By Sam Bush
According to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, the Phillies believe their one-two punch pitching rotation with Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler (above), who signed a five-year, $118 million contract in December will hold them in good stead.
Jake Arrieta should be healthy following surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow late last season. He should be motivated entering the final season of a three-year, $75 million contract.
The Phillies insist Zach Eflin is competing for one of the final two jobs in the rotation, but he enters camp as a favorite over Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta and others. He simply has pitched better than any of them the previous two seasons.
The No. 5 job is up for grabs. Velasquez and Pivetta both have tremendous stuff but have been unable to tap into that potential consistently over the years. It is why many believe the Phillies should have acquired at least one more veteran starter for the spring. The runner-up in Velasquez-Pivetta battle is expected to join the bullpen. Also in the mix for the No. 5 job, according to Zolecki, are left-handers Ranger Suárez and Cole Irvin.
Rotation if the season started today:
1) Aaron Nola
2) Zack Wheeler
3) Jake Arrieta
4) Zach Eflin
5) Vince Velasquez