The Phillies were once a first class team in the NL East in the late 2000’s, but lousy contracts and aging stars prompted their fall from grace over the last few years. The departure of Ryan Howard will open up the first base spot, and Odubel Herrera will now play a full time role in center field. The addition of some veterans will help the younger players turn the corner, giving fans some optimism that the tides will turn towards a new era for the club. As they make way their way in the right direction, let’s take a look at some notable features of the Phillies roster for the 2017 season.
2017 Philadelphia Phillies Season Preview
Nola began last season being declared as the future ace of the Phillies. In the month of May, he really began to look the part. In his six starts, Nola went 3-2 with a 2.31 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 39 innings. He was helping the Phillies stay in the wild card race, until a major breakdown in the month of June. He undeniably had his worst month as a pro, finishing with a 1-3 record and a 10.42 ERA in five starts.
Nola’s season was sadly cut short. After only four starts in July, he was shut down in early August with a UCL sprain. Rather than having Tommy John surgery and being sidelined for over a year, Nola received a platelet-rich plasma injection and continued to rehab over the offseason.
Now with a whole season in front of him, Aaron Nola says he is at 100% and to rebound in 2017. That being said, the Phillies are still being very cautious. Nola has made two starts so far in spring training, pitching two innings in each appearance. The 23 year-old has a 4.50 ERA and three strikeouts in his four innings of work. Though he has had some struggles with his command, the organization is very confident that he will shake off the rust soon enough and return back to his normal form.
With the departure of players like outfielder Darin Ruf and first baseman Ryan Howard, the Phillies had the strategy of signing players whose contracts were up after one year. Outfielder Michael Saunders is signed for two-years, but has an option for 2017. That way, if he severely underperforms, the team can cut their losses. With the additions of position player Howie Kendrick and pitcher Clay Buchholz, this gives the club a chance to have some veterans fill in until the younger prospects are primed for their arrival. The newer additions can also be sold off in July for potentially newer pieces as well. All in all, the offseason moves made a lot of sense for the Phillies.
The Youth Movement
Although there is a lot of enthusiasm with this roster, it’s unrealistic to expect the youngsters to compete at an All-Pro level immediately. Philadelphia is devoted to giving them plenty of opportunity while managing their farm system. There will be inconsistencies, especially in the rotation with Buchholz being called upon to hold down the fifth spot, coupled with a lack of depth in the reliever role. True change will take time, and the Phillies must be patient with the development of their younger players.
It seems like an intelligent decision on the Phillies’ part to rebuild and commit themselves to the future by giving their young talent some beneficial experience, all the while adding some to assist in filling holes in their roster. That being said, they will struggle competing at the top of the NL East this year; But the future looks promising for the Philadelphia Phillies.