Ranger Suarez is set to return to the Philadelphia Phillies rotation this weekend in Colorado. Before a key piece returns to the mix, it's important to look back at how the group has faired in 2023 so far and what they'll be looking to gain from Suarez's return.
Entering 2023, the Phillies rotation seemed to be one of the strengths of the team and one of the strongest in the Major Leagues. The team was coming off a historic playoff run that was highlighted by multiple starters stepping up and giving quality starts.
The two headed monster of Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler led the rotation throughout the postseason. Both returned in 2023.
Ranger Suarez was the key third guy in the rotation that stepped up multiple times throughout the playoffs, even being used as a closer in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
Other than the top three, the Phillies failed to find key contibutors out of the rotation in 2022, often using Noah Syndergaard and Bailey Falter when needed. The lack of depth ultimately led to the teams demise. The Astros rotation was too strong for the Phillies to keep up with and Houston ultimately won the World Series.
To fix the rotation issues in 2023, the Phillies let Syndergaard walk and added Taijuan Walker in Free Agency. The team was also expecting to add top prospect Andrew Painter to the mix, but he was injured in spring training and will be pushed back a few months.
To start spring training, Philadelphia entered the year with the rotation of Nola, Wheeler, Suarez, Walker, Painter, Falter. However in baseball, things don't always go as planned. Suarez and Painter were both injured by Opening Day, forcing the Phillies to start with a different looking rotation.
The new rotation consisted of Nola, Wheeler, Walker, Falter, and Matt Strahm. Strahm signed a two year, $15 million contract this past offseason with Philadelphia. He was signed as a left handed bullpen option, but did have some starting experience.
How the Phillies rotation has performed so far in 2023:
The Phillies longest-tenured player has had an up-and-down year so far in 2023, but seems to have hit his stride in the early part of May. In April, Nola started the season pitching far below his career standards.
In his first three starts, Nola gave up three or more runs. By his fifth and final start of April, his ERA was north of five.
Despite the struggles, by his final start of April Nola looked to be back to All-Star form. In a World Series rematch, Nola had a stellar performance against the Houston Astros. He went eight innings giving up just three hits and one run.
In his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays, he pitched six innings giving up just two runs.
Nola slowly but surely is hitting his stride and the Phillies will need him if they hope to get back to the postseason.
Wheeler has had some consistency issues so far this season, but for the most part has performed well. In eight starts, he has three wins and an ERA of 3.80.
Philadelphia has won five games Wheeler has started in 2023, showing his ability to get deep into games and give his team a chance to win. Wheeler is a proven workhorse and will be vital to Philadelphia's success.
Walker has not had a great start to his Philies career so far. He has an ERA just under six and has only pitched into the sixth inning in three of his seven starts. His worst start was against the Dodgers when he gave up eight runs in just 3.1 innings of work.
With Ranger Suarez returning, there will be less pressure on Walker as he will be thought of as the No. 4 starter in the rotation. However, as an every fifth day starter, Walker will have to improve his horrific numbers for the team to reach its goals.
Falter is 0-for-6 to start the season and has given up three or more runs in his last five starts. He had a strong to the season giving up three runs in his first 10-1/3 innings. However, since that point, he has not been the same.
Despite the struggles, Falter will hold on to his spot in the rotation when Ranger Suarez returns. This is so Matt Strahm can move to the bullpen.
Strahm surprisingly was extremely efficient as a starter for the Phillies, boasting the best numbers out of all pitchers. He did not give up a run until his fourth appearance of the season and currently holds an ERA of 3.14.
With Suarez returning, Strahm is now able to be used in the role he was intended to when he was signed. As a long reliever out of the bullpen, he can be extremely effective.
Suarez's return is huge for the team. In 2022, he had a 3.65 ERA with 10 wins and 129 strikeouts. He is a great left handed compliment to Nola and Wheeler at the front of the rotation and adds depth to a group who is in need of it.