2019 Statline: 93 ⅔ IP, 13 GS, 4-6 Record, 5.38 ERA, 5.47 FIP, 1.52 WHIP, 9.9 H/9, 1.92 HR/9, 3.75 BB/9, 8.55 K/9, 0.0 fWAR
2019 Season in Review
Heading into the 2019 season, right-handed pitcher Nick Pivetta was one of the players that held the most promise for the Philadelphia Phillies. After a few flashy performances in 2018 where Pivetta showed his front-of-rotation potential, he was widely considered one of Major League Baseball’s leading breakout candidates. With the Phillies set to play on Sunday Night Baseball in the first series of the season, then-manager Gabe Kapler saved the experienced Jake Arrieta for the third game of the season. That left Pivetta to start the second game of the season for the Phillies, a billing he struggled to live up to in 2019.
After four starts in the 2019 season, Pivetta had allowed five home runs and 31 hits in just 18 ⅓ innings. He was optioned down to the minor leagues and was replaced by Jerad Eickhoff on April 17.
He seemed to get back to his form in the minors, striking out 14 in a 6-5 win over the Triple-A Buffalo Bison. His hot streak continued when he came back up to reclaim his starting position. Over his first five games back, Pivetta averaged a 3.13 ERA over 31 ⅓ innings and allowed only seven runs and 11 walks while striking out 29. Pivetta demonstrated his potential to the Phillies with his performance on June 8 against the Cincinnati Reds when he pitched all nine innings, allowing only six hits, one run and no walks.
In those five games, the Phillies saw his full potential, but he began to falter again and never really recovered. He was taken out of the rotation in July and sent to the bullpen. Although he had some successful outings as a reliever, he never earned his spot back in the rotation. Pivetta’s struggles continued through to the end of the season.
2020 Season Preview
As a result of his disappointing performance in the 2019 season, Pivetta has been left to fight for a place in the starting rotation in 2020. Right-handed pitchers Aaron Nola, Zach Wheeler and the aforementioned Arrieta have secured their spots leaving two open for Pivetta, and right-handed pitchers Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez.
In spring training this year we got a preview of what each pitcher could do. Pivetta pitched in three games, totaling 7 ⅔ innings with an 8.22 ERA. He struck out 10 batters and allowed 10 hits, seven runs and four walks. Eflin and Velasquez had similar stats. With Coronavirus disrupting the start of the season there is no way to tell how important spring training performances will be in deciding the rotation and big league roster.
Velasquez and Eflin could fill in the rest of the rotation, leaving Pivetta in the bullpen to continue on the team as a reliever. The Phillies would likely keep him on the roster as a way to create competition for the rotation spots and boost the performances of those on the bubble of losing their position.
No. 1 overall prospect Spencer Howard is also expected to make his major league debut at some point in 2020. With COVID-19 having delayed the start of the season, it’s possible that he factors into the rotation picture quicker than expected, making it more difficult for Pivetta to get a shot in the starting rotation.
When the season begins, the Phillies will hope that Pivetta can be a consistent contributor: whether in the bullpen or in the rotation.
Check out our previous 2020 Season Previews
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