Three starting pitchers who could end up wearing a Phillies uniform in 2021.
There’s still one big fish in what was a relatively small pitching pond this offseason — that fish being Trevor Bauer. With the 2020 National League Cy Young Award winner reportedly narrowing his decision down to either the New York Mets or the Los Angeles Dodgers, willing contenders will inevitably be forced to examine other options when that deal is complete.
Bauer will essentially set the market value for the rest of the free-agent pitching class — a class that surprisingly still contains some arms to keep an eye on.
Rumors on Thursday suggest that the Phillies are still considering acquiring another starting pitcher — even after adding left-hander Matt Moore and right-hander Chase Anderson. Here are a few rotation options they could close in on over the next couple of weeks. And remember, spring training is not as far away as we might think.
A “bust” of sorts, right-hander Taijuan Walker was projected out to be a top-end starter while he made his way through the Seattle Mariners organization. While he has yet to live up to the high expectations placed upon him, Walker has been a good, if not above-average, major league player.
Walker has compiled a 35-34 record over 108 starts since breaking into the show at the ripe age of 20, with the lack of usage due in part to laundry list of injuries. Walker will still only be entering his age 28 season, and he looked very good in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform last season — striking out 25 in 26 innings of work.
Walker has adjusted to become a pitcher rather than a thrower, adding a cutter/slider into the mix, with a four-seamer that still rides in the mid-90s — from a 6-4 frame that works well downhill. He won’t command a lot of money given the injury history, but the Phillies could be acquiring a viable third starter with lots of “tread on the tires.”
Jake Odorizzi was bad last year, there’s no doubt about that. But aside from the microcosm that was the 2020 season, Odorizzi went 22-17 with about 4.00 ERA the previous two years. And given the production that the Phillies have been getting out their starters, I’ll take his consistency.
He’s logged 1,000 innings in the big leagues, but has never been a pitcher that relies on elite stuff, so a short-term deal is not a big risk when considering the team’s budget.
Another thing to consider is the fact that Odorizzi has never pitched out of the American League, and he’s made at least 28 starts in each of the last few seasons. Those two things may seem irrelevant, but effectiveness and durability have been missing from the Phillies staff. Odorizzi may provide an excellent middle-rotation option.
I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it every single time. Cole Hamels is destined to finish his career in a Phillies uniform. “Hollywood,” for the fans that don’t remember, is the poster boy for a golden era of Phillies baseball. He carried a 2008 rotation to a World Series win, a series in which he won the MVP.
The lefty was incredibly reliable over a decade in the organization, before leaving the Phillies in the July 2015 trade that essentially marked the beginning of a rebuild. Hamels found success with the Texas Rangers and then the Chicago Cubs. He’s a free agent once more at the age of 37, but there’s nothing indicating that Hamels can no longer be effective at the big-league level, as his stuff hasn’t fallen off much, if at all.
He’s not going to be a frontline guy anymore, but Hamels provides experience and prowess in a market like Philadelphia, as well as pure savvy for a youthful Phillies pitching staff. Seeing Hollywood back in Phillies pinstripes just feels right, right?