CLEARWATER, Fla. — There will not be much drama as the Phillies finalize their roster after six weeks of spring training as the major decision will be choosing a fifth starter from the handful of arms in the race. But that competition would cease if the Phillies opt to add a pitcher like free agent Jake Arrieta.
“Matt Klentak and I discussed today and he’s looking under every stone to improve our roster and give us a better chance to win baseball games,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “The one thing I would say is that our starting pitching is looking very promising. Obviously, we’ve talked a lot this winter about some of our young pitchers but to be able to get eyeballs on them and see them in the bullpen has made me much more confident that what we need is what we have in the room right now. That’s not to say that we don’t go out and make additions. We still have time to do that. But what we have is pretty exhilarating.”
Arrieta will likely join a team within the next week as camps open across baseball. His cost is high but the Phillies could jump if the asking price lowers. Without a move they will enter the season with Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, and a fifth starter.
Kapler did not know much about his pitchers before this month. He gleaned scouting reports and dove into advanced metrics after being hired, trying to get a feel for his staff. But he found confidence on the backfields of the Carpenter Complex this month as he watched bullpen sessions. The competition is fierce, Kapler said. But is the performance of Velasquez, who has the most electric arm in camp but has yet to tap into it, that impressed him the most.
“Velasquez stands out to me as a guy who looks incredibly healthy and strong,” Kapler said. “[Pitching coach Rick Kranitz] has been raving about his last couple of bullpens, in specific the last one that he threw. You couldn’t wipe the smile off Vince’s face. The stuff was coming out with electricity. He was commanding his pitches. His presence was strong. And again he looked especially healthy and strong.”
Powder blue is back
The Phillies will bring back their powder blue uniforms on select Thursday’s at home this season, the team announced.
The Phillies wore powder blue on the road throughout the 1970s and 1980s and have worn it sparingly since, including last season in Milwaukee. They have worn the color at home just once and swore to never again after losing to Atlanta, 15-3, in 1972. The Phillies also announced that they will honor the 10th anniversary of the 2008 World Series champions on Aug. 5 and the 25th anniversary of the 1993 National League champions on June 10.