Perhaps the biggest downfall for the Phillies was the overvaluing of their starting pitchers. Beyond Aaron Nola the rotation of Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Zach Eflin, and Jerad Eickhoff wasn’t up to snuff with what the Phillies expected to see this year. Arrieta regressed and none of the young arms took a step up this year.
The additions of Jason Vargas and Drew Smyly weren’t enough either after the Phillies decided they weren’t good enough to add a top of the rotation pitcher.
The 2020 starting pitchers available this offseason are abundant, depending on what teams and players do with their respective options. Stephen Strasburg and Yu Darvish both have player options, though Darvish is not likely to opt-out of his lucrative Cubs deal.
Five players, including Vargas, have club options for 2020: Corey Kluber, Julio Teheran, Chris Archer, Jose Quintana, and Vargas. Any of the four pitchers not already in Philadelphia would be some form of an upgrade over the current staff.
Gerrit Cole and Madison Bumgarner figure to be the tier one free agents this offseason. Cole is a leading candidate to win the American League Cy Young after a 300 strikeout season in Houston, and Bumgarner has a history of dominance in the playoffs.
Dallas Keuchel (who the Phillies turned down last offseason), Hyun-Jin Ryu, Cole Hamels, and Zack Wheeler are other notable veterans on the free agent market. Ryu has a history of injuries, but he leads the National League with a 2.41 ERA this year. Hamels would be a decent number three on this team as a veteran who has been there and done that.
Wheeler’s ERA is creeping up towards four this year, but there’s a lot of potential in his arm.
The trade market will be another avenue the Phillies likely go down with names such as Robbie Ray, Matthew Boyd, and Mike Minor previously connected to the team in trade talks.
Expect the Phillies to add at least two starting pitchers this offseason to complement Nola, Arrieta, and potentially Eflin.