We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag.  Each week we take your questions and answer them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill.  Tune in Tuesday afternoons to hear your questions answered on the air.

Should the Phillies have any interest in Luke Voit as a rental for rest of season?

I feel like I have been asked this question before.  Oh right, I have.  That was before the season began.  Yet, first baseman Luke Voit is available yet again.  There is one big difference this time: Voit has a body of work in 2023 that was less than impressive.

With the Milwaukee Brewers, Voit appeared in 22 games.  He hit .221 with a .284 on-base percentage, .265 slugging percentage, and four runs batted in.  He has not hit a home run this season.

The power was to be Voit's calling card in 2023.  Of course, the Phillies' answer to covering first base - a combination of Edmundo Sosa and Kody Clemens - has a combined seven home runs.

That is not to mention that Clemens is hot right now.  In his last 15 games, Clemens is batting .302 with an OPS over .900.  If you look at his last seven games, that OPS number is close to an even 1.000.

Adding Voit would temporarily replace what essentially has become the Sosa at bats in the lineup.  And, the Phillies would have to add a first base-only defender to the mix, who is not generally regarded as a plus defender.  That would be a roster spot at the expensive of an infielder.

Veteran first baseman Jesus Aguilar also just hit the market.  Our Mike Gill suggested he could be a fit. I prefer Aguilar to Voit.  But I think with Clemens surging, Darick Hall getting ready for a rehab stint, and Bryce Harper potentially getting some playing time there in about six weeks to two months, there might not be space for long.

If Andrew Painter will ready to debut in the majors later this season, should the Phillies still trade for a starter or should they prioritize his development?

I think that the Phillies are looking to protect Andrew Painter for the long-term.  The latest report is that he is indeed throwing, but has yet to formally take a pitching mound yet.  The Phillies are being very much cautious with Painter.

Painter has been able to avoid "Tommy John" surgery thus far.  The tear might be one that would lend itself to healing on its own.  If the tear worsens, then of course the Phillies might be back to square one and maybe he would need surgery.

But the Phillies still are holding out hope that he will pitch this season.  I think the Phillies hope that by taking it easy now, he'll be able to pitch, perhaps even at the major league level (at one capacity or another) this year.  In fact, Phillies president Dave Dombrowski sounded rather confident about it.

I would say, however, that anything that they get from Painter this season would be a bonus.

Was the season really dependent off of the pitching's health? With Painter getting scratched early and Ranger taking a while to get into the line up it feels like they have been playing from behind all season.

Well, I personally did not love the Phillies starting pitching depth heading into 2023.  If you remember how 2022 ended, it was with Kyle Gibson in the rotation and the Phillies not confident enough in Noah Syndergaard to start games.  The Phillies replaced Gibson with Taijuan Walker and gave Syndergaard's spot to spot starter Bailey Falter.

So here we are.

While some in the Phillies organization wanted Andrew Painter to crack the rotation out of camp, I think it may have been a little overzealous.  The remaining starting pitching depth was always suspect.

Of Nick Nelson, Cristopher Sanchez, and Michael Plassmeyer, did any of those names inspire you?

The Phillies were forced to turn to waiver claim Dylan Covey.  After burdening the bullpen with 7 1/3 innings on Sunday, the Phillies have to be skeptical about starting him again.

But as we saw last season, finding a starter in trade is easier said than done.

The Phillies were able to split a four-game series with the Braves which sounds passable.  But if there was not an off day today, the Phillies might be panicking.  What can Ranger Suárez give the Phillies tonight?   We do not know.

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