The Phillies have been eliminated from the postseason battle for 2019. While that has been the expectation for several weeks, it is still a disappointment for the team and its fans.
It is a setback because the Phillies, coming off a respectable 80-win campaign last season, spent heavily this past winter in building a contending squad.
Some modest strides on offense and some notable improvements on the defensive side of things can be seen.
The Phillies’ pitching is what has failed. The rotation ERA has held steady, and the bullpen ERA has improved in terms of league rank. At the FIP level, things have gone much worse.
FIP (or Fielding Independent Pitching) is estimated to look like ERA but shows just those outcomes that have nothing to do with fielding, i.e., strikeouts, walks, and home runs allowed.
It is what a pitcher’s ERA might look like if you gave him average defensive support and average luck. The major concern for the Phillies lies there, especially in the rotation.
The Phillies bullpen was hurt early and often in 2019. The Phils this season was one of the most injured teams in all of baseball. This was most acutely felt in the bullpen, where seven of their top eight relievers missed significant time. The rotation, though, has no such excuses.
The Phillies will enter the 2020 season with Harper, Segura, Nola, Arrieta, McCutchen, and Scott Kingery under contract, and Realmuto, Hoskins, Eflin, Pivetta, and Velasquez in their team. Those are the compositions of a contender, but Philly ownership will need to invest further in the product.
Right now, Phillies can afford to add at least one impact arm to join Nola at the front of the rotation. Gerrit Cole can be the prize of the free-agent market and should be in the Phillies’ sights. Other options include Stephen Strasburg, Cole Hamels, Zack Wheeler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Jake Odorizzi.