Phillies starting rotation upgrades now a major offseason need

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25: Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action against the New York Mets during game one of a doubleheader at Citi Field on June 25, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 25: Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action against the New York Mets during game one of a doubleheader at Citi Field on June 25, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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The Phillies still have a chance at making the 2021 postseason

The Phillies acquired Kyle Gibson as part of the return package for Howard. The 33-year-old is in the midst of a career year in total between Texas and Philadelphia, his first All-Star season.

Lefty Ranger Suárez has been a pleasant surprise since making his season debut in early May. He began as a middle reliever but quickly worked himself into the closer’s role. He has allowed more than one run in only one his eight starts since joining the rotation in August. His collective ERA is 1.38.

Both pitchers have kept the starting rotation intact as the Phillies desperately cling to their playoff hopes. They hope to ride Zack Wheeler, who has shown signs of fatigue recently, and get some sort of rejuvenated effort from Nola in their September pennant race.

Projecting the 2022 Phillies Starting Rotation

The shuffle of starting pitchers wasn’t a problem the Phillies expected to face this year, but a new plan for the future must be put together this offseason.

Wheeler is under contract through 2024, and he will be the projected number one. The organization expects Suárez to begin the 2022 season in the rotation, and Gibson is also under contract through next year.

Nola’s struggles have thrown a serious wrench into future works. It’s difficult to project him at the top of the rotation, but the Phillies might decide that their option is to cross their fingers for a bounce-back season. Nola has performed at a level worthy of an ace for only one season during his career and consistently struggled in the month of September. It’s ambitious to count on him as a number-two starter moving forward.

It’s unlikely the Phillies can acquire another big-named starter from outside the organization, given Wheeler’s expensive contract and their desire to stay below the MLB luxury tax. At the trade deadline, the front office stated that the franchise was willing to exceed the tax threshold for the first time in their history, but that did not come to be. Perhaps this offseason.

The Eflin injury is another obstacle the Phillies will have to take into account. The timetable for his recovery from surgery is 6-8 months, meaning he won’t be close to ready for next Opening Day. They will need to evaluate his health and decide if they can realistically count on him making contributions during the first half of the 2022 season.

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