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Rival Season Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

The Phils have made some more big organizational changes following a disappointing season. Will it pay off in 2020?

MLB: Spring Training-Minnesota Twins at Philadelphia Phillies Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Before the 2019 season, the Phillies front office spent big trying to reach the postseason for the first time since 2011. Well, that didn’t happen. The Phillies had a nice run during the first few months of the season. After June 8, they were in first place in the NL East with a 37-27 record. However, they cratered from there and lost 54 of the final 98 games. Bryce Harper and the other new guys saw their team finish fourth with an even 81-81 record.

Still determined to contend, they kept investing in free agents this past winter and even brought in a new manager: Joe Girardi. During this upcoming shortened season, Girardi will have the challenge of keeping his stars consistent throughout the whole campaign in order to compete with their NL East rivals.

The Marlins were surprisingly successful against the Phils in 2019 (10-9 record) and they’ll begin this upcoming season by facing off on July 24.


Initial 60-man player pool

NOTE: RHP Anthony Swarzak, C Logan O’Hoppe, C Henri Lartigue were added to the player pool on Friday.

New faces:

SS Didi Gregorius, RHP Zack Wheeler, RHP Deolis Guerra, RHP Reggie McClain, RHP Robert Stock, OF Kyle Garlick, RHP Trevor Kelley, 2B Josh Harrison*, IF Logan Forsythe*, IF Neil Walker*, RHP Bud Norris*, LHP Francisco Liriano*, IF Ronald Torreyes*, OF Nick Martini*, OF Mikie Mahtook*, RHP Anthony Swarzak*.

Players with an asterisk are on the 60-man player pool, but not on the 40-man roster.

Players who left:

OF Corey Dickerson (MIA), UT Sean Rodríguez (MIA), 2B César Hernández (CLE), UT Brad Miller (STL), RHP Juan Nicasio (TEX), RHP Mike Morin (MIL), RHP Nick Vincent (SFG), 1B Logan Morrison (MIL), LHP Drew Smyly (SFG), RHP Edubray Ramos (LAD), RHP Jerad Eickhoff (SDP), 3B Maikel Franco (KCR), RHP Jared Hughes (NYM), RHP Pat Neshek (free agent), LHP Jason Vargas (free agent).

Pitching

The Phillies did help their cause by bringing Zack Wheeler aboard on a five-year, $118MM deal, but that won’t be enough if the team doesn’t get support from the other starters besides him and Aaron Nola. Furthering clouding the rotation picture, Nola is currently away from the club’s Summer Camp due to the COVID-19 protocol.

Last year, veteran righty Jake Arrieta continued his decline and he will be occupying the third spot in the rotation. He will be followed by ineffective Vince Velásquez and inconsistent Zach Eflin. For the Phils, it’s a great 1-2 duo, but I wouldn’t expect anything great from the three last guys.

Nonetheless, their 60-player pool includes highly touted prospect RHP Spencer Howard, who’s estimated to make his MLB debut in 2020. Even though he’s only made six starts in Double-A (2.35 ERA), that should be encouraging for the Phillies.

Héctor Neris will serve as the closer again. The team does have other options, but truth is none of them are reliable. Lefties José Álvarez, Francisco Liriano, and Adam Morgan could make an impact, though their chances diminished as the LOOGY role is dead. Morgan in particular has extreme platoon splits for his career. Although there is a slight chance that former Yankees great David Robertson comes back from Tommy John surgery and that could improve their outlook, the Phils lost Seranthony Rodríguez also to TJ.

The Phillies bullpen was one of the worst in the National League in 2019 and yet they didn’t add a great name to their staff, a concerning point for the team.

Hitting

When you look at what might be the offensive order, it’s a different story. Girardi can reasonably expect a lot of runs and have plenty of men on the bases.

Andrew McCutchen is recovered and will be leading off. He’ll likely be followed by hit machine Jean Segura, Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, Didi Gregorius, Scott Kingery (currently on IL due to COVID-19), and company. Thanks to the universal DH, their lineup could carry Nick Williams or Jay Bruce as an additional bat.

Center field will be unsettled for the first period of the season. It seems that Adam Haseley could get the starting nod, but Kingery, McCutchen, and even Roman Quinn are in line to see some action.

Power hitting third baseman Alec Bohm should come to the majors at some point of 2020 to give their lineup a boost. He’s the best prospect in the organization and hit 30 doubles and 21 home runs in 540 PAs in the minors last year (.305/.378/.518).


2020 ZiPS Projection: 29-31, 21.6% chance to make playoffs, 9.9% to win division