For the last few months, there have been plenty of stories about baseball and pace of play. It seems to be one of the main focuses of commissioner Rob Manfred's early tenure and we can expect more new rules to come out of the league office over the next few years beyond just a streamlined intentional walk.
Unfortunately for Phillies fans, the team's current rotation may be the antithesis of the pace of play crusade. Fangraphs.com makes available the stat Pace, which is an approximate average amount of time in between pitches for a player. Here's its primer on the statistic. It takes out pickoffs and other pitch-disrupting events, but it isn't a perfect stat.
That being said, it gives a pretty good idea of which pitchers are fast or slow. Fangraphs ranks fast pitchers at around 20.0 seconds between pitches, average around 21.5 seconds and slow at 23.5 seconds or above.
So here's the average Pace over the last two years for the Phillies' projected rotation:
Jeremy Hellickson: 25.1
Clay Buchholz: 24.9
Vince Velasquez: 23.7
Aaron Nola: 21.3
Jerad Eickhoff: 20.3
The first observation is that you have three pitchers that are well below average in Pace, a concerning development. Let's say Eickhoff and Hellickson each have a game where they throw 100 pitches. Hellickson would add an average of eight extra minutes to the game compared to Eickhoff. It's not ideal.
That being said, Eickhoff is especially fast, a relief to anyone who likes little down time in between pitches. Eickhoff doesn't tend to mess around when he's on the mound. Nola is pretty similar and the stats bare that out.
As for Velasquez, his numbers actually improved by 1.6 seconds (24.8 to 23.2) from 2015 to 2016. Who knows what he'll actually settle in at for his career?
One thing to keep in mind is that a pitcher's pace doesn't have any tangible effect on performance. You can be really fast and effective (Eickhoff) or really slow and perform well (Hellickson). But if you're looking for a pitcher that's going to give you a crisp and quick game, Eickhoff is your man.