Philadelphia Phillies MLB Season Preview
Philadelphia Phillies Last Season Performance
It was a miracle run for the Philadelphia Phillies to the 2022 World Series. They entered the postseason with the final Wild Card spot, and went on to win the National League pennant. Philadelphia fired manager Joe Girardi and replaced him with Rob Thomson, who took over and rejuvenated the team.
The Phillies were top-heavy, and the regular season was a grind, filled with injuries, but the postseason is where the stars shined. Bryce Harper, who was never fully healthy, Kyle Schwarber, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, and Nick Castellanos took care of knocking in runs. Pitchers Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler kept games close for José Alvarado and Seranthony Domínguez to keep the lead.
Their struggle in the regular season made the Phillies’ playoff run a surprise. The whole mood of the team shifted when Thomson was made interim manager, and they started to get healthy.
Trea Turner signed an 11-year, $330 million contract that will hopefully fill some holes on the roster. He may not have the best glove but can play both middle infield positions well. On top of that, he remains one of the fastest players in the MLB, providing a threat to steal, and has added some pop recently to his usually contact-based bat.
The pitching staff got much-needed upgrades. Starting pitcher Taijuan Walker was signed to a 4-year, $72 million deal to balance out the rotation headlined by Nola and Wheeler. The bullpen also got a big boost by signing Matt Strahm and Craig Kimbrel on short-term deals. Trading for two-time All-Star Gregory Soto, who had 30 saves last season, was another important addition.
A big reason a new player was needed in the middle-infield is that the Phillies let Jean Segura leave. He struggled last season, and the team definitely went for the upgrade.
There were also a few key losses in the starting rotation, with Zach Eflin, Kyle Gibson, and Noah Syndergaard deciding to sign elsewhere. Reliever David Robertson also left the team after the Phillies acquired him at the trade deadline.
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Manager: Rob Thomson
After Rob Thomson took over the Phillies, the team went 65-46, 9-2 in the postseason to win the pennant. Thomson was rewarded for his success with a two-year contract extension. This will be his first full season as a manager in the MLB. His job is secure this season, and if the Phillies succeed again, he could be in for a longer extension soon.
Strengths: Top Of The Lineup
Turner is now the leadoff hitter, a contact bat with power, and a threat on the bases. Then behind him are some of the best power bats in the NL.
Schwarber, Realmuto, Hoskins, and Castellanos combined for 111 HRs. That was even with Castellanos struggling, only hitting 13 HRs. However, Castellanos had hit 36 HRs the prior season and could be due for a bounce-back. Those four names, along with Harper, carried the offense to the World Series, and if they can manage till he returns, it will be a scary sight for opposing pitchers.
On top of that, Turner adds an entirely different element to the leadoff spot. Schwarber was leading-off for the Phillies most of last season, and while his batting average was .218, he led the NL in HRs, 46. Turner could get on base, and instead of Schwarber hitting a solo shot, it could now be a two-run HR, if he is moved to second in the order.
The negative would be that Harper and Hoskins will start the season on the IR. Harper had Tommy John surgery in November and Hoskins tore his ACL near the end of Spring Training. The time table for their returns are not clear, but it will definitely have an effect on the early part of the season.
Weaknesses: Backend Pitching
Similar to the lineup, the top-end talent of the Phillies’ pitching staff is great, but there are question marks afterward. They did make additions to bolster the rotation and bullpen, but even they are not solid fits. Strahm and Kimbrel are older, and Walker has been inconsistent at times.
If the Phillies want to make another deep run, they need pitching depth, which they don’t have. Despite the first three starting rotation spots being solid, it is still unclear how the backend might look. The same thing can be said about the bullpen. The top names are elite, but looking beyond that could give Thomson some pause going to his bullpen early.
When this pitching staff is healthy, it can be solid, but the lack of depth will eventually be a problem through a long season.
Predictions for the 2023 Season
Expectations are high heading into the 2023 season for the Phillies, and they should be. This team is in better hands and better constructed heading into Opening Day. The team remains top-heavy but with more talent. Plus, that formula is what got them to the World Series last season.
But the question still is, can Philadelphia withstand injuries due to its lack of depth and do enough until the best player gets back? This team has enough talent to do so unless the injury bug hits them hard. Their biggest problem is being in a division with two of the best teams in the NL.