Phillies starting rotation is even better than we thought it would be

The Phillies' starting pitching ranks among the best in the National League in more than a few statistical categories.
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Ranger Suárez has been excellent for the starting rotation this season
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Ranger Suárez has been excellent for the starting rotation this season / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Entering the 2024 season the Philadelphia Phillies were ranked as one of the top teams in Major League Baseball. The club's pitching — both starting rotation and bullpen —were held in high regard in many preseason rankings. Early on in the new campaign, the team's rotation has held true to the early predictions.

With Taijuan Walker beginning the season on the injured list, the Phillies entered the 2024 season with a rotation headed by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola with Ranger Suárez, Cristopher Sánchez, and Spencer Turnbull in tow. With the exception of Nola's first outing, the starting staff has done its job effectively.

How the Phillies rotation stacks up against other starting staffs

Entering Saturday, the Phillies rotation was at the top of the pack in many important stat categories. According to FanGraphs, the club's starters lead the National League in stats such as ERA (2.64), WHIP (1.02), BABIP (.254), fWAR (1.9), xFIP (3.24), and SIERA (3.37). They're second in FIP (3.37), opponent AVG (.205) and strand rate (75.5 percent).

The rotation also ranks third in the league in innings pitched with 78 1/3, fifth in K/9 (8.85) and fourth in BB/9 (2.41). The rotation has been able to limit baserunners and thus keep the sputtering offense in the game.

It's still very early in the season, but these numbers are very encouraging to see. Both the starting rotation and the bullpen are a big reason for the Phillies eclipsing the .500 mark early on in the young campaign.

Breaking down the rotation's individual pitching performances

Wheeler, the undisputed ace of the staff, has been expectedly remarkable to date. Through three appearances, he has thrown 19 innings, has an ERA of 1.89 with a 0.89 WHIP and has accumulated 20 strikeouts. He's still winless, but that's the fault of the offense. Over the course of his three outings, the Phillies' hitters have scored just four runs.

The Phillies have won two of Nola's three outings so far. After surrendering six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in his season debut, the right-hander has pitched 11 2/3 innings, allowing just two earned runs. On the season Nola has a 4.50 ERA and may be on the verge of settling down.

Suárez has looked like an ace so far in 2024. He scuffled a bit in his first outing, allowing three earned runs in five innings. In his two subsequent starts, however, the left-hander has been dominant. He has allowed just two earned runs in 12 innings. On the season Suárez has a 2.75 ERA, a 0.71 WHIP, and 19 strikeouts in 17 innings. The 28-year-old has finally amassed a full spring training and entered the season healthy. He could be in store for a big year.

Of all the Phillies' starters, Sánchez has had the most issues — if you can call them that. In his first two starts, the other left-hander on the staff allowed five earned runs in 9 1/3 innings and failed to make it out of the fifth inning in his second appearance. In his third outing on Friday night, the 27-year-old pitched well in a Phillies' loss. He brought his ERA down to 3.52 after a six-inning, one-earned run appearance.

Perhaps the biggest surprise to some is how well Turnbull has pitched in Walker's absence. Through his first two starts, the former Detroit Tiger has yet to allow an earned run in 11 innings. With a full arsenal of pitches working for him, Turnbull has been an effective fifth starter for the club. It remains to be seen how he will be used when Walker returns from the injured list. He is versatile enough to be a long-man out of the bullpen, but he could force the Phillies' hand into keeping him in the rotation until he struggles.

The Phillies are in a good spot with their starting pitching. Barring any injuries, the high expectations should remain in place for this staff. So much credit should go to Phillies' pitching coach Caleb Cotham and assistant pitching coach Brian Kaplan. They have steered the whole pitching staff in the right direction. This should be an area of strength for the club throughout the 2024 season.