The biggest weakness in a team with a lot of weaknesses, is the Phillies are missing their 5th starter. They have tried more pitchers than I can even count, and we are only in June. The Phillies will need to figure out what they will do with their 5th spot soon, or they are in deep trouble.
There are 3 options. Internal candidates on the Phillies, calling someone up from the minors, or looking for a pitcher via the trade market.
There is only one option on the Phillies who can fill that 5th starter role, and that is Matt Strahm. He was signed this off-season as a reliver from the Red Sox, and due to the injury to Ranger Suarez, he made some starts in his place. He was a short time this season, was the Phillies best pitcher. Between his relief and starting appearances, he is 4-3 with a 3.2 ERA, 52 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.04.
His stats are not outstanding, but for a 5th starting pitcher, he will do just fine. Strahm is not going to be a guy who gives you 8-9 innings. He has done a really good job of getting to the 4th and 5th inning and putting the Phillies in a position to win the ball game.
The team does not need to get an ace as their 5th starter, they need to find a pitcher who can put them in a position to win the ballgame, and a guy who the bullpen will not be put into an immediate jam.
Calling someone up from the Minor Leagues.
I will get the 3 obvious names out of the way first.
Andrew Painter-Has not pitched in 2023 after being shut down in Spring Training. He has not started pitching bullpen sessions yet. If he is healthy by August, he will be assigned to AA and hopefully promoted to AAA by the end of the season. He will be in contention for a starting spot in 2024.
Mick Abel- He has been the best pitcher in the Phillies organization from the MLB all the way to Low-A. He should be promoted to AAA soon. If he dominates AAA, like how he is dominating AA, then a possible call-up could be in his future, but right now he is not ready for the MLB.
Griff McCarry- He is returning from injury, and he looks very sharp. He could get a promotion very soon, but just like Abel, he is not ready for the MLB. Check back in 2024!
There are 2 options in AAA that should get a shot. Christopher Sanchez was also in contention for the 5th starter spot, but an early injury kept him in AAA after rehab starts. Just last week he started 2 games, 2 wins, 11 innings, 9 strikeouts, 8 hits, and 3 earned runs. He has the MLB experience, and he looks a lot better than he did last year. Don't get fooled by his previous starts in 2022, Sanchez is a much better pitcher, and looks very ready to go.
The other option is Noak Skirrow. He has been the best and most consistent pitcher in AAA. So far in 2023, he has pitched in 9 games, 4-1, 5.82 ERA, 31K, 15BB. He is not a guy who is going to strikeout a lot of players, but he gets the outs. He has great command of the box and when he is on the mound, the IronPigs are always in a position to win the game when he exits.
Sanchez is part of the 40-man roster, while Skirrow is not. However, they are the only two options for call-ups for the Phillies 5th starter spot in the minor leagues.
I have 3 names that fans should keep an eye on and why. No, Shohei Ohtani is not one. Yes, I would love to have a generational player on the Phillies, but the cost for a rental is not worth it.
Shane Bieber- Cleveland Guardians.
Bieber has been linked to the Phillies in recent days. The former Cy-Young award winner may not be available via trade, but the Guardians could look to move him at this year's deadline. He is going to be a free agent at the end of 2024, so the Phillies would get a year and a half with him. He has a low ERA this season, but his overall stats have been down, but for a 5th starter he is perfect.
Corbin Burnes- Milwaukee Brewers
If the Brewers start to fall apart, I believe they will be sellers at this year's trade deadline. Talks about a contract extension between the Brewers and Burnes ended this offseason, so the team could look to part ways. He is under contract for 2024 as well. So the Phillies would not get a rental, they would get a season and a half with Burnes.
Lucas Giolito- Chicago White Sox
The soon to be free agent is going to be the biggest pitcher on this year's market. He has really elevated his game from 2022 and his performances have proven that. If the Phillies do trade for him, he would be a rental as he is expected to secure a large contract this offseason.
The Phillies need to fix their rotation. Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, and Taijuan Walker are the current starters, but not winning every 5th game, due to the lack of starter is inexcusable. We do not need an ace, we do not need a pitcher who will go 8-9 innings every game. We need a pitcher who will put the team in a position to win 80-90% of the time.
The only names that should get the opportunity are Matt Strahm, Christopher Sanchez, and Noah Skirrow. All 3 of them will put the Philies in a position to win. When looking for a 5th starter, the club needs to know that the bullpen will be involved in those games, but whoever win the job, they will need to put both the bullpen and offense in a position to win the game.