The Top 10 Phillies 2023 Opening Day Questions
by John Kincade
1. Will Rob Thomson “The Manager” be as good as Rob Thomson “The Interim Manager”?
Taking over a salvage job at 22-29 where fan expectations were low is completely different than getting the big job with high expectations resting on your shoulders. Will he manage the same way? I’m confident he will transition into the big job very well.
2. Is the loss of Rhys Hoskins a wound the lineup can’t overcome?
I’m not as confident that the loss of Rhys Hoskins will be easily overcome. I expect that the lineup will struggle to score runs at times over the course of the first few months.
3. How will the pitch clock and new rules affect the pitching staff?
Every team has to make the adjustment, the teams that do it best will reach October. Aaron Nola is the pitcher who concerns me the most with the new rules.
4. How does the Bryce Harper return date affect the Phillies playoff chances?
Every game Bryce Harper plays in will exponentially raise their post season chances. I’ll predict he will be back in the lineup NO LATER than Tuesday, June 20th. Anything earlier would be gravy.
5. Was last years 3 week run nothing more than lightning in a bottle?
The month of October was magical. If the 9th inning rally in the first wildcard game at St. Louis doesn’t happen I don’t believe any of what happened after materializes. This team will have a target on their backs this time around.
6. How long will it take this Phillies lineup to gel?
The lineup will probably be scrambled over the course of the first month until they get guys in a groove. It will require Bohm or Stott taking on a more pressure packed position. Which guy is most ready to deliver?
7. Can the Phillies survive the most rugged September schedule ever?
During September the last 19 games played include; 3 at St. Louis, 6 vs the Braves and 7 vs the Mets. The good news? If you are in the mix you will get to have 3 extra weeks of playoff pressure action to get you ready OR to get you in.
8. Does winning the NL East matter after what we saw last year?
The Phillies won only 87 games and led the World Series 2-1. The home field advantage was huge, but they played very well on the road too. Remember that if the division race doesn’t go their way.
9. Will Aaron Nola not signing a contract extension become a distraction?
The knee jerk response from the Phillies faithful will be that it won’t be an issue. I disagree. First of all I expect that much like with the JT Realmuto extension the Phillies will eventually get a deal done. Nola reportedly loves the organization and city and as long as nothing crazy pops up injury wise they will find a way to work together. It is human nature to be anxious when the work situation is unsettled. Nola might not be enjoyingi this process.
10. How many of the Braves/Mets season series 26 games will Bryce Harper end up missing?
The first time the Phillies face the Braves will be in a 4 game series on Memorial Day Weekend in Atlanta. They travel to New York to face the Mets right afterwards. Those 7 games COULD be the only ones of the 26 critical division matchups that Harper misses. That could swing the race.