The Phillies are stuck in a transition phase when it comes to their starting rotation.
They aren't quite turning the page, ready to rely on young and upcoming pitching — but they also aren't relying on a staff of wry old veterans.
With Jeremy Hellickson and Clay Buchholzanchoring the Phils' rotation, a slew of unproven but high potential youngsters like Aaron Nola, Jared Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez rounding out the starters, many project the Phillies to be a solid pitching team.
However, spring training results implied otherwise.
Five of the seven pitchers to start a game in March (not including Jake Thompson and Nick Pivetta)have an ERA higher than 4.26. Starters sport a 3-10 record in the spring and struggles have been apparent across the board.
Aaron Nola, a recent first round pick, has a 6.62 ERA having allowed 13 runs in 17.2 innings pitched. Alec Asher, Eickhoff and Buchholz(who allowed three runs in three and a third innings Sunday)haven't been much better, as the club's 4.74 ERA is 18th in the majors.
The opening day starter, Hellickson, is looking a little more like a seasoned pro after a strong outing Friday against the Yankees where he tossed six and a third innings of one-run, five-hit baseball. He'll need that momentum in two weeks when he takes the mound in Cincinnati to open the regular season.
"It's a huge honor again," the 29-year-old said."I am excited for it, it's going tobe a funatmosphere."
As for the younger staff, there will be growing pains. The young talented pitching prospects — whether in Triple-A or elsewhere — will be looking up at Hellickson and the other big leaguers to lead by example. The youngsters have shown much maturity, especially as they stress the need to be patient.
"The Phillies have stressed a winning culture with this organization and the younger guys will drive toward that," said Pivetta, who shined for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic."Everybody wants to win and everybody wants to succeed. It takes time but we are going to get there."