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The 2016 Phillies and the six-man rotation

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Why going with a six-man rotation for much of the season could be a huge benefit to the Phillies this year.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies sure have acquired a pants-load of pitching over the last year or so.

They got Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff, Matt Harrison and Alec Asher in the Cole Hamels deal. They got Jimmy Cordero and Alberto Tirado in the Ben Revere trade. They acquired Nick Pivetta for Jonathan Papelbon. Zach Eflin and Tom Windle arrived from the Dodgers in the Jimmy Rollins deal. And to top it all off, Vincent Valesquez, Mark Appel, Thomas Eshelman, and Brett Oberholtzer in the Ken Giles trade.

And, I'm out of breath.

While some of those arms are relievers, specifically Cordero and Tirado, most of these players are starting pitchers. And when you add in a couple veteran arms that have come to the team in recent weeks, Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton, you get a starting pitching depth chart on MLB.com that looks something like this.

So yeah, clearly whoever put this list together was high on bath salts or something because Aaron Nola is, without question, going to be the team's Opening Day starter. But that is a long, long list, and it doesn't even cover Harrison or Jake Thompson, who could potentially make the rotation if both are healthy and pitch well.

But when you look at that list, you can see most of those have one thing in common.

They're young.

Nola will be 23 next year. Velasquez will be 24. Eickhoff will be 25. Morgan will be 26. Thompson probably will start the season in Triple-A, but will be 22 next season.

The veterans include Hellickson, 29 in 2016, Morton, who will be 32, and Oberholtzer, who will be 27.

Yes, some of these pitchers would and should start the season in the minors. Perhaps that is where Velasquez will start, too. But at the very least, you have four rotation spots spoken for.

Nola will be the number-one, Hellickson will probably be the number-two, Eickhoff and Morton will battle for the numbers three and four spots. So if the Phillies go with a five-man rotation, Morgan, Velasquez, Harrison and Oberholtzer would be vying for that last spot.

Competition is good, and whoever doesn't get that fifth spot can either start the season at Lehigh Valley or as a long reliever.

But given all their depth and the age of most of these starters, it would behoove the Phillies to consider going to a six-man rotation once we get past all the early season off-days.

Going to a six-man rotation will do a couple things. First, it will help keep the innings down for guys like Nola, Eickhoff, Morgan and Velasquez, if he does appear in the Phillies rotation this season. Sure, you'd like to stretch Nola and Eickhoff a little bit, but you also don't want Nola going much past 190 innings this season.

Second, it allows the Phillies to see more of their guys at the Major League level, while giving them a turn in the rotation every six days.

Also, there are no egos to bruise here. There is no ace of the staff worried about having starts taken away. For the young guys, they're still getting their feet wet, and for the veterans, they're not accomplished enough to complain about something like this.

This isn't something the Phils would or should do throughout the season. But when the calendar flips to the dog days of June, the weather starts to get hotter and the road trips get longer. Spacing these pitchers out will allow more than just five of them get a crack at facing Major League pitching, and will help keep the innings off the arms of some of the young guys the team is hoping will lead them back to playoff contention in 2017.

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