Phillies

Phillies

Phillies

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 16: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits a solo home run in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks during Game One of the Championship Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 16, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

We are a little under a week away from the start of the Phillies season. Assuming Mother Nature cooperates and doesn’t rain the Phillies out next Thursday. They will be looking to make it 3 straight trips to the playoffs, and hopefully the 2nd trip to the World Series in 3 years.

But will they get that chance? Can they recapture the magic, or even improve on it? Will 2024 be the season they finally break through and bring the trophy back to South Philly?

There are lots of reasons to be optimistic. They may have brought back pretty much the same team as last year, but that is not a bad thing. That same team, except with Rhys Hoskins in place of Trea Turner, came two wins away from a World Series in 2022. Last season they came 1 win away from getting back there.

The difference being this year they get a full season of Bryce Harper. Last year he missed the first season. It took until August for him to get his power back after recovering from Tommy John surgery in November. And it will also be a full season of him playing 1st base.

There is a reason this team did so well the past two seasons. Yes, they came up short, but so did 30 other teams in each of those seasons. We have seen this team is built for the playoffs.

Their rotation is their strength, perhaps more so than their lineup. While every other team struggles to field 3 capable starting pitchers, the Phillies rotation has been elite both times. Now we see Ranger Suarez is finally ready for the start of the season, after having complications in each of the past two seasons.

Will all of that be enough to make this Phillies season different?

Here are 9 Bold Predictions For How The Upcoming Phillies Season Will Go:

  • The Division Won't Be Over Before July

    In terms of boldness, this doesn’t feel like it is going out on a limb. But in each of the past two seasons, the Braves pretty much ran away with the division by the time of the All-Star Break. Even though they won 90 games last season, the Braves still won the NL East by 14 games.

    It stems from the Phillies’ slow start. If you go from June on, the Phillies did a decent job of keeping pace with the Braves. But their poor performance in April and May let the Braves pull out to an insurmountable lead.

    That won’t be the case this year. Their relative health going into the season, along with their hunger after falling short, will have them screaming out of the starting gate. Whether they win the NL East or not, they aren’t going to let the Braves kick their feet up in September. Which may not be a good thing given how flat the Braves looked in October after wrapping everything up early.

    John Clark on Twitter: ""They are motivated. We've had 2 years of tasting it. They want it. They want to take a big chunk out of it and swallow it"-Phillies manager Rob Thomson on Phils making it to World Series and NLCS the last 2 years and trying to close the deal pic.twitter.com/VNWJs31ZRu / Twitter"

    "They are motivated. We've had 2 years of tasting it. They want it. They want to take a big chunk out of it and swallow it"-Phillies manager Rob Thomson on Phils making it to World Series and NLCS the last 2 years and trying to close the deal pic.twitter.com/VNWJs31ZRu

  • 3 Phillies Will Win A Gold Glove

    The Phillies have not been known for their defense the past few seasons. But that could change this season. They will have Bryce Harper at 1st. Not Rhys Hoskins like in 2022, or insert bench player here like in 2023. Harper played very well there last season even without having a full off-season to work on his glove there. Now, most around the MLB expect him to be exceptional at 1st.

    Instead of Kyle Schwarber in Left, the worst fielder in the league, they will have Brandon Marsh. Marsh was slightly above average in Center, but was pretty exceptional in Left. His moving makes way for Johan Rojas. If Rojas can just not be a complete liability at the plate, he is probably the best defensive outfielder in the league.

    Nick Castellanos, Alec Bohm, and Trea Turner aren’t winning any awards for their gloves. But Bryson Stott came close to a Golden Glove last season, finishing as a finalist. As did both Taijuan Walker and Zack Wheeler. And if Ranger Suarez finally gets enough starts to qualify for the award, he should be among the favorites.

    It is very easy to see 3 separate Phillies winning a Gold Glove. Stott, Harper, Wheeler, Walker, and Rojas all have a shot at it. A full season of Marsh in Left may even give him a chance at earning the hardware.

  • Bryce Harper Eclipses 40 HRs

    Despite winning two MVPs, and being considered one of the best hitters in the league, Harper has only actually hit 40 once. It was in 2015 when he won his first MVP. Since then, he has hit 35 twice, and 34 once.

    Part of his problem has been injuries. Harper failed to reach 150 games in each of his past 4 seasons, though that is counting the 2020 Covid-shortened season. He is healthy going into this season though. Playing first might help him stay healthy.

    Harper hit only 21 last season. But 16 came in August/ September. That type of pace is going to lead him to his 2nd 40 HR season.

  • Trea Turner Will Still Hit Under .280

    They aren’t all positive predictions. I do think Trea Turner will be better this season. For the first 4 months, he was genuinely one of the worst players in the league. Both at the plate and in the field. His speed was the only part of his game still working. And while I think he will get back to being consistent, I think the days of him being a .300 hitter are gone.

    We saw a hole in his game exposed a bit last year. Turner is a wild swinger. He is aggressive at the plate, and it can get him in trouble with him swinging at bad pitches. His chase rate is not as bad as Nick Castellanos, but it is still near the bottom of the league.

    What we will see is a far more consistent Turner. A lack of slumps defined Turner’s career before he joined the Phillies. He was Mr. Consistent. Last season he was either slumping or surging. He hit .266 on the season, but that was boosted by a great month of August. For parts of the season, his average fell below .250.

    I see him being a .270 hitter. The speed is still elite. And he has great pop for a middle infielder. He will still be a very good hitter. Elite even. I just don’t see the average bouncing back to what it was in the past.

    MLB Network on Twitter: "Who could forget the standing ovation Philly fans gave Trea Turner last season? 🔔Turner would go on to have the 2nd highest SLG (.668) in MLB among qualified hitters from August 4th-on. pic.twitter.com/28JrF8Ap6Z / Twitter"

    Who could forget the standing ovation Philly fans gave Trea Turner last season? 🔔Turner would go on to have the 2nd highest SLG (.668) in MLB among qualified hitters from August 4th-on. pic.twitter.com/28JrF8Ap6Z

  • Ranger Suarez Has a Sub 3.0 ERA

    I am buying up all the Ranger Suarez stock. As already stated, for the first time he is coming into the season healthy, and ready to pitch. Last year an injury at the World Baseball Classic had him behind the 8-ball. In 2022 it was Visa Issues.

    He made it to Spring early this year though. In 15 IPs, he has given up no runs. His stuff looks as good as it ever has.

    Will he turn into a workhorse starter? Maybe not. He might still be a 5 inning guy in the playoffs. But we have seen how great he can be when he is on his game. Since being moved into the rotation, he has been among the best left-handed starters in the league. Now that he is healthy to start a season for the first time, I think he will take the next step with a sub-3.0 ERA on the season.

  • Taijuan Walker Will Lose His Spot In The Rotation

    On the other hand, Taijuan Walker does not appear ready to start the season. An injury has kept him shelved for most of the Spring. Once he came back, he did not look good. This coming off not being used at all in the playoffs.

    Once healthy, he will get a chance to be the 4th starter. But he has not been a consistent pitcher for the past few seasons. He has his moments. but overall, he has been somewhat mediocre. If anyone in this rotation could lose their spot, it is him.

    That may be a Trade Deadline acquisition. But it could also be to someone already in the system. Mick Abel’s stuff looked quite good in Spring. He was sent to AAA to start the season. But at some point, one of the starters will make a trip to the IL. All 5 starters staying healthy is wishful thinking.

    Mick Abel is likely going to get a call-up at some point, even if for just one start. And if like Cristopher Sanchez last year, he impresses, he could stick around. If that happens, it may come at the cost of Taijuan Walker.

  • Aaron Nola Gets Cy Young Votes

    It’s a running bit that Aaron Nola is great on even years, and bad on odd years. In 2018, 2020, and 2022, he had a combined ERA of 2.87. In 2019, 2021, and 2023, his ERA was 4.54.

    It’s an even year though. He also has a whole season to adjust to the pitch clock, and no longer has the pressure of it being a contract year. That all lends to it being a nice bounceback year for him.

    Nola actually finished quite strong. Especially in the playoffs. Outside of a mediocre final start vs the D Backs, he was tremendous in the playoffs. Count on him carrying that over. He won’t win the Cy Young. And some of the Phillies might steal votes from each other. But he will be great enough that at least one person will give him a Cy Young vote.

    He is also a new dad. Congrats to Nola!

    John Clark on Twitter: "Congrats to Aaron Nola and his wife Hunter Jayden. They are proud parents of their first baby girl. Scottie Brooks Nola. Right in time for the Phillies season. 📸 Aaron Nola pic.twitter.com/F8pmITDWRx / Twitter"

    Congrats to Aaron Nola and his wife Hunter Jayden. They are proud parents of their first baby girl. Scottie Brooks Nola. Right in time for the Phillies season. 📸 Aaron Nola pic.twitter.com/F8pmITDWRx

  • Seranthony Dominguez Leads The Team In Saves

    In 2022, Dominguez was outstanding. Especially considering he had thrown 1 inning in the MLB since 2019. 2023 did not go so well. Fatigue from the previous year caught up to him. It turns out that not pitching for two years, and then coming back, is really hard to do.

    I think he bounces back big time this year. He will slide into the role we all once thought he would have back in 2018, Closer. Many might want Jose Alvarado in that role. But he is exceptional in his current role of coming in for the tough innings. That is how Rob Thomson likes to use him.

    Thomson said he is not committing to a closer yet, but might if one emerges. Alvarado and Jeff Hoffman have their own role. Orion Kerkering might close one day, but counting on a rookie is a big ask. For me, Seranthony Dominguez is the best candidate. I say he gets back to 2022 form, and that he and Alvarado make a deadly duo in late innings out of the Phillies bullpen.

  • Johan Rojas Hits Over .200

    Johan Rojas will be the best defensive center fielder in the game if he can stay in the lineup. Which is not a given. He was lost at the plate in the playoffs and continues to be lost in Spring Training.

    Rojas does not need to be a great or even good hitter. But can he be as good at the plate as Carlos Ruiz was in 2008. We might forget because Chooch went on to have very good seasons with the bat. But he was close to an automatic out in 2008. He hit under .220, with a SLG of just .300. But he stayed in the lineup because he was elite behind the plate.

    If Rojas hits .210 and steals bases when he does get on, that is good enough. They have a great lineup around him. They can survive one bad spot in the lineup if that spot is giving them elite defense.

    The Phillies have him working at stuff at the plate. They tell us they are encouraged. We aren’t seeing results, but the Phillies weren’t expecting results yet. I think they eventually get some. Not great results, but results good enough where his defense will outweigh his bad bat.

    Todd Zolecki on Twitter: "Just another routine play for Johan Rojas. Catch probability on this one: 10 percent. pic.twitter.com/0WS6pBp19A / Twitter"

    Just another routine play for Johan Rojas. Catch probability on this one: 10 percent. pic.twitter.com/0WS6pBp19A

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