Tag Archives: Marcus Stroman

NL East Division position comparison: starting pitchers

My evaluation of the National League East Division clubs moves on to ranking the pitching staffs of each team, beginning  with this look at the projected starting rotations. Later today the bullpens of each team will undergo that same evaluation and ranking, concluding the player portion of the process.

For the rotation evaluations, I have listed the projected top four starting pitchers for each team at the beginning of their below write-ups. Those arms make up the primary consideration in their ranking position. During the subsequent discussion, any arms in the running for a fifth-starter slot or who might impact the rotation at some point during the season will be noted.

Combine these pitching rankings with the examinations of each position around the diamond which have been taking place over the last ten days and you will get a good idea of where each team stands entering spring training. Those prior pieces can be viewed through links at the bottom of this article.

Early next week, I will take a look at each club’s manager, giving those skippers the same evaluation and ranking treatment. Pitchers and catchers are due to report to Clearwater, Florida on February 11 for the opening of Phillies spring training.


  1. Washington Nationals: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Anibal Sanchez

The defending world champions have the clear top three starting pitchers in the division, perhaps in all of baseball. However, a note of caution. That run to the first World Series title in franchise history put an extra month of wear and tear on those arms. Washington would not be the first team to find that becomes a difference maker in the following season. The Nats have a trio of interesting arms vying for the fifth starter role in Joe Ross, Erick Fedde, and Austin Voth. If those three can prove ready to handle more of the starting workload, it would allow the Nationals to baby Scherzer and Strasburg along a bit during the summer.

2) New York Mets: Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Wacha

No team in the division has the potential to match the Nationals top three arms more than the Mets top trio. Syndergaard and Stroman in particular could elevate their games to another level. The real difference makers in the end in determining whether the Mets contend in the 2020 season is more likely to come from the back-end arms of Wacha and Rick Porcello. Beyond that, Steven Matz and Robert Gsellman give New York quality depth options. If Syndergaard and Stroman don’t have that extra level or break down physically, the Mets could easily slide down these rankings by one or two slots. For now, I like their talent.

3) Atlanta Braves: Mike Soroka, Mike Foltynewicz, Max Fried, Cole Hamels

The addition of the veteran Hamels to what was  a very youthful group could prove to be the smartest addition by any team in the division this off-season. The two-time division champion Braves also purchased a lottery ticket in former AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez. Atlanta has an exciting group of young arms fighting for rotation roles beyond that in Kyle Wright, Sean Newcomb, Bryse Wilson, and Ian Anderson. The Braves quality young depth gives them a far better chance to weather injuries to any of their projected top starters than any other team in the division. It also gives them some potential trade chips to fill in any holes during the season.

4) Philadelphia Phillies: Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin

The Phillies are fine at the top two spots with Nola and Wheeler. Beyond that will come the pitchers whose performances will ultimately determine whether the Phillies can finally contend for a postseason spot in 2020. Can Arrieta stay healthy? He has given the club strong April-May performances the last two years, only to break down physically each year. Can Eflin elevate his game to become a truly effective big-league mid-rotation starter? Even if the Phillies get positive answers to these two questions, they have more questions beyond that than any of the clubs ranked above them here. Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Cole Irvin, and possibly Enyel De Los Santos will battle for the fifth starter role to open the season. However, top pitching prospect Spencer Howard should be ready to impact the rotation by May or June.

5) Miami Marlins: Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith, Pablo Lopez, Jordan Yamamoto

Alcantara is not as well known to most fans as the other top arms in the division but he has legitimate talent and can be a part of the Fish rotation for years to come. Smith is a solid arm who generally keeps them in contention during his starts. Top prospect Sixto Sanchez should be ready to join the rotation at some point this summer. The Marlins have a further trio or arms in righty Edward Cabrera and lefties Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers who will be starting off in the minors, but who, like Sanchez, will be hoping to push for rotation spots later in the summer.



As 2019 countdown reaches eight, Phillies remain in postseason hunt

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Phillies need Bryce Harper to play like a superstar to reach playoffs

Our weekly countdown towards the end of the 2019 Major League Baseball regular season now reaches ‘8’ – just eight more weeks left for the Philadelphia Phillies as they attempt to return to the postseason for the first time in eight years.

The Phillies are coming off another disheartening weekend, one in which the club dropped two of three to the lowly Chicago White Sox, owners of the seventh-worst record in MLB even after winning the series.
Still, the Fightin’ Phils remain tied with the division-rival Washington Nationals for the second National League Wildcard playoff berth at the moment. Those two have just one more loss than the Saint Louis Cardinals, who currently control the top Wildcard spot. Two are available.
Three more teams are right behind the Phillies and Nationals, all in the race still. But the real threat may be coming from a team that was way back just a few weeks ago.
Another NL East rival, the New York Mets, have won 15 of their last 20 games to move within a game of the .500 mark and within three games in the Wildcard race. Having obtained Marcus Stroman at the MLB trade deadline, the Mets may have the best starting pitching among all the teams still in the hunt.
This current winning streak from New York makes them one of three teams from the division to get hot over a lengthy stretch. The Braves won 28 of 38 between June 1 and July 15 to take over the division lead. After a horrendous start, the Nats went 36-15 pver two full months from May 24 to July 24.
The Phillies are the only team to have no such streak this season. The club has won as many as four in a row on four different occasions, the last more than a month ago in late June. The saving grace for the Phillies is that they have largely avoided fully tanking. From May 30 to June 24, the club lost 16 of 22. Outside of that, they have just two streaks of as many as three losses in a row all season long.
Can the Phillies take their turn, and go on a true winning spurt? If so, they not only would likely open up some distance in the Wildcard race, but they would get back into the hunt for a division crown. Do they have another big losing downturn in them? If so, they drop out of things, much as what happened with the 2018 ball club. Or maybe they simply tread water all year long. That might be the outcome which causes more angina and hair loss among the fan base than any other.
The following are the division and Wildcard standings with this week’s schedules in parentheses:


  1. Atlanta Braves 66-47 (at MIN – 3, at MIA – 4)
  2. Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals 58-53 (Phillies: at ARZ – 3, at SF – 4)


  1. Saint Lous Cardinals 58-52 (at LAD – 3, PIT – 3)
  2. Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals 58-53 (Nats: at SF – 3, at NYM – 3)
  3. Milwaukee Brewers 57-56 (at PIT – 3, TEX – 3)
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants 56-56 (Dbacks: PHI – 3, at LAD – 3) / (SF: WAS – 3, PHI – 4)
  5. New York Mets 55-56 (MIA – 4, WAS – 3)

Phillies have a number of potential starting pitching trade targets this summer

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Marcus Stroman is a major trade chip for Blue Jays

Like pretty much every other legitimate contending team in Major League Baseball, the 2019 Philadelphia Phillies could really use another solid veteran pitcher to bolster their starting rotation.

The top four starters for the club this season have been Aaron NolaJake ArrietaZach Eflin, and Nick Pivetta. The Phillies have also given regular turns to Jerad Eickhoff to this point, and just recently finally made the long-anticipated move of flipping Vince Velasquez to the bullpen.
When emergencies have cropped up, 25-year-old lefty Cole Irvin has been given three starts. Manager Gabe Kapler even turned to Jose Alvarez as an “opener” in one game, using the veteran lefty for the first two innings and then bringing in Irvin to cover nearly four frames on June 1 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
In most of the Phillies recent seasons, Eickhoff would deserve more of a chance. And he will continue in the rotation as long as he remains healthy and doesn’t completely implode. Having allowed four earned runs or more in half of his 2019 starts, Eickhoff would likely be the odd man out if general manager Matt Klentak was able to bring a solid option in to bolster the rotation.
But is such an arm actually out there and available? In evaluating the landscape in Major League Baseball, there would appear to be a number of such options. Their skills and experience levels are wide-ranging. It could be arguable as to whether a couple of them would be a legitimate upgrade.
These 10 arms seem to be the best possibilities for a trade to the Phillies. Many of them will absolutely find themselves putting on the uniform of a new team prior to the July 31 MLB trade deadline. You can bet that Klentak has already been considering most, if not all, of these pitchers, and has perhaps already been engaging in some preliminary negotiations.
Each pitcher is listed with their their team, “handedness”, age, and 2019 statistics through games of June 8. Also shown is their current contract status.
Trevor Bauer (28/CLE/RHP): 4-6, 3.93 ERA, 1.156 WHIP, 66 hits allowed over 91.2 IP across 14 starts with a 103/40 K:BB. Contract moved from $6.25 million last year to $13 million this year through arbitration. He is again arbitration-eligible for the 2020 season, after which he is due to become a free agent at age 29.
Madison Bumgarner (29/SF/LHP): 3-5, 4.05 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 80 hits allowed over 80 IP across 13 starts with a 79/16 K:BB. He turns 30-year-old on August 1, and will be a free agent after this season. Currently making $12 million in the final season of an eight-year deal worth just north of $58 million total.
Andrew Cashner (32/BAL/RHP): 6-2, 4.73 ERA, 1.379 WHIP, 71 hits over 70.1 IP across 13 starts with a 51/26 K:BB. The least attractive arm on this list, but perhaps also the least expensive from the perspective of what you would have to give up. Making $9.5 mill this year, $10 mill option for next year is guaranteed if he reaches 187 innings this season, which is not likely. If not, he becomes a free agent after this season, so the commitment is also short-term.
Zack Greinke (35/ARZ/RHP): 7-2, 2.87 ERA, 0.935 WHIP, 68 hits over 87.2 IP across 14 starts with an 82/14 K:BB. Did you realize Greinke was already 35-years-old? Good for you, because I thought he was about three years younger before researching this piece. He is owed $35 mill in each of the next two seasons. His performance has shown no signs of slipping over the last few years. Can he actually remain an All-Star caliber ace for two more? That would be the big bet.

Lefty Mike Minor of the Texas Rangers will be a hot commodity as the 2019 MLB trade deadline approaches. (Keith Allison)
Mike Leake (31/SEA/RHP): 5-6, 4.30 ERA, 1.273 WHIP, 88 hits over 81.2 IP across 13 starts with a 56/16 K:BB. Along with Cashner, he isn’t going to elicit excitement in the fan base. But Leake is a steady, reliable, experienced starting pitcher who got a start in the 2014 NLDS for the Cincinnati Reds. He will earn $15 mill next year, with $4 of that paid by Saint Louis. He has a 2021 mutual option for $18 million with a $5 mill buyout.
Mike Minor (31/TEX/LHP): 5-4, 2.55 ERA, 1.217 WHIP, 73 hits over 81.1 IP across 13 starts with an 87/26 K:BB. The southpaw is owed $9.83 mill for next season and then is due to become a free agent. After missing most of the 2015 season and all of 2016 following shoulder surgery, Minor came back in 2017 as a reliever with Kansas City. Texas signed him as a free agent, moved him back into the rotation where he began his career in Atlanta, and he has looked strong.
Tanner Roark (32/CIN/RHP): 4-5, 3.74 ERA, 1.411 WHIP, 68 hits over 67.1 IP across 13 starts with a 69/27 K:BB. He will become a free agent after this season, in which he is being paid just $10 million. The ultimate pure rental.
Aaron Sanchez (26/TOR/RHP): 3-7, 4.25 ERA, 1.542 WHIP, 71 hits over 72 IP across 14 starts with a 61/40 K:BB. The youngest and cheapest salaried arm on this list is making $3.9 mill this year and arbitration-eligible next season, after which he can become a free agent. What is Sanchez? Starter or reliever? Sort of a Velasquez-type situation. Do the Phillies want to get involved in that again? Do they believe he can be more?
Marcus Stroman (28/TOR/RHP): 3-8, 3.31 ERA, 1.322 WHIP, 80 hits over 81.2 IP across 14 starts with a 63/28 K:BB. Making $7.4 million, eligible for arbitration next season, and then up for his first possible taste of free agency. Stroman is one of the more intriguing options out there and will be highly sought at this year’s deadline. The Jays could wait until the off-season or even into next year before making a deal, so the cost in trade to add a talented arm in his prime would be high.
Zack Wheeler (29/NYM/RHP): 5-3, 4.61 ERA, 1.226 WHIP, 78 hits over 84 innings across 13 starts with a 93/25 K:BB. Pending free agent would be a great candidate for a trade-for-and-extend deal for the Phillies. However, his being on the market at all would require the Mets falling totally out of the race, so it wouldn’t happen until after the MLB All-Star break in all likelihood, if at all. Even then, would the Mets deal him inside the division? Sure, if the Phillies paid the right price. Tough one. Would probably have to give up good prospects, with no guarantee beyond the last 2-3 months of this season.