By Sarah Berkowitz
The worst-in-the-majors Phillies are now 28-56, and if they have any chance for a resurgence in the second half of the season their pitchers will have to step up.
Aaron Nola (above) made his third straight quality start with seven shutout innings against the Pirates Monday. Rookie right-handers Nick Pivetta and Ben Lively have shown flashes in the last few weeks, giving the Phillies a chance in many games.
“I think the more we have a little bit of success and keep winning games, I think that’s helping,” said Nola. “I think it helps in the clubhouse and our confidence on the field.”
At the beginning of the season, the starters were having trouble pitching deep into games. Recently, the rotation has gotten the Phillies to the effective back end of the bullpen, which hasn’t been over-used.
Pivetta, the return for closer Jonathan Papelbon a few years ago, is just 2-4 with a 4.85 ERA but he’s gone at least six innings in three of his last four starts.
Phillies starters have a 3.26 ERA over their last 15 games and have given up one or no runs in seven of those starts.
“I think the fact that Pivetta has been pitching well has made an impression and is pushing the other guys, there’s a competition there and its nice to see,” said Mackanin. “If our starting pitching can pitch well, our bullpen will be much improved.”