Let’s make a couple of concessions from the outset here:

1. Gerrit Cole is among the most indispensable players in the majors. But that would be true if he were a member of any staff.

It struck me when the Phillies extended Zack Wheeler that Wheeler might fall into a bucket solely consisting of him and Cole: the pitcher who can make not just 30 starts, but do so at Cy Young-consideration level annually while also providing comfort that he can handle October. It is a rarer and rarer three-pronged asset group in the majors.

Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander aged out of this class. Clayton Kershaw did, too, plus he has been haunted by inconsistent — at best — postseason performances. Jacob deGrom can’t stay healthy to remain in consideration. Sandy Alcantara hasn’t had enough of a postseason platform, and now is going to miss this season after Tommy John surgery.

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