Citizens Bank Park
43,035 Seat Stadium
Manager: Joe Girardi
The Phillies (81-81) finished in 4th place in the NL East 16 games back of 1st place Atlanta. They were 12 games back of 2nd placed Washington, 5 games back of 3rd place New York and 24 games ahead of last-place Miami. The Phillies were still 8 games out of the final wildcard spot in the National League as well. With the signing of Bryce Harper, this was supposed to be the year of snapping their postseason drought at the very least.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
OF Andrew McCutchen (With the start of the season being delayed, it gives McCutchen a good being in the lineup on opening day. When he tore his ACL on a freak play, it pretty much ended the Phillies season last year. They did not know that at the time, but essentially it did. He was the leader, the sparkplug of the team. For some reason, the whole team just played better and they won with him in the game. He hit .256 with 10 homers & 29 rbi’s and scored 45 runs in 59 games. I know those are not elite numbers, but the attitude of the team changed after he went down)
C JT Realmuto (JT is the best defensive catcher in baseball, that alone makes him worth it to a team. But throw in his offensive skills and it makes him something special. He hit .275 with 25 home runs & 83 rbi’s and 92 runs scored last year and stole 9 bases which is crazy for a catcher. And some people are saying he had an off-year because they were expecting his numbers to skyrocket going from Miami to Philadelphia.
OF Bryce Harper (Everybody seems to think Bryce had a bad year since they Phils did not make the playoffs, not true. He hit .260 with 35 home runs & 114 rbi’s. That topped his numbers his last season in Washington. Enough said. I looked for an even better year now that he is even more comfortable with the team)
1B Rhys Hoskins (Big things were expected from Rhys last season especially with Bryce joining the team last season hitting just .226 last year with 29 home runs & 85 rbi’s and scoring 86 runs. He was 5th in the league in walks with 116. Those are still decent numbers but feel disappointing. Maybe with some of those expectations gone as well as some of the pressure, things will be better in 2020)
SS Didi Gregorius (I am really anxious to see how Didi does in his first year with the Phillies. Manager Joe Girardi certainly knows Didi from the Yankees and does not seem worried at all about his horrible spring and even joked about it. His final season with the Yanks in 2019 was not his best, but he only played a half-season due to injuries. He hit .268 with 16 home runs & 61 rbi’s and 47 runs scored. He did that in just 82 games last year so I would expect to nearly double those stats if healthy all year)
2B Jean Segura (Jean really needs a bounce-back season in 2020. After hitting over .300 for three straight seasons, he dropped to .280 last year in his first year with the Phillies. His stolen bases were cut in half from 20 to 10. He hit 12 home runs & knocked in 60 runs while scoring 79 runs. He is only 29 and certainly has a few more good years left in him. Hopefully, he can help the Phils make the postseason this year)
3B Scott Kingery (Scott signed a huge contract with the Phils even before playing a game in the major leagues for them. That is how much they think of him. He has yet to live up to that billing but has shown flashes of what he is capable of. His 2nd season showed improvement with his average jumping from .226 to .258. His Home runs went from 8 to 19, rbi’s from 35 to 55, runs 55 to 64. He also stole 15 bases and played nearly every position on the field making him very valuable to the team. I am not sure he is ready for a breakout season yet, but he will continue to improve. I think once he can settle in at one position and not jump all over the place, it is going to help him on the offensive end as well)
OF Adam Haseley (It is hard to get a feel of how good Adam is or is going to be. He was forced into action sooner than the Phils wanted to bring him along with McCutchen getting hurt and Herrera’s suspension. His numbers were only so-so (.266, 5 homers, 26 rbi’s, 30 runs) but I watched him play a bunch of times and he has played all outfield positions and played them well. I liked his swing, he actually reminds me of Chase Utley a little bit. Keep in mind he is just 23 and has plenty of room to grow and improve. I believe he is one of their outfielders of the future forced to play a little too soon)
RHP Aaron Nola (Aaron did not have a good season. His overall numbers were not too bad. 12-7 with a 3.87 era allowing just 176 hits in 202.1 innings while striking out 229. But his first 5 starts his era was 6.84 and 6.51 in his last 5 starts, so in between, he had a pretty solid 2.89 era. Nola is way too talented to have another era near 4.00 again and now that Wheeler is aboard to take away some of the pressure of being that one guy who must-win games, he will do even better. I look for great things from him this season)
RHP Zack Wheeler (This was the big free-agent signing for the Phillies in the offseason. It is just what the doctor ordered…pitching. He was just 11-8 with a 3.96 era last season but after the All-Star break was much better over his final 76 innings having an era of just 2.83. Wheeler was always considered to have staff ace potential and at 29 years old he needs to prove it real soon. Everybody that has watched him pitch say he has the stuff and that is why the Phils gave him the big contract)
RHP Jake Arrieta (For the 5th straight year Jake’s era has gone up and not just by a little bit. I will give him credit for his effort. He knows he signed the big contract and want to earn his money, he just wants to help the team win. He pitched with a bone spur in his elbow most of the season before being shut down in August. He was 8-8 with a 4.64 era. He allowed 14 more hits than innings pitched and his strikeouts were way down. The hope is the surgery getting rid of the bone spurs will reverse the decline in his era and he will return to the Jake of the past. The Jake the Phils thought they were getting when they signed him)
RHP Vincent Velasquez (Here is a guy that they keep saying has nasty stuff in one breath and he has got to go in the next. Every year I keep waiting for him to have that breakout season where he goes 17-4 and is in the running for the Cy Young. He has had enough chances and has been on teams with good offenses. If he was going to do anything he would have turned the corner by now. Last year he was 7-8 with a 4.91 era giving up 26 homers in 117.1 innings. He was removed from the rotation and put in the pen at times he was so bad. I actually think he is due for a year where he loses all his confidence and completely falls apart and is sent to the minors. I do not have a good feeling at all about Vincent. He appears to be getting worse instead of improving)
RHP Zach Eflin (Zach is a very interesting pitcher. He will throw a few gems at you making you think we have something special here and then comes the clunkers where you wonder how he made it out of the minors. Last season he did lower his era from 4.36 to 4.13 but that was about it. He was 10-13 allowing 172 hits in 163.1 innings & only striking out 129 giving up 28 home runs. He at one point lost his spot in the rotation but worked his way back in after looking good in the pen. It could go either way for Zach in 2020)
CLOSER – RHP Hector Neris (The past few seasons I don’t think any team in baseball has had more injuries than the Phils. The pens went from a strength to a weakness in one season. Right now Neris is a notch below the best closers in the game, but if they were to be healthy for a full season is capable of reaching that status. Last year he had 28 saves with 6 blown saves and 2 holds. He was 3-6 with a 2.93 era allowing 45 hits in 47.2 innings pitched while striking out 89 batters. He has all the tools and is pitching on a team that is capable of racking of wins and giving him plenty of chances)
Last season so many things went wrong for the Phillies after McCutchen was lost for the season. Ace Aaron Nola certainly did not have his best season, the bullpen was ravished with injuries. There was talk all season long about the manager and his strange ways and I don’t think they players believed in him. Despite all of that they still finished 81-81.
You know as long as they stay healthy they are going to play better, so I am pretty with the addition of Zack Wheeler & Didi Gregorius and the new attitude and experience that manager Joe Girardi brings, that is easily worth 5 more wins. This is a no brainer for me. This should win 90+ games this season.