The Phillies pitching woes in 2017 are well documented. Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez are on the disabled list. Jeremy Hellickson and Clay Buchholz are long gone. Nick Pivetta, Jake Thompson, Zach Eflin, Mark Appel and others have not stepped up to the plate as hurler the Phils can count on as reliable Major League starting pitchers in 2018.
Ben Lively and Mark Leiter Jr. have been adequate, if unspectacular. But it’s clear that, if the Phillies want to have better pitching next season, they’re going to have to go outside the organization to get it.
The Phillies certainly could trade some of their many prospects and try to acquire a young, controllable starter like Michael Fulmer, Gerrit Cole or Chris Archer. They could go after a mid-rotation free agent, like Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb (two very good options).
Or, they could go after one of the big fish, Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta. On Wednesday’s edition of ESPN’s Baseball Tonight podcast, host Buster Olney speculated that he thinks the Phillies are one of four teams (Angels, Braves and Rangers are the others) that could make a serious run at Jake Arrieta this off-season.
Arrieta got off to a rough start this year. In the first half, he posted an ERA of 4.35 and opponents were hitting .247 against him. But in the second half, he’s posted the second-best ERA among all qualified starters (1.59) and opponents are hitting a meager .186 against him.
His fastball has averaged 92.1 mph this season, down about 2 mph from 2015. He’ll be 32 years old next year and, thanks to his impressive second half, will probably be looking for a contract of 5-6 years and around $100-120 million.
The Phillies have a dire need for top-shelf starting pitching, and if the contract were on the shorter and cheaper end of that spectrum, five years and $100 million, then the Phils should absolutely take a shot. But anything longer than that, and it could be a boondoggle for the Phillies.
Signing a 32-year-old pitcher with declining velocity to a six-year deal is asking for trouble, even if you get two or three good years on the front end. That being said, the addition of Arrieta would be most welcome. His strikeout rate (23.2%) is almost exactly where it was a year ago, so the diminished velocity isn’t that much of a concern. He’s also decreased his walk rate from a year ago as well (9.6% to 7.9%).
There are definitely solid reasons not to pursue Jake Arrieta. Going after Lynn and/or Cobb would be the safer choice, but neither has the upside of Arrieta.
Of course, you’d also have to convince all these pitchers that Philadelphia, a team that is on pace for 102 losses this season, is a place they’d want to play. On Episode 146 of The Felske Files host John Stolnis talked to 94 WIP’s Joe Giglio, who is also the host of a terrific Phillies podcast called “Talkin’ Phillies,” about the possibility of adding Arrieta, and what else the Phillies might do to fix their rotation for next season and beyond.
Also on this week’s podcast...
- Jerad Eickhoff hits the DL, why we should be worried about him
- Fastball has been down this year with no real explanation why
- The “tingling” in his hand is reminiscent of the Vince Velasquez numbness in this middle finger... what is going on there?
- Phils pick up Juan Nicasio off the waiver wire from the Pirates
- Nicasio is a free agent and one of the most effective relief pitchers in the National League
- Why would Pittsburgh just let him go? Why are the Phillies adding him?
- This month, a number of regulars will be returning from the DL, namely Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr
- J.P. Crawford is expected to be called up
- Why are the Phillies moving heaven and earth to make sure Freddy Galvis plays all 162 games?
- How is Pete Mackanin going to find playing time for everybody, even with everyone all trying out multiple positions?
- Is it smart to start Vince Velasquez again next year?
- Should the Phillies go after Giancarlo Stanton this off-season
- Chances are the Marlins aren’t going to deal him
- September call-up roster expansion rules are arcane and stupid and should be done away with
- Who might the Phillies be calling up?
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