We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag.  We take your questions and answer them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill every Tuesday. Submit your questions anytime to @FrankKlose on Twitter.

Is Zach Eflin a bona fide number three starter behind Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler?

The Phillies are in their final week of their 2020 playoff push.  Certainly, Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler have given them what a number one and number two starter would look like on a team in this shortened season.  However, I would stop short of calling Zach Eflin a number three starter.

The reason is that while Eflin puts together some really nice starts, he has had his share of inconsistency.  The seven-inning complete game shut out was just what the doctor ordered on Friday.  But then there were starts like his previous start against the Miami Marlins, when he went just four innings and allowed four earned runs.

I would place him maybe as a fourth or even fifth starter on a really good team.  Think Joe Blanton in the midst of some bigger stars.  He will have some really good moments and some moments that are less than stellar  How appropriate: they even wear the same number.

That said, the Phillies should try to acquire a number three starter ahead of next season.

What would an actual "Plan B" look like for J.T. Realmuto in 2021?

I think the biggest thing regarding J.T. Realmuto going forward is that if the Phillies lose Realmuto to free agency, we must be well-aware that the Phillies are not going to replace that kind of production behind the plate.  Should the Phillies lose him, I would think the plan should be on in which the money and roster improvement is spread across the roster.

The Phillies are paying Realmuto $10 million in 2020.  But there is other money coming off of the books, such as Jake Arrieta's average annual value of $25 million and David Robertson's $12 million.   Didi Gregorius earns $14 million in 2020 (prorated) and Vince Velasquez $3.6 million.

If you take all that money away, I would expect that the Phillies fill shortstop with someone good, preferably with Gregorius himself.  Then, the replacement in the pitching rotation be better than Arrieta this year.  Whoever fills whatever role Velasquez fills, should be better.

What other roles can the team improve?  Maybe catcher will not be as good - they'll probably sign a veteran type to work with Andrew Knapp as Rafael Marchan gets more seasoning - but perhaps other positions will be better.

But at catcher alone, there is no other J.T. Realmuto.

If Matt Klentak were to be let go, who would be the top candidates to replace him? And would Andy follow?

Overall, I believe that the Phillies rebuild is a failure.  From when Andy MacPhail came on the season five and a half years ago to now, the Phillies are not significantly better.  The rebuild from a draft perspective has not netted any stars, except maybe Alec Bohm.  I am not sure if simply squeezing into the playoffs is good enough for Matt Klentak at this point.

Meanwhile, the Phillies are about maxed out at the Competitive Balance tax number of $206 million, exceeding it by $6 million according to SportTrac.

The Phillies have Bryce Harper at a great cost.  They have other veterans like Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura who combine for $30 million a year. They had to pay up for Zack Wheeler because the team needed the pitching help badly.

But after all this time.  All this money.  The Phillies should be better than where they are.  A major market.  Lots of time.

I would personally see both of them head out the door.

As for a potential replacement, the name I like is Dave Dombrowski.  He is like Pat Gillick in that he's been very successful in many franchises.  I would let him be team president and run baseball operations to get the ship righted.  Then ultimately, I think he could be a general manager to move forward.


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