Phillies: 2022 rotation expectations – Sports Talk Philly: Philadelphia Sports News and Rumors


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

After waiting months between off-season trading sprees, the Philadelphia Phillies faithful may be aiming too high in April. Yes, there is something to win! But manager Joe Girardi’s pitching changes will be different from last April due to abbreviated spring training.

Patience initially required:

Sadly, I expect comments on the internet about the Phillies skipper retiring a starter after five innings with 70 pitches and complaining that the pitcher was nowhere near 100. Will everyone voice those sentiments? on various social media sites? No, but some would say Girardi doesn’t know what he’s doing.

In other words:

“People who write about spring training not being necessary have never tried throwing a baseball.” -Sandy Koufax

One starter was late due to visa issues, while another had physical barriers requiring six weeks to be ready. So Aaron Nola and Kyle Gibson can go 6-7 frames again, while Zack Wheeler spins four innings or less. Besides, Zach Eflin was between those two lengths, and Ranger Suarez could be too.

Barring exceptions, I will count average frames per release when the caster is no longer on a caster count. Therefore, Nola and Gibson might need one or two rounds, Eflin and Suarez might be there after two or three appearances, and Wheeler might need three or four. And, yes, all clubs have a similar situation.

When it comes to spring stats, most are irrelevant, but there are a few exceptions. The last start, however, is important because mounds don’t work on grounds. No, they treat the final exit differently, so this performance is a good yardstick for the five-man staff moving forward, apparently with the exception of Wheeler.

Phillies Rotation Stats and Pitch Counts:



computer number*


PC 1***

computer number**

Aaron Nola






Kyle Gibson






Zach Eflin






Ranger Suarez




* Number of steps at the last start of the spring.

** Projected step counter for the first or second lap of the rotation.

*** Number of throws of game 1

If Eflin, Suarez or Wheeler need a piggyback pitcher for an inning or two, southpaws Bailey Falter and Christopher Sanchez are there for the role. And they might be able to go three frames and not tax the relief corps: especially the installation men.

When a starter counts a pitch or goes out due to injury or weather, it skews the average innings per opportunity. So, I will note that these contests are not in the total; unless a pitcher, say, makes seven frames after about 70-85 pitches: Gibson is a rare exception.

While many knowledgeable fans judge a starter’s ability by his ERA, they often equate this with all pitch numbers, and unsuccessful appearances are front and center. But some factors point to the opposite. To illustrate, a national site reported Nola’s ERA estimators* were below his 4.63 ERA, and they attributed it to bad luck.

Nola’s ERA estimators:

  • 2021: 3.35 xERA, 3.37 FIP, 3.37 xFIP and a 3.26 SIERA.

Another metric is innings per start, and locals expect 6-7 frames. For many, however, a pitcher’s ERA determines whether he can eat innings consistently. And some think the Fightins should add a starter or two, but they don’t have an answer on who to replace.

2021 Phillies departures:

























* Does not include departures related to season-ending injuries.

** Does not include the shortened exit in case of rain.

***Does not include post-shutdown pitch-count debuts and a health-related exit.

**** Does not include follow-up to an opener.

With the Universal DH, moundsmen trailing one point after six frames with 80 pitches will come back for the seventh. And they won’t tire of chasing bases or fouls a ball from their foot. Ergo, the numbers above will go up. And working with an early lead and attacking juggernaut will also be beneficial.

Despite these factors, negative-minded supporters will look for the lows in a normal up-and-down summer to voice their doubts. Unfortunately, the loudest voices in most games are leather-lunged boobirds. They know their team’s warts and fear the competition.

Although the Phils don’t have a sixth man to replace an injured wing every five days, they have a chance to win every day: no bullpen days. And keep in mind that the Atlanta Braves have three pitchers and three question marks, while the New York Mets now have two with three arms “in the air”: both have better backups.

Assembling a list has limitations for a new front office inheriting organization staff. And the Phillies formula was completing a rotation by trading Spencer Howard for Gibson and also moving Suarez into that role. Then they dramatically increased the offense, signed relievers and mixed in young competitors.

How it works? The offense provides early leads, has a high points-per-game average, and is always a threat to overcome any setbacks. For example, the opposition is either throwing Kyle Schwarber and JT Realmuto or Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos. Basically, it takes the pressure off everyone: relaxed punches kill.

This will make the rotation comfortable with early leads and won’t be afraid to allow a solo home run challenging the opposition. Plus, they’ll take the contest further and limit pen usage, and those arms will be fresh and ready. Moreover, they will not fear being one mistake away from disaster.

While even 92-win clubs lose 70 battles, they have lulls, but they can also win 10 in a row. So enjoy the triumphs, deal with the unwanted results and hope for a healthy squad with replacements for the stars who will miss a few weeks. But avoid extremes!



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