By Joseph Santoliquito


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The decision has already been made. It was actually made Thursday, February 28 when the Phillies signed superstar Bryce Harper to the most lucrative contract in Philadelphia sports history.

Now, it’s up to the Phillies to follow through with their “all-in” approach.

They went all-in to get Harper, but are they willing to do that with a pitching staff and relief corps that appears to be leaking already and April isn’t even through yet?

The Phillies are 11-7 entering the weekend, one game atop the National League East, with a team ERA of 4.53, which ranks 18th overall in MLB. Opponents are hitting .267 against Phils’ pitching, which ranks even lower among MLB teams, at 27.

Only Texas (.269), the New York Mets (.273) and Baltimore (.282) are worse. Phillies’ pitching has given up 29 homers, which is tied for the seventh-most in the league.

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With Aaron Nola struggling and Zach Eflin now showing issues, too, the only reliable starter appears to be 33-year-old Jake Arrieta, and how much longer will that last?

Lefty Dallas Keuchel is still out there. This week, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that Keuchel is open to a “good one-year deal.”

According to Olney, the San Diego Padres — who went “all-in” themselves by signing Manny Machado — seem a better fit for Keuchel.

The Phillies don’t have a left-handed pitcher among their starters. Keuchel, 31, was with the Houston Astros for seven years. He posted a 12-11 record last season with a 3.74 ERA.

He also eats innings. He pitched over 200 innings in 2018 and the Phillies are in need of starters than can go deep. Why?

Opposing hitters are batting .259 against Phillies’ relief pitching, which is 24th overall in MLB.

Relief pitcher David Robertson was supposed to solve the Phils’ bullpen problems. He hasn’t.

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Instead, the veteran is on the injured list because of lingering soreness in his right elbow/forearm. How do the Phillies solve the problem?

They go all-in and sign closer Craig Kimbrel.

Kimbrel comes at a price. But the Phillies have already answered that question, haven’t they?

They’ve gone all-in to secure a playoff spot and a World Series by signing Harper. Now is the time to reach a bit deeper and make sure that there’s October baseball in South Philadelphia.

Joseph Santoliquito