoffs altogether this season. This came a day after the Braves clinched the National League East. They dropped all the way from a 70% chance to make the playoffs on Aug. 5 according to Fangraphs.

Philadelphia rode their starting rotation to success this year with everyone but Jake Arrieta 26 years old or younger. Aaron Nola cracked the 200 inning mark Sunday, pitching 37.1 innings more than last year. Vince Velasquez also set a new career high with 143 innings pitched. Zach Eflin and Nick Pivetta have both set career innings pitched marks in the majors this year, although they have thrown more in the majors and minors combined previously.

With their playoff hopes still alive, it made sense to keep sending these guys out there. They were the team’s best options to win day in and day out, and that was most important as they began to lose ground in the standings. However, the 2019 season and beyond matter more.

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Eflin and Velasquez are set to make two more starts this year, while Pivetta and Arrieta will make their last starts of the year in the last two games of the Rockies series. Nola has one start left on Friday against Atlanta, which manager Gabe Kapler said he expects Nola to make. The first two both have a significant injury history, suffering minor injuries in July. Perhaps limiting them to one more start this year isn’t the worst idea in the world.

There are plenty of options on the roster to make a spot start with 40 players in the clubhouse. Letting Jerad Eickhoff squeeze in a start before the season ends would be nice, especially since he has made just one appearance since returning from the disabled list.

Drew Anderson, Enyel De Los Santos, and Ranger Suarez are also options to start if they don’t feel confident letting Eickhoff pitch.

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This ultimately may not matter as Kapler and the team may let their starters finish out the season strong. However, they will certainly have a lot to think about over the last week of the season.

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