Phillies Should Try Ranger Suarez Out in Starting Rotation

Ranger Suarez #55 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Ranger Suarez #55 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Phillies left-hander Ranger Suarez deserves a second chance as a starter.

As improbable as it may seem, left-handed Philadelphia Phillies reliever Ranger Suarez is one of the best bullpen arms in Major League Baseball this season.

Entering Sunday, through 14 appearances, Suarez is 3-1 with a 0.71 ERA and 22-7 strikeouts-to-walks ratio in 25 1/3 innings of work. Out of all qualified relievers, only Josh Hader (0.61) and Craig Kimbrel (0.64) have better ERAs.

Suarez took over for the struggling Aaron Nola on Saturday (2 1/3 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 1K, 2 HR) and tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings. He only allowed one hit and one walk and struck out three batters en route to his 10th career winning decision.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The popular saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” suggests the Phillies should keep Suarez in the bullpen where he is having success. However, the back end of the Phillies rotation is broken already — with a struggling Vince Velasquez and uncertainty surrounding former top prospect Spencer Howard. After Saturday’s game, Nola’s ERA is the worst it’s been all season, now 4.22.

Suarez began his big-league career as a starter in 2018, and the Phillies should seriously consider giving the 2021 standout a second chance to thrive in the role.

In high-leverage situations this season, Suarez has held six opposing batters hitless while striking out half of them. In medium-leverage scenarios, the left-hander has yielded just three hits, one run (a solo homer), and one walk, while striking out nine of his 31 batters faced.

The 25-year-old Suarez has been particularly dominant against left-handed hitters, allowing only one hit and five walks through 8 2/3 scoreless innings and 31 batters faced. With MVP-caliber left-handed batters in the division such as Freddie Freeman or Juan Soto, Suarez only becomes that much more valuable.

Through 68 games this season, the Phillies are 34-34 and sit four games behind the first-place New York Mets in the National League East. There will come a time when the Phillies will have to get creative to keep pace with their division rival. Making Suarez a starter could be among those changes.

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