After Major League Baseball has finally agreed on a 60-game season Las Vegas has set the Philadelphia Phillies win total at 31.5 games. They are among eight other teams at that win total who all figure to be in the mix for a playoff spot come October. Following the recent Coronavirus outbreak that occurred at Phillies camp in Clearwater, the question will be how healthy can Philly stay? And what impact will their new and experienced manager Joe Girardi have on this young roster? Let’s look at the Philadelphia Phillies Season Preview.
Zack Wheeler: The Phillies biggest off-season acquisition was signing Wheeler away from the New York Mets in free agency. Pitching was the main weakness last season with their ERA in the bottom half of the league at 4.53. Adding another horse alongside Aaron Nola will do wonders for their rotation, especially with the caliber of Wheeler’s stuff. However, the question is whether he will play the entire 2020 season. Wheeler is unsure that he’ll play after his baby is born later this month, according to The Athletic’s Matt Gelb.
Didi Gregorius: Sir Didi adds the consistency from the left side of the plate that was lacking in 2019. Aside from Bryce Harper, the Phillies were missing a lefty presence in the lineup that the former Yankees shortstop will fill. He provides left-handed pop from the middle infield that the Phillies have not seen since the days of Chase Utley.
Andrew McCutchen: The second-year Phillie played exactly 59 games before getting shelved for the season with a torn ACL in 2019. Most would say this was the biggest blow to Philadelphia’s season as they fell apart in the absence of their leadoff hitter. He was one of the leaders in the National League in runs scored through 60 games. The former MVP will need to have the same impact in a 60-game schedule.
Alec Bohm: The Phils’ top prospect is one of the biggest unknowns heading into the 2020 season. Without ever playing in a Triple-A game, the 23-year-old could get some DH at-bats despite playing in just 63 Double-A games. After hitting .293 with 21 homers and 97 RBI in two minor league seasons, Bohm could be just the depth bat Philly is looking for.
Faith in the Bullpen: Once again the Phillies are left with massive bullpen question marks in July. Except for this time the season has not even started yet. Philadelphia failed to address their biggest need this off-season. Instead, they will rely on the same pen returning healthy after an abysmal 2019. With the absence of Seranthony Dominguez and David Robertson in their player pool, this seems like an impossible task.
Back End Starter: The Phillies are one of those teams who will be relieved if they make it to the playoffs and can run a four-man rotation with the lack of depth in the back end. They have two top arms and a big question mark at the top of the rotation. Meanwhile, unknowns Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta, and Vince Velasquez will fight for the remaining starts. The back-end of the rotation is extremely weak compared to the other contenders in the NL East. In order to surprise in 2020 one of these young arms will need to step up, although they’ve proven unable to do so in the past.
Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco: Most people would not pin these two as players who will be terribly missed, but they were two of the longest-tenured Phillies in 2019. Cesar was the most consistent bat on the team while Franco provided underappreciated power numbers throughout his career. The hope is that the addition of Didi and improvements from Scott Kingery will more than make up for these infield losses.
Make or Break
Jake Arrieta: The 2015 Cy Young Award winner has got to go down as one of the most curious cases in the history of starting pitchers. His tenures with the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, and now Phillies look like three entirely different players. Arrieta could single-handedly decide the fate of the entire Philly rotation. With the uncertainty of Wheeler’s status, Arrieta will need to perform like a solid top-of-the-rotation arm in order for this staff to succeed.
Rhys Hoskins: He has been one of the most up-and-down players in the entire sport since he came into the league in 2017. The power is undeniable, but it seems like one or two terrible months ruins every single one of Hoskins’ seasons. The role of protecting the 330-million-dollar man is an essential one towards Philly’s success. This is a lineup that struggled to get runners in last year and a lot of that falls on the cleanup guy.
Scott Kingery and Adam Haseley: Between these two youngsters at least one will have to take a major step forward in 2020 to reach the playoffs. Kingery is the obvious choice as he will finally be getting the everyday infield job after moving on from Franco. The 2017 first round pick from Virginia, Haseley, will get the opportunity in center field after showing potential in limited time last season. Both of these players however have recently encountered issues with COVID protocol that will need to be addressed.
The Entire Bullpen: There is a strong argument to be made that the Phillies have the weakest bullpen on paper out of all possible contenders this season. COVID has already impacted two of their key components after both Hector Neris and Tommy Hunter have tested positive. Major steps forward will need to be taken by their young arms as well as continued progression from a newly healthy Adam Morgan.
Phillies Lineup with 60-Game Projections
According to Roto Champ
- Andrew McCutchen LF .266 BA, 9 HR, 26 RBI
- J.T. Realmuto C .277 BA, 9 HR, 29 RBI
- Bryce Harper RF .260 BA, 14 HR, 39 RBI
- Rhys Hoskins 1B .237 BA, 12 HR, 35 RBI
- Didi Gregorius SS .264 BA, 9 HR, 30 RBI
- Jean Segura 2B .286 BA, 4 HR, 22 RBI
- Scott Kingery 3B .246 BA, 7 HR, 22 RBI
- Jay Bruce DH .227 BA, 8 HR, 22 RBI
- Adam Haseley CF .255 BA, 4 HR, 16 RBI
Rotation with 60-Game Projections
According to Roto Champ
- Aaron Nola RHP 4-3, 3.73 ERA, 76 SO
- Zack Wheeler RHP 4-3, 4.02 ERA, 62 SO
- Jake Arrieta RHP 3-3, 4.50 ERA, 48 SO
- Vince Velasquez RHP 3-3, 4.59 ERA, 52 SO
- Zach Eflin RHP 3-4, 4.66 ERA, 45 SO
7 @ Home, 3 @ Atlanta Braves
6 @ Home, 4 @ New York Mets
3 @ Home, 7 @ Miami Marlins
4 @ Home, 6 @ Washington Nationals
3 @ Home vs Baltimore Orioles
2 @ Home, 2 @ Boston Red Sox
3 @ Tampa Bay Rays
3 @ Home, 3 @ Toronto Blue Jays
2 @ Home, 2 @ New York Yankees
The Phillies are one of the most volatile teams heading into a shortened season due to a lack of depth. With a totally healthy and unaffected roster on paper, they have what it takes to make the playoffs. However, that is asking a lot for a team that has been damaged by the coronavirus early on in camp. With the birth of Zack Wheeler’s child coming around the start of the season, there is even more pitching uncertainty. After the full schedule came out on Monday, the Phillies made out decently. It is hard to ask for more than seven of ten games against the Braves being played at home. Overall, if everything goes right they have playoff potential, but things could just easily go terribly wrong. It’s all on Bryce’s shoulders, does he have another NL MVP in him this 60-game season?
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