Phillies 2019 season preview: Starting pitcher Nick Pivetta
After taking a step forward in 2018, can Nick Pivetta improve even further and make his way to the top of the Phillies rotation?
Nick Pivetta started off his Phillies career with a trial by fire, making 26 starts for the third-worst team in baseball in 2017. He was prone to mistakes, serving up 25 home runs and walking 9.8% of opposing hitters. Both led to a 6.02 ERA, fifth-worst among pitchers with 130 or more innings.
Pivetta flashed enough potential despite his struggles to earn a fast track to a rotation spot last year. His advanced metrics were more favorable thanks to his high strikeout rate, indicating he had room to develop and improve his numbers.
Early on last year, Pivetta showed just how good he can be, posting a 3.26 ERA and 2.80 fielding-independent pitching through the first two months of the year. In 11 starts during that span, he had a 4.79 strikeout-to-walk ratio, 1.09 WHIP, and 8.9% home run to fly ball rate. His success had people talking about his potential as a No. 2 starter behind Aaron Nola.
From that point on, Pivetta struggled with a 5.60 ERA and 19 home runs allowed in his last 21 starts. He was still striking out batters at a high rate, but his walk rate and batting average against both rose significantly. Pivetta looked more like his 2017 self than the one from earlier that year.
Altogether, Pivetta finished 2018 with a 7-14 record, 4.77 ERA, 3.80 fielding-independent pitching, 27.1% strikeout rate, 7.4% walk rate, 2.8 Fangraphs wins above replacement, and 2.3 Baseball-Reference wins above replacement. It was certainly better than his rookie year, but he still has plenty of room to improve this year.