Philadelphia Phillies 2018 Season Preview
The Philadelphia Phillies finished dead last in the National League East division last year, and were the 4th-lowest scoring team in the National League overall. However, if you were a betting person, you should definitely wager on both of those unfortunate statistics changing in the 2018 season.
After a miserable start to last year, when they went 29-58 over the first half of the year, the Phillies seemingly turned a corner, going 37-38 the remainder of the way, while averaging 4.77 runs per game, which was good for 13th in MLB last year. That figure was almost one full run more per game than what the team produced in 2016.
The turnaround guys
That turnaround was spearheaded by guys like Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford Nick Williams, and Jorge Alfar, all of whom will be relied upon to carry that momentum into 2018. Of course, the biggest flaw in that assumption is the fact that all three guys have so little experience in MLB at all, so putting the pressure on them in such a way could easily be the recipe for witness one (or more) of them regress. That’s why it’ll be just as important for the veteran players, like Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera, and Cesar Hernandez, to help guide the young guys over the course of the brutally long baseball season.
Hoskins will likely be the starting left fielder, moving to that position with the signing of Carlos Santana. He was sensational last year, hitting 47 home runs and 139 RBI while splitting time between triple-A and the MLB last year. Alfaro and Williams came over as part of the deal that sent away Cole Hamels, and in hindsight, the Phillies got exactly what they should’ve when dealing away a high-profile player: a cadre of young guys to help rebuild the team.
The “other” pitching group
Speaking of which, Philadelphia has some interesting talen in the “other” pitching group. Pat Neshek was fantastic for the Phillies once he got to Philadelphia, putting up a 1.59 ERA with 69 strikeouts compared to six walks. Similar story for Tommy Hunter, who had a 2.61 ERA and 64 strikeouts. If their own experiment of playing Adam Morgan as a relief pitcher works out, they might be one of the better bullpen trio’s in the league.
The “Royal Rumble”
The NL East looks like it could be something of a “Royal Rumble” for much of the 2018 season, as teams will initially be jockeying with the Washington Nationals to earn the division crown, but once the Nationals (likely) secure that crown, they’ll all be right in the thick of things for that coveted wild card spot. It’ll be up to them to the guys in the locker room to really show the world what this team is about, considering they’ve become something of a trendier follow.
There’s a bunch of guys
The Phillies are going to need the guys to hit the ball as far and often as possible, considering the pitching staff might have more questions than answers this season. Aaron Nola returns to Philadelphia as the only guy to win more than eight games last year. After Nola, there’s a bunch of guys like Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, and Ben Lively who could be anything from serviceable starters to mostly dependable bullpen pitchers.
On the brink (again)
What’s most important is that the Phillies know they’re right on the brink of being a good team again. There’s pitching, there’s hitting, and there’s some guys in the bullpen. The question for the manager and the staff remains: how do you win with all those pieces assembled together?