The Phillies entered camp with much of the season-opening roster in place. The biggest storyline was the battle for the final rotation spot. The Phils have consistently maintained top pitching prospect Andrew Painter would be given a legitimate chance to claim the job even though he won’t turn 20 until next month.
Those plans were seemingly put on hold last week, as the hard-throwing young righty reported some discomfort in his elbow. The Phils sent Painter for further examination. The club has yet to provide many specifics, though Todd Zolecki of MLB.com wrote yesterday that the team has not received any indication Painter could require surgical repair. It seems the current expectation is Painter will be able to rest and rehab but that won’t be officially known until orthopedic surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache has an opportunity to review the young hurler’s medicals.
Even if Painter avoids going under the knife, the issue certainly diminishes his chances of cracking the majors out of camp. That’d point towards left-hander Bailey Falter securing the final rotation spot behind Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Ranger Suárez and Taijuan Walker. Falter started 16 of 20 appearances last season, pitching to a 3.86 ERA in 84 frames. The 25-year-old had an average 21.2% strikeout rate and excellent 4.9% walk percentage to support that solid run prevention. The home run ball was a bit of an issue for the fly-ball specialist, but Falter showed enough to suggest he could be a viable back-of-the-rotation option.
Falter addressed his role with reporters this week, indicating he’s not much concerned with where the club deploys him. “As long as I’m one of those 26 guys (on the active roster), I’ll do whatever they want me to do,” he said (link via Alex Coffey of the Philadelphia Inquirer). Falter has a decent amount of experience in the relief corps as well, coming out of the bullpen 21 times in 22 outings during his rookie season two years ago.
Aside from Falter and Painter, southpaw Cristopher Sánchez perhaps represents the top option for the fifth rotation spot. Zolecki notes that manager Rob Thomson has named righty Nick Nelson as another starting candidate. Nelson has only started four big league games and none of those appearances lasted more than two innings as opener work. He worked primarily in a multi-inning relief capacity last season, his first in Philadelphia. Nelson threw 68 2/3 innings over 47 outings, pitching to a 4.85 ERA with a 22.5% strikeout rate and 11.8% walk percentage.
How far off is Mick Abel?
The longer we get no news on Painter the more worried I get..
I assume Boras is controlling the narrative to some extent. Giddiness has turned into apprehension. Baseball is baseball and injuries are part of our game.
When you have a pitcher of this nature, stress management is paramount, or else you end up like Strasburg. King Felix, Steve Avery,..et all. Coming up early throwing hard before your body is fully matured. Then dealing with injuries that are irreparable.
I’m sure 99% of pitchers would sign up for any of the three pitchers careers you listed.
Boy, sure would hate to have the 50 WAR career of King Felix. Too bad all that irreparable damage led to 7 straight 200 inning seasons, otherwise he could have been a true workhorse.
They should have probably never told him he had a shot at the rotation ahead of Spring Training. He was probably trying to overthrow to impress them and got hurt. Who knows though
Backup Catcher to the Backup Catcher
Assuming no surgery is needed for Painter, I believe the first time we might see him at CBP won’t be until July. Rest and rehab will take time. Then, once deemed healthy, he’ll have to be built up to bear a starter’s workload.
Whatever the scenario, the Phillies hopes in the NL East will largely hinge on how soon Bryce harper can get back. We’re in deep doo-doo if success or failure comes down to who becomes our #5 starting pitcher.
I see 90 wins and a playoff spot in my crystal ball. Where those 90 wins place us in the NL East is an unknown, but it shouldn’t be a repeat of last year’s 14 GB.
90 wins might get you more then 14 back. The Mets and Braves are loaded.
The Mets and Braves are not winning 105 games
I see the Mets, Braves and Phillies all between 91-96 wins.
Did you think they would win 101 each last year?
the Phillies hopes in the NL East will largely hinge on how soon Bryce harper can get back.
It might also depend on Wheeler He was dinged up at the end of 2022, and not looking good in ST. It’s probably nothing, but worth considering.
Why is Nick Nelson ever being mentioned as an option? Please no. No no no.
TB 27 is still out there.