Latest On Phillies’ Rotation Competition
The Phillies entered camp with much of the season-opening roster. The biggest plot was the fight for the last rotation spot. The Phils have consistently maintained top-pitching prospects Andrew Painter would be given a legitimate chance to claim the job despite not turning 20 until next month.
Those plans were apparently put on hold last week when the hard-throwing young right-hander reported some discomfort in his elbow. The Phils sent Painter to investigate further. The club has yet to release many details, although MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki wrote yesterday that the team has received no indication that Painter may need a surgical repair. It appears that the current expectation is that Painter will be able to rest and rehabilitate, but that will not be officially known until orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache has the opportunity to review the young hurler’s medical care.
Even if Painter avoids going under the knife, the problem certainly reduces his chances of getting the majors out of camp. That would indicate left-handers Bailey Falter Securing the last rotation point behind Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Ranger Suarez And Taijuan Walker. Falter started in 16 of 20 appearances last season and posted a 3.86 ERA in 84 frames. The 25-year-old had an average strikeout rate of 21.2% and an excellent walk percentage of 4.9% to back up that solid running prevention. The home run ball was a bit of a problem for the flyball specialist, but Falter showed enough to suggest it could be a viable option for the back of the rotation.
Falter addressed his role with reporters this week and hinted he doesn’t care much where the club puts him. “As long as I’m one of those 26 guys (on the active list) I’ll do whatever they want me to do” he said (link via Alex Coffey of the Philadelphia Inquirer). Falter also has a decent amount of experience in the Auxiliary Corps, coming off the bullpen 21 times in 22 games during his rookie season two years ago.
Apart from Falter and Maler, southpaw Christopher Sanchez represents perhaps the top pick for the fifth rotation spot. Zolecki notes that manager Rob Thomson called Righty Nick Nelson as another starting candidate. Nelson has only started four major league games and none of those appearances lasted more than two innings of opener work. He worked primarily in a multi-inning relief capacity last season, his first in Philadelphia. Nelson threw 68 2/3 innings over 47 outings and posted a 4.85 ERA with a 22.5% strikeout rate and 11.8% walk percentage.