With the top of the Philadelphia Phillies starting pitching rotation locked down, they hope to similarly sure up the final spots. Amid the recent free-agent frenzy that saw the Phillies re-sign catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Didi Gregorius, they also made a low-risk, but potentially high-reward move when they signed free-agent pitcher Matt Moore to a one-year deal. On Wednesday, the Phillies added even more depth by signing another one-year deal with fellow veteran Chase Anderson.
The signings were intriguing — raising attention to the team acknowledging and addressing the need for back-end rotation depth. While starting pitching was far from the biggest issue the Phillies suffered from in 2020, there was and remains plenty of room for improvement. Now, two weeks before the start of spring training, this begs the question — what might the 2021 Phillies starting rotation look like?
So, what’s written in stone for the 2021 Phillies rotation?
It feels like a foregone conclusion at this point, but barring an injury or something unforeseen shaking out, the top of the Phillies rotation in 2021 will be:
- Aaron Nola
- Zack Wheeler
- Zach Eflin
That’s about as solid of a one-two punch at the top of a rotation as you could hope for. On his best days, Nola has shown the ability to be an ace at the MLB level. His floor is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Wheeler has also proved he’s the real deal and fans can look forward to seeing him pitch a full season with the Phillies in 2021.
Eflin can be a bit of a wild card though. He’s undeniably made real strides since he broke into the league in 2016, lowering his ERA from the previous year in each of the last three seasons. However, he’s also struggled with consistency.
In 2018, Eflin began the first half of the season with a 7-2 record and 3.15 ERA, however, he collapsed in the second half with a 5.76 ERA — while nearly doubling his home runs allowed from six to 10. The 2019 season was a similar story, albeit to a far lesser degree. Eflin went 7-8 with a 3.78 ERA in 17 starts to begin the season, but had a brutal July where he went 0-4 in four outings with an 11.88 ERA. He was able to rebound nicely to end the season and carried that success into 2020, which proved to be the best of his career.
In 2020, Eflin posted the second-lowest BB/9, lowest ERA, and the highest K/9 of his career. Coming up will be his age-27 season; there is reason to believe Eflin is beginning to put it all together. If he can give the Phillies quality innings and continue to improve, they could have a fantastic top of the rotation.