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July 12, 2023

Grading the Phillies' pitching staff at the All-Star Break

How do the Phillies pitchers measure up after the season's first half?

The Phillies have a little time off before the second half of the 2023 regular season restarts again, which gives us some time to take a break and look at their first half performance.

The pitching staff was really rough at the start of the year, but it settled down a bit and has been a decent unit for most of the year so far. The fifth starter issue was one that really brought frustration and confusion to fans, as Bailey Falter and then a slew of bullpen pitchers essentially put the Phillies in the loss column once every five days.

As the team ponders whether it should trade prospects for pitching help at the August 1 trade deadline, let's hand out some grades to the arms that defined the first half of the year.

First, a glance at the pitchers as a whole and how they stacked up:

CategoryStatMLB Rank
Team ERA4.0613th
SP ERA4.2513th
RP ERA3.789th
Total strikeouts8199th
Batting avg against.24313th
Save %76%3rd

We already graded the hitters, you can see their report card here. And now, let's grade the pitching staff:

Aaron Nola: C

8-6, 4.39 ERA in 19 starts

Nola has been disappointing by his typically ace-like standards this season, posting mostly average numbers. He has given up a ton of home runs, as his 21 allowed are more than all of last season already and the second most in all of baseball. He has the second most innings pitched this season and is in the top 15 in strikeouts — there is some good stuff there — but he's gotta limit his damaging innings.

Zack Wheeler: C+

7-4, 4.05 ERA in 18 starts

The story with Wheeler is similar to Nola. We know what Wheeler is capable of, and he's been just a little off this season. His strikeout to walk rate — 5.41 — is fantastic and a lot of the numbers suggest he's a little better than his 4.05 ERA signifies. 

Taijuan Walker: B

10-3, 4.02 ERA in 18 starts

Anyone who has 10 wins in 18 games deserves some attention, and Walker has been light's out recently — even getting an invite to the All-Star Game, which he declined (he had plans). He had a 1.50 ERA in six June starts. The Phillies look smart to have signed him this offseason.

Ranger Suarez: B

2-4, 3.77 ERA in 11 starts

After a slow start, as he was shaky coming off the injured list in late spring, Suarez has mostly rounded into form. The Phillies top four pitchers are as solid as any team in baseball.

Bailey Falter: D

0-7, 5.13 ERA in 7 starts

Falter was not long for the majors, as he was demoted, perhaps after too many chances. His absence has created a bit of a fifth starter crisis, though it seems the team may have found at least a makeshift solution there...

Cristopher Sanchez: A-

0-2, 2.84 ERA in 5 starts

It's hard to argue with just eight earned runs over five starts, and 22 strikeouts to four walks. It will be interesting to see if the lefty can keep it up.

Craig Kimbrel: A

5-1, 3.41 ERA, 14/14 saves

Kimbrel was an All-Star and with good reason. He has been perfect in save situations and has allowed just one run over his most recent 17 appearances. The Phillies have a reliable closer.

Matt Strahm: B+

5-3, 3.74 ERA in 9 starts, 17 relief appearances

Strahm's numbers are good — but he's also getting graded on a curve because he's just been a Swiss Army Knife for the Phillies this season. He started a bunch of games early on and did very well at that, before being moved to the bullpen where he's been everything from a mop up guy to an end of game reliever.

Gregory Soto: C

2-4, 4.32 ERA in 38 games

Soto and his thunderous fastball have been hit or miss this season. His strikeout and walk rates leave some to be desired, though he has only given up two homers in 33.1 innings.

Connor Brogdon: C

2-1, 4.03 ERA in 27 games

Brogdon is in the minors now, he was sent down due to a numbers game when Jose Alvarado got healthy. 

Seranthony Dominguez: C-

1-2, 4.33 ERA in 32 games

Currently on the injured list, Dominguez hasn't had his best stuff this season. He'll return soon once his oblique muscle is healed.

Andrew Vasquez: A

2-0, 1.70 ERA in 26 games

Seemingly out of nowhere, the 29-year-old journeyman has been arguably the best arm out of the pen for the Phillies this season. He's allowed just seven earned runs in 37 innings.

Jose Alvarado: B+

1.38 ERA in 26 games

The Phillies' ace lefty reliever is only short of an A-grade because he's been unable to stay healthy. He was put on the IL this week with an elbow injury for the second time.

Yunior Marte: D+

0-1, 5.32 ERA in 24 games

Marte is just a body in the pen at this point. With injury issues, Marte will need to show improvement as he'll have an opportunity for a bit with some key arms hurt.

Jeff Hoffman: A

2-1, 2.53 ERA in 19 games

Yet another sweet success story, Hoffman is breaking through in his age 30 season.

Seven other relievers, ranging from Andrew Bellatti to Kody Clemens have pitched out of the pen this season. None of them have tossed more than 15 innings.

Starting Pitcher GPA: 2.50 (B-)

Relief Pitcher GPA: 2.84 (B)

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