Phillies: Where does the starting rotation stand?

CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers during the first inning of a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Spectrum Field on February 23, 2020 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers during the first inning of a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Spectrum Field on February 23, 2020 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 16: Nick Pivetta #43 of the Philadelphia Phillies talks with pitching coach Chris Young #45 in the dugout during a game against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park on April 16, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Mets 14-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Major questions at the end

Whether it’s Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Ranger Suarez, or even someone like Cole Irvin, the #5 spot in the rotation still appears to be completely up in the air.

Guys like Velasquez and Pivetta have been given a plethora of chances to prove their worth as a major league starter, and overall have disappointed. “Vinny Velo” has long evoked loud groans from Phillies fans around the world as he takes two hours to deliver 90 pitches, across just 4 innings…

Pivetta on the other hand, despite long being hailed as an elite prospect (and even a Cy Young sleeper candidate), has somehow been even worse than Velasquez. Owning a career ERA of 5.34, Pivetta has monumentally struggled with his pitch control and his self confidence. Multiple occasions have arisen of him looking completely lost on the mound, and it’s resulted in poor outings and even midseason stints in AAA.

Cole Irvin got a brief shot as a starter midway through the 2019 season before ultimately losing it due to continued bad performances.

Lefty Ranger Suarez, on the other hand, has very recently emerged as a potential front runner for a back-end starter job. During his few Spring Training appearances, he did nothing but impress.

The one major wild card to all of this is Phillies current #1 pitching prospect Spencer Howard. Ranked as a top 30 prospect across the entire minor league system, Howard appears to be the real deal. Once he is fully ready for major league action (which could take some time due to the delayed season start) Howard will no doubt be kicking someone out of the rotation.

Based on how everyone is playing, even Eflin or Arrieta could be at risk for losing their spots…

Overall grade? C-

Overall grade with Howard? A+

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