Welcome back everyone!
Baseball is back, and we are ready to get this extremely strange 2020 season finally started. A few months back before we even knew what things like COVID-19 and quarantining was, I did my 2020 Phillies projection. Since then many things have changed in the world of baseball (and the world in general). For instance this year will be played with a much shorter schedule of 60 games with the same playoff format. Teams will only play the teams in their own division, and AL teams in their corresponding geographical areas. A rule that will help a team like the Phillies is the universal DH. Why do you ask will this help a team like the Phillies? A player like Alec Bohm who can sneak his way up to the big league club this season, could get an opportunity to show that bat that has impressed in the minor leagues thus far. It also can give guys like Rhys Hoskins or JT RealSIGNHIMuto (subtle enough?) a “day off” as AL teams of the past have used that spot in the lineup.
Now that we are caught up to speed of some of the new details of the upcoming season, we can get into where I see them. I will start with the manager then move onto the offensive side of the ball then make my way to the mound. WARNING YOU MAY LOVE OR HATE WHAT I HAVE TO SAY, WITH THAT BEING SAID THESE ARE MY THOUGHTS AND OPINONS, YOU ARE ENTITLED TO YOURS AND IM WILLING TO ARGUE FOR MINE. THANK YOU.
Now that, that has been said lets start with Manager Joe Girardi. Girardi seems to have handled this whole situation like that consummate pro that he is. He has been able to, in his first spring training/summer camp may I add, been able to focus on the task at hand. In an interview with the guys at MLB Network, Girardi talked about some of the difficulties of managing a 60 game schedule in 66 days. He mentioned small moves such as, using big bats like Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, and Andrew McCutchen in the DH spot to give their legs a rest while still having that production in the lineup. If I know anything about Joe in the years I watched him manage the Bronx Bombers, is he will get this team in the right spot to be able to compete and he will have the best interest in his team to keep them safe and healthy through this grueling marathon of a season.
Offensively this team can hit with just about any team in baseball. A big part that needs to improve and I believe I mentioned this in my 162 game projection, is Rhys Hoskins. Hoskins had a regression from his .246/.354/.496 34HR season in ’18 of a .226/.364/.454 29HR ’19. If they could get a similar slash line from ’18 with about 13HRs he will be a big help for them in this shortened season. Another thing that needs to not be a distraction for this team is the JT Realmuto contract situation. We’ve all seen the little things that teammate, Bryce Harper, has done to show his support to his backstop like his Pizza from Angelo’s that had “SIGN JT” written on the inside of the box. Not even for this season but seasons beyond, JT needs to be in a Phillies uniform for them to be the competitive team that Bryce signed here to be. I hope to see a lot of Scott Kingery in the outfield and at 2nd base. He came into camp looking like he ballooned up and is ready to turn the jetpacks in for some bombs.
Now lets go to the part that some will hate about what I have to say! When it comes to the Phillies pitching, I am not overly impressed. I think when we discuss the other teams in the division, the Phillies pitching is the 4th best. When I say 4th I refer to both bullpen and rotation. The 2019 WS Champion Nationals have by far the best overall pitching in the division and I don’t believe anyone will be able to debate that. 2nd is a toss up but I think the Mets have that spot for me, then Braves, Phillies, and the lowly Marlins. The Phillies bullpen is just okay, and I’m being generous when saying that. They went into the offseason with that being a spot they needed to focus on in my opinion and they did nothing to help that. They made 2 moves that will help the pen, in signing Francisco Liarano and re-signing Tommy Hunter. I KNOW I KNOW the team dealt with injuries when it came to their pen last year that will be back, but are they going to help this team that much from where they were last year? To me no, to others maybe? There is still too many questions and not enough answers when it comes to that. Onto the rotation, the rotation got some help with the signing of veteran starter Zack Wheeler. Wheeler has been through his ups and downs in his career with the Mets and that’s something that honestly doesn’t sit well with me. If he hasn’t been very consistent with the Mets what makes people think he’s going to be MR. Consistent with the Phightins considering they play in the same division he wasn’t that consistent in? if the Phillies are able to get the Zack Wheeler the Mets got in the second half of last season I feel confident that this team can be successful with him and Nola at the top of the rotation, but if he falls into the same old stuff this could mean disaster for this team.
After weighing all the factors I looked back to last season to see how they faired (obviously on a much bigger scale) against their division and the AL East since that’s who they will be playing this season.
Against NL East Opponents:
They only faced Boston in the AL East last year where they went 2-2 against them.
That is a 38-42 record against 5 of the 9 teams they will face this season.
My prediction for 2020 is that the Phillies will finish 32-28. I feel like at this very moment I still have more questions then answers with this team. If they are to add to the pen and maybe add another starter to the mix I have a lot of faith this team could win at least 36 games, but until then I’m sticking to my 32-28 with a divisional finish of 3rd or 4th.
Thank you all for reading, hope you enjoyed. Oh and one more thing BASEBALL IS BACK!!!