Three things the Phillies need to address this month

Jake Arrieta could miss some time with a bone spur
There's still plenty of summer left for the Phillies to make a legitimate run at a postseason berth, but for that to happen there are several question marks in need of an answer. Listed below are three major storylines that will likely impact the final three months of the season.

The Starting Rotation
Aaron Nola seems to have found himself as of late and has looked excellent over the last month, but behind him, the starting rotation is nothing more than question marks. Combined, Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta, and Jake Arrieta have posted a 5.79 ERA over the past month. Vince Velasquez is in the fifth spot, virtually by default, and has a 5.94 ERA over that same span.

To compete, the Phillies desperately need to add another arm or two to the rotation. Preferably, one with experience pitching meaningful games in September and October. Arrieta's veteran presence in the rotation is negated right now by his downward trend and the fact he's dealing with a bone spur in his throwing elbow and may land on the injured list at any time.

There's little on the farm that'll help right now, so this is an area the club likely will have to look outside the organization to address.

Limit the Longball
Homers are up throughout baseball, but the Phillies' pitching staff is on a record-setting pace to allow nearly 300 dingers this year. It's a problem that has plagued every pitcher in the rotation with Nick Pivetta surrendering nine over the last month and Zach Eflin five. Last year, the entire Phillies' staff surrendered 171 home runs, meaning the club is on pace to surrender 100 more this season.

Breaking down the figures further, the Phillies' pitching staff is surrendering a hard contact rate of 40.6%, the sixth-highest mark in the league, and 1.72 homers per nine innings, the fourth highest figure in baseball. It goes without saying that these figures have to improve should the club look to compete. For reference, two of the three teams that have a worse homer per nine innings figure are two of the worst teams in baseball this year - the Orioles and the Mariners.



The Bench
Jay Bruce has been solid since joining the Phillies, but he was acquired originally to be a bench piece. Now that he's been put into the starting nine, the Phils bench consists primarily of Brandon Miller, Roman Quinn, Andrew Knapp, and Sean Rodriguez. Combined, the four are hitting (192-for-35) .182 on the season.

The bench is an area that all good teams need to rely on late in the season. Given the output to date, this is also an area of a concern that the Phillies should look at addressing as the trade deadline approaches.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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