Phillies starting rotation did their job in 2020 season
By Hunter Doyle
The Phillies starting rotation stepped up this year.
Coming into the 2020 season, the starting pitching rotation was one of the concerns for the Philadelphia Phillies. It wasn’t perfect this year, but it was good enough to win games the majority of the time. Everyone in Philly knows by now that this team would likely be locked into a playoff spot if it wasn’t for bullpen issues. They lead the league in three-plus-run leads blown that resulted in a loss — eight.
Zack Wheeler was huge for this Phillies team all season long. Last offseason, they knew they needed a bona fide No. 2 starter behind Aaron Nola, and they got that and much more. Wheeler was phenomenal and that’s an understatement. Entering his crucial Saturday outing, Wheeler has allowed three runs or less in every start and allowed two earned runs or less in seven of his 10 starts. He has also racked up 45 strikeouts and walked just 12 batters.
Wheeler also has thrown six or more innings in seven of his 10 starts. In each of the three starts that he didn’t pitch six or more innings, he still put in 5 2/3 innings of work. Heading into his 11th and final start this weekend, he is 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA (10th in MLB), 1.13 WHIP, and .252 batting average against. While it is hard to judge his performance, since it is a short season, the Phillies couldn’t have asked for much more from him.
The ace of the rotation, Aaron Nola, was also impressive. The 27-year-old had seven quality starts out of 11 total; his final start is slated for Sunday’s season finale. So far, Nola has also thrown both his first complete game and first shutout, and now has two complete games overall. Even though those came in a doubleheader, which were shortened to seven-inning games, he was nothing short of spectacular.
It’s also worth noting that Nola reached double-digit strikeouts in four of his 11 starts and finished with seven or more strikeouts in nine of his 11 starts. Right now, he is eighth in the MLB with 90 strikeouts. He’ll head into his 12th and final start with a 5-4 record and a 3.06 ERA (top 20 in MLB), 1.00 WHIP (top 10 in MLB), and a .195 batting average against. Nola still needs to eliminate some of those poor outings where he falls apart early, but he had a great year overall.