Phillies Expected to Sign ‘Significant’ Starting Pitcher Before 2020

Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /

The Phillies are believed to add one of Madison Bumgarner, Cole Hamels, or Zack Wheeler to their starting rotation by New Year’s Day.

Even if the Philadelphia Phillies do not sign 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, nor three-time All-Star Gerrit Cole, they seem poised to make at least one notable addition to their starting rotation this offseason.

According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, it is believed that Madison Bumgarner, Cole Hamels, or Zack Wheeler are more likely to sign with the Phillies. And, per his belief, at least one of these three “significant” starting pitchers will have agreed to don red pinstripes next season by New Year’s Day.

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“I’m not sure I like the Phillies’ chances to get Strasburg or Cole, but I think that next group of pitching down ― Bumgarner, [Hamels], and Wheeler ― is a really good fit for the Philadelphia Phillies,” Morosi said Monday on MLB Network’s High Heat. “They know they need pitching help.”

The addition of a quality left-handed starting pitcher appears to be the Phillies’ greatest need this offseason, which would balance right-handers Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, and Zach Eflin, among others.

“They need a lefty. If you look at their rotation, it’s very righty dominant,” Morosi said.

A reunion with the 2008 World Series MVP in Hamels would surely garner praise from fans. The soon-to-be 36-year-old appeared in 13 postseason games in red pinstripes from 2007 to 2011. Since, the southpaw has appeared in a combined four such contests with the Texas Rangers (2015, 2016) and Chicago Cubs (2018), while the Phillies have appeared in none. This past season with the Cubs, Hamels went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.391 WHIP over 27 starts.

While reuniting with their former perennial left-handed ace would surely be a headline-grabbing signing, Morosi believes adding Bumgarner would be an “ideal fit for the Phillies, in so many ways.”

Bumgarner, 30, is a four-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and most notably a three-time World Series champion and one-time World Series MVP. The 11-year veteran is 119-92 in his career, with a 3.13 ERA, 1.111 WHIP and 1,794-428 strikeout-to-walk ratio spanning 1,846 innings. While Bumgarner’s ERA rose to 3.90 ERA, it would still be among the best on the Phillies’ pitching staff, who had a combined 4.64 ERA in 2019.

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“Bumgarner may actually want to be with the Braves because he grew up not too far from there, North Carolina,” said Morosi, who added that considering the Phillies are in the same division as the reigning World Series champions, them adding the left-hander makes sense.

Wheeler, 29, is another option for the Phillies, however the 29-year-old is a right-hander and therefore would not help to balance the lack of southpaws in the starting rotation. The five-year veteran and former sixth overall draft pick has a career 3.77 ERA through 126 starts, all of which came with division-rival New York Mets.

Morosi concludes, “[Comparing to] all that rotation depth and excellence that [the Nationals have] in our nation’s capital, Bumgarner with all that playoff experience to help this younger rotation to be the lefty complement to a very righty-dominant rotation … I think, in so many ways, Bumgarner is an ideal fit there.”