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 don’t have many viable pitching prospects close to being MLB-ready

Top prospect Mick Abel will need time for development in the minors over the next few years. Prospects Hans Crouse, Francisco Morales, and Erik Miller are further along in their development. However, the organization is unlikely to count on a breakout season in the majors from any of the three. They have not given definitive indications on how they plan to use lefty Bailey Falter.

There is also the concern that failure to develop pitching is an organizational failure, a concern backed up by the fact that numerous top draft picks have failed to materialize as solid big-league pitchers. Dombrowski has already begun demoting and cleaning house throughout the second half of the season, and his first full offseason as President of Baseball Ops will likely contain more of that. It’s likely the right move at this point; the Phillies have been “rebuilding” for almost a decade with not even an above-.500 record to show for their efforts.

The Phillies need to choose better free agents this offseason

The seemingly sensible option would be to add starting pitch depth in free agency. However, the Phillies failed miserably in this route last offseason. They re-signed Velasquez and added Chase Anderson and Matt Moore for a combined $11 million. The three have provided minimal contributions, and Anderson has already been released.

At this point, Dombrowski should do what he does best and go hook a big fish. Almost none of his cheap options have panned out, and it’s a waste of Harper, Wheeler, and Realmuto’s prime years to not make a serious effort to build around them. At least then if the team fails, they’ve tried everything.

Dombrowski will have his work cut out for him in fixing this Phillies roster during the offseason, especially if the team can’t make a comeback and earn a postseason berth in 2021. He can add starting pitch, one of the only expected strengths at the time of his hire, to the long list of needs.

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