Phillies starting rotation did their job in 2020 season

Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia Phillies
Spencer Howard (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The Phillies couldn’t find a fifth starter, but still managed.

Spencer Howard has work to do, but it’s important to remember that he pitched just six games in Double-A before his big-league debut. Consider that, there shouldn’t be much reason to worry about Howard. He showed flashes of dominance in 2020. Once his command gets nailed down, he’ll be ready to pitch at the top of the rotation. Expect big things from him in the next few years. This was a tough season since the Phillies couldn’t get him some more experience in the minor leagues, but it was good that they got him some action.

Lastly, Vince Velasquez had another forgettable season. It’d be better to move him to the bullpen for the future. It’s frustrating that he is still in the starting rotation after all of these years. The Phillies can’t expect to win games with how high his pitch count gets so early in games. He went more than four innings in four of his eight starts, and he went more than five innings just once.

If there is anything positive to take away from his season, it is that he pitched efficiently in his final two starts. Last week versus Toronto, he helped the Phillies get a big win with six innings of work and just two hits, three walks, and one earned run allowed. He also struck out six in the 3-1 victory. The Phillies desperately needed that performance from Vince..

In the opening game of the final series of the year with a playoff spot on the line, Velasquez pitched well early on against the Tampa Bay Rays. He got through four innings of work with just three hits and one earned run allowed. Unfortunately, he ran into trouble in the fifth inning, and considering what is at stake,  manager Joe Girardi couldn’t risk leaving him in. Tommy Hunter came in to try and keep the lead the Phillies had built, but instead he allowed the Rays to tie it up.

Velasquez’s outing doesn’t look great in the box score for this one, but he did keep the Phillies in it. Despite trailing 1-0 early, he kept the Rays quiet for a few innings and allowed the Phillies offense to come back and take a 4-1 lead. The offense went quiet for the rest of the night, though, and the bullpen blew yet another three-run lead. Even with Velasquez’s poor season, he could’ve been a lot worse in his final two starts.

This starting rotation wasn’t anything flashy outside of the front two guys, but they put this team in a good position to win more often than not. There weren’t too many times where the starters cost this team a win compared to the countless amount of times that the bullpen did. Nola and Wheeler paved the way and the rest of the guys scattered solid performances to help this team win series.

If the Phillies add one more experienced starter this upcoming offseason and Howard continues to develop, they’ll be in a great spot for 2021.

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