Phillies: 2022’s Rotation Remedy


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

For the Philadelphia Phillies faithful, the trading deadline is a time to hope for a difference-maker, but some fans prefer keeping top prospects. Unfortunately, major acquisitions require –at least– one MiLB standout just to be in the conversation. Or the front office could pursue a four or-five-slot arm.               


An Affordable Replacement:

Again, the Phillies have Zach Eflin’s questionable health. In 2021’s second half, he had made only one injury-related start and never returned due to having surgery. Now, his balky knee has affected his pitching even in a simulated game, and this time it’s not too late for a fix.                                        

Put Another Way:

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” – Henry Ford

According to Jim Salisbury on TV, Eflin’s simulation appeared short, and coaches’ answers were vague: He had some soreness but is showing improvement. But if that wasn’t totally accurate, management may not want to look desperate, so they can prevent overpaying for a replacement. A shrewd move?      

For now, the Fightins are trailing the New York Mets by 9.5 games and the Atlanta Braves by eight, and seven contests remain between now and the Aug. 2 deadline. So, winning the National League East is secondary to a wild-card berth, and three clubs are within two games of each other for the final postseason spot.     

FanGraphs Odds through the First Half:

  1. Win Division
  2. Clinch Bye
  3. Clinch Wild Card
  4. Make Playoffs
  5. Win World Series
TEAM W – L 1 2 3 4 5
Padres 89-73 2.6% 2,4% 73.8% 76.5% 4.4%
Brewers 88-74 63.4% 2.6% 9,5% 72.8% 3.8%
Phillies 86-76 0.8% 0.7% 44.6% 45.4% 1.8%
Cardinals 86-76 36.6% 0.7% 15.9% 52.5% 1.4%
Giants 86-76 1.0% 0.9% 51.7% 52.7% 2.6%

Even though the wild card increases revenue, it also irritates owners. Too often, the wild-card team turns a hot streak into a serious October run to the Fall Classic, and an early offseason vexes deep-pocketed organizations atop their divisions.                 

To illustrate, the wild-card St. Louis Cardinals on their World Series march defeated the 2011 Phils and their four aces. And this wasn’t an isolated occurrence: The Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco Giants had competed in the 2002 Fall Classic after being wild cards.           

For top divisional clubs, the idea of a hot wild-card team with 90 wins defeating a 102-victory NL East franchise as a step to a World Series pennant wasn’t an owners’ preference. So, they came up with the Wild Card Game in 2012 and now the Wild Card series as an elimination tool.                              

Even though organizations make mid-season splashes, the hot club going into the playoffs has a decent opportunity. Recently, the 2019 Washington Nationals were the long shot, and they secured the trophy. In ‘21, the Braves were on fire and won it all.                

While the NL East title isn’t impossible for the red pinstripes, it would require beating two rivals, not one. But being hot heading into October can be more important because the club’s mindset can frequently overcome longer odds. Therefore, the MLB established these hurdles to make it difficult.    

Potential Acquisitions:

The current strategy involves a two-year window of spending up to $20 million AAV (average annual value) over the $230 million CBT (competitive-balance threshold). With penalties, though, of 20 percent and 30 percent respectively, the additional cost is $4 million and $6 million before sliding back under the CBT.           

Even though southpaw Martin Perez has a 2.59 ERA (a career best), he has a 4.01 ERA for July, which is closer to his 4.74 ERA (2021) and 4.50 ERA (2020). But he’s also averaging 6.2 innings per start in his last seven appearances. However, the Texas Rangers may re-sign him with 2023’s plan for contention.  

Phillies Rental Targets:

LH Martin Perez, 31, Texas Rangers: 

  • 19 Gms., 118 Inn., 8-2, a 2.59 ERA and a 2.4 fWAR.

RH Chad Kuhl, almost 30, Colorado Rockies: 

  • 18 Gms., 94 ⅓ Inn., 6-5, a 4.48 ERA and a 1.1 fWAR.

Kuhl is a 5-6 frame starter with a 4.48 ERA, but he has a 5.45 ERA for his last seven contests. Overall,  he’s had a 4.20 ERA to a 4.82 ERA from 2016 through 2021. Translation: He would plug a hole for two months if Eflin’s knee soreness continues. Concerning: yes!                

Lefty Jose Quintana has a 3.70 ERA, but two recent outings were duds before seven shutout innings on July 23. Realistically, he’s a five-frame arm, who’s had a 4.03 ERA to a 4.68 ERA since 2017. Granted, Bailey Falter isn’t the solution, and Quintana won’t require prospect capital either.                                           

Phillies Rental Targets:

LH Jose Quintana, 33.5, Pittsburgh Pirates: 

  • 19 Gms., 97 ⅓ Inn., 3-5, a 3.70 ERA and a 2.0 fWAR.

RH Zach Davies, 29.5, Arizona Diamondbacks: 

  • 15 Gms., 80 Inn., 2-4, a 3.94 ERA and a 0.9 fWAR.

Placed on the injured list retroactive to June 26, Davies was eligible to return on July 11 and would draw interest if he’s healthy. But if his right shoulder inflammation lingers to July’s end, he won’t be worth the risk despite a 3.94 ERA and 5.3 innings per appearance. Yes, there would be stiff competition for a healthy Davies.  

Phillies Top Prospects:

Even if the Fightins trade for a mid-rotation hurler, it’s doubtful that Andrew Painter or Mick Abel would be in any moves. But Griff McGarry could be in a package for a solid three-slot pitcher with more control than a two-month rental. However, it’s a consideration due to impending free agents Kyle Gibson and Eflin.          

Phillies Top Rotation Prospects:

RH Andrew Painter, 19: 

  • 9 A Gms., 38 ⅔ Inn., 1-1 and a 1.40 ERA.
  • 5 A+ Gms., 16 ⅔ Inn., 0-0 and a 2.16 ERA.

RH Mick Able, almost 21: 

  • 15 A+ Gms., 72 Inn., 5-7 and a 4.25 ERA.

RH Griff McGarry, 23: 

  • 12 A+ Gms., 46 ⅔ Inn., 3-3 and a 3.86 ERA.
  • 2 AA Gms., 8 ⅓ Inn., 0-1 and a 3.24 ERA.

Phillies Top Hitting Prospects:

C RH Logan O’Hoppe, 22.5:

  • 69 AA Gms., 241 AB, a .274 Avg., 15 HR, 44 RBI, a .905 OPS and a 148 wRC+ (48% over overall offensive production with 100 as average).

C SH Rafael Marchan, 23.5:

  • 33 AAA Gms., 119 AB, a .227 Avg., 3 HR, 14 RBI, a .703 OPS and a 94 wRC+ (6% under average overall offensive production).

CF RH Johan Rojas, almost 22:

  • 70 A+ Gms., 292 PA, a .230 Avg., 3 HR, 22 RBI, a .612 OPS. 33 SB, 1 CS and a 67 wRC+ (33% under average overall offensive production).
  • 16 AA Gms., 71 PA, a .290 Avg., 1 HR, 3 RBI, a .784 OPS. 10 SB, 0 CS and a 121 wRC+ (21% over average overall offensive production).

Looking at Rojas’ stats, Dave Dombrowski, PBO (president of baseball operations), can envision a leadoff man and center fielder in the second half of 2023 or in 2024. The youngster, who was the only prospect mentioned in Dombrowski’s October presser, will need three months each at Double-A and Triple-A.       

While JT Realmuto is under contract through 2025, he will need a replacement for his last summer or two. In fact, he can handle first base, and Rhys Hoskins –represented by Scott Boras– will be a free agent after ‘23. But the Phils have catchers Marchan and O’Hoppe, and one could be available in a package for a solid starter.                                

Although the Phillies are 28-17 since June 1, some will only focus on the Cubs’ sweep at the Bank and assume they have no shot to win the Braves set. But the forgotten part since June 1 is they’ve won nine series including four sweeps and a split out of 14 total. So, what will beating the Bravos mean to the execs? A reason to deal!         




2022’s National Playoff Odds



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