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May 05, 2022

Phillies starting pitcher confidence meter (after five starts apiece)

After an ugly start, the starters appear to be rounding into form

Every Phillies starter has now had five chances to pitch this season, and after a brutally ugly start, they appear to be rounding into form.

The five starters have combined for a 3.98 ERA — which is relatively pretty bad (18th in MLB) but is much improved after they had an ERA north of 6 after two times through the rotation. The team is losing games due to a lack of timely hitting and a few isolated bullpen issues, not due to solid starting pitching, which is something at least.

How much confidence should Phillies fans have in each of their starting hurlers when they take the mound each week? Here's our latest rankings with things trending in the right direction for most of the arms in question.

(Note: Each player's rating is based on a 1-10 scale of how confident we feel when they take the mound for a start so far this season)

1. Zack Wheeler

4.10 ERA, 26.1 IP, 1.253 WHIP, 25 K

Confidence: 8/10

In his first three starts — following a very truncated spring training due to illness and some lingering injuries — the Cy Young runner up allowed 12 runs in 12.2 innings pitched. His velocity was down and he just didn't look like his All-Star self. However he's completely flipped the script in his last two outings. Combining for 13.2 scoreless innings, Wheeler has been light's out, striking out 14 hitters in that span and lowering his ERA by more than four runs. The ace looks like he is back. 

2. Aaron Nola

3.90 ERA, 27.2 IP, 0.940 WHIP, 34 K

Confidence: 7/10

Nola has been surprisingly consistent this season and his last three starts have been really good — even though he has not earned a win since Opening Day. On April 18 he allowed two runs in 5.1 innings, and five games later pitched seven scoreless frames. In his most recent start, Nola allowed three runs in six frames, and in each of his last two trips to the mound he's struck out nine batters. He has received one run or less of support in three of his starts this season.

3. Kyle Gibson

2.93 ERA, 27.2 IP, 1.084 WHIP, 26 K

Confidence: 6/10 

Gibson has been the Phillies' best starter statistically through 25 games, but he is 34 years old and a reversion to the norm — 4.44 career ERA (and 80-84 record) — seems likely, eventually. But the Phillies will surely take a consistent five-ish innings and three-ish runs allowed for as long as his above-average performance continues. 

4. Zach Eflin

4.50 ERA, 24 IP, 1.292 WHIP, 18 K

Confidence: 5/10

Eflin is coming back from an injury suffered last year and he has been just okay so far. He pitched six innings of one-run baseball against the Rockies last week, but followed that up with six runs surrendered to the Mets in his most recent opportunity. Eflin has shown in his career he can be a solid top three starter, but he'll have to find his footing this year to instill confidence again.

5. Ranger Suarez

4.63 ERA, 23.1 IP, 1.629 WHIP, 15 K

Confidence: 3/10

Suarez won a starting role with stellar pitching down the stretch last season, but he has been unable to recreate that magic in his sophomore campaign. He's allowed the most hits of anyone on the team — 28 — and his strikeout to walk ratio — 15-to-10 — leaves a lot to be desired. He isn't pitching so bad that his job is in jeopardy, but if the Phillies are close to contention in July, the front office could be shopping for an upgrade in this rotation spot.

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