4 emergency options for the fifth starter spot if Sánchez falters in spring training

Cristopher Sánchez is currently slotted in at the back end of the Phillies rotation, but we look at four alternatives if things don't go as planned for him.

Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Four
Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Four / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages
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Nick Nelson

Nick Nelson enters his third season with the Phillies organization, and it could prove to be a pivotal year for him. First, will he get enough chances in the majors and if so, will it be as a starter or out of the bullpen?

Nelson's first year in Philadelphia certainly saw him get plenty of playing time with the Phillies, as he made two starts and had another 45 appearances as a reliever. In the process, he produced a 4.85 ERA, 3.04 FIP and 1.485 WHIP in 68 2/3 combined innings.

As a result, the 28-year-old was looking forward to continuing being part of the Phillies roster last season. Unfortunately for him however, fate had other ideas.

Nelson suffered a hamstring strain during spring training, which meant he began the 2023 campaign on the injured list. Once he returned, he had to settle for being optioned to Triple-A, due to other options emerging for the Phillies.

Then the righty suffered another setback with his hamstring and when he once again returned, spent most of the season pitching in the minors, including 20 starts at Triple-A. He produced a 7-3 record, 4.35 ERA and 1.479 WHIP in all for Lehigh Valley in 97 1/3 combined innings.

For what it's worth, Nelson did get one game in the majors at the end of the season. He pitched 5 1/3 innings and recorded the win, as he allowed just two hits and one earned run.

It will be interesting to see what happens for the Panama City, Florida native during spring training. In his favor, it's good that he offers the option of being both capable of starting and coming out of the bullpen.

However, it should be noted that it has only been in the minors that Nelson has mostly been used in the rotation, as evidenced by 104 starts out of his 130 appearances. By contrast, only four of his 70 overall games in the majors have been starts, during his time with the Phillies and the New York Yankees before them.

On the one hand we do consider Nelson as a potential emergency starter if required. However, you do have to wonder how much faith and trust the Phillies have in him to step into such a role at the big league level on a regular basis.

This is why spring training is so important for the 2014 31st-round draft pick, in proving and establishing what he's capable of for the Phillies. In all probability, he is more likely to be a bullpen option, so it's up to him to change the narrative.