Phillies starters dominating MLB hitters with a wildly different approach

Phillies starters are bucking the MLB trend of pushing for maximum velocity this season — and it's working.
Philadelphia Phillies v Colorado Rockies
Philadelphia Phillies v Colorado Rockies / Alysa Rubin/Clarkson Creative/GettyImages

There’s no doubt that the Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation has been absolutely dominant this season, leading the team to early-season success thus far. Led by co-aces Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, along with the huge breakout season by Ranger Suárez, they currently boast the best rotation in Major League Baseball. 

If we take a look at the composition of the Phillies’ current group of starters, one would find that it consists of the same members as last season (plus a little Spencer Turnbull). So what have they done to convert themselves into the dominating force that they are now?

Phillies starters dominating MLB hitters with a wildly different approach 

The Phillies have accomplished this feat by utilizing a wildly different approach when it comes to the delivery and execution of their pitches, as Dan O'Dowd and the MLB Central crew recently broke down.

Most teams aim to field starters who blow the competition away by throwing high velocity. The Phillies have chosen an unconventional way to baffle hitters by having one of the slowest average fastball velocities as a staff in MLB.

With the league average fastball velocity for starters being close to 93.4 mph, the Phillies rotation is averaging just 92.8 mph this year, which is tied for 23rd. By adopting the Greg Maddux style of pitching, it has brought huge success to the team this season.

The Phillies starting rotation currently leads the league with a 32-10 record, a 2.64 ERA, 375 1/3 innings pitched, two shutouts, 371 strikeouts and a .207 opponent batting average. Their 1.05 WHIP ranks second behind the Seattle Mariners.

The results clearly show that being able to locate pitches and adding significant movement is perhaps even more important to be an effective pitcher than just throwing high velocity. Suárez has been the perfect example of this, as the evolution in his pitch deliveries has directly led to his current success.

"In an era where we're talking about velocity on a consistent basis, I think the Phillies are an organization and a major league starting rotation I think we need to look at," O'Dowd says in the segment. "They've taken the pitches their pitchers have and instead of trying to get more velocity out of it, they've created more movement ... you can win at the major league level a different way than just pure velocity (in the) starting rotation."

As teams observe the scintillating success of the Phillies’ pitchers, more of them might try to follow suit with hopes of duplicating a similar type of success. With the significant increase in injuries to flame-throwing pitchers in recent years, this could actually be an effective and successful way to go for the future of MLB pitching.

The Phillies already appear to be one step ahead of everyone.