Will Phillies be scared to spend on pitching during offseason?

Starting pitcher Jake Arrieta #49 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Starting pitcher Jake Arrieta #49 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

With the Phillies’ free-agent pitchers signings not panning out, will they be scared to spend on pitchers this offseason?

As you know if you have paid attention to the Phillies at all this year, their pitching staff is quite terrible. They rank 28th as a staff in Fangraphs wins above replacement, better than only the 47-68 Mariners and 38-75 Orioles. Neither the bullpen nor rotation has been consistent at all this season.

While the pitching staff is terrible, the team certainly tried to improve it in recent years. Heading into last year, they signed starter Jake Arrieta and relievers Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter. This offseason, they signed David Robertson and traded for James Pazos, Juan Nicasio, and Jose Alvarez. Unfortunately, not a single one of these moves have worked out that well for the team.

Starting with Arrieta, his numbers have declined rapidly since his 2015 Cy Young season. Last year he had a 3.96 ERA and 1.286 WHIP in 31 starts. His numbers are even worse this year as his ERA is now 4.41 as he tries to pitch through a bone spur in his elbow. Arrieta certainly hasn’t lived up to his $25 million per year price tag.

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Neshek was brought back with the hope he could pitch as he did when he was Philadelphia’s All-Star in 2017. His numbers were good last year, but he missed the first half of the year with a shoulder strain.

Neshek again went on the injured list this year with a shoulder strain at the end of May. He returned for less than a week in June before going back on the shelf with a hamstring strain. Neshek hasn’t pitched since, and he may very well not pitch again, ever.

Hunter has spent time on the injured list in each of his two seasons as a Phillie. He has made just five appearances this year and will not pitch again this year after undergoing surgery on his forearm.

Robertson made just seven appearances before hitting the injured list in April. Not only is he done for the season, but there’s also a decent chance he never pitches again. The righty reliever needs surgery to repair an elbow injury, and there will be no timetable for his return.

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Altogether, the Phillies spent over $132 million on Arrieta, Robertson, Neshek, and Hunter in the last two offseasons. They have not produced anywhere close to the value of their contracts, and it’s unlikely anyone will at this point.

With these recent failures fresh in the memories of the front office, will it impact how they look at free agency this offseason? Something must be done to upgrade the pitching staff in the offseason. They don’t have any real options in the minors, or they would already be with the big-league team.

Gerrit Cole and Madison Bumgarner are the best starters to be available with other notable names like Cole Hamels and Dallas Keuchel.

Aroldis Chapman could headline the relievers available as free agents. However, will the Phillies pursue these pitchers after being burned by Arrieta and the relievers they signed in recent years?

Next. Breaking down the 2020 pitcher market. dark

Unfortunately, Philadelphia is stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they make a move, it could easily blow up in their face yet again. If they don’t, the pitching staff will be just as bad next year as it is this year. This will be a tough decision that the front office will have to wrestle with heading into next offseason.