Despite a couple below .500 years leading up to it, it wasn’t until they sold off Cole Hamels during the deadline in 2015 that the Philadelphia Phillies really started a full rebuild and we are now starting to see the fruits of that labor.
In a division with the Nationals and a pitching staff like the one the Mets have, the Phillies have no real shot at competing this season as they continue to get younger and groom players for the future. Nevertheless, there are some names that are starting to surface on the big league club with others on the way. With young and hungry players, we may see this team overachieve early like they did a year ago, but there’s still not enough here to make them much more than a potentially pesky team for the contenders as the year progresses.
2016 Record: 71-91
2016 Moneyline Record: -2.01 Units
2016 Over/Under Total Record: 78-76-8
Current World Series Odds: +18500
Current Odds To Win NL: +9500
Current Odds To Win NL East: +2350
Regular Season Win Total: 73.5
J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro and Nick Williams—amongst others—are all knocking at the door ready for a chance to stick in the Major Leagues. We should see plenty of them as the season wears on which is great news for Phillies fans looking for any sign of progress after a 91 loss season.
Along with the further development of young players, the Phillies added Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders to hold down the corner outfield spots and provide solid, veteran leadership to the club. Kendrick has struggled in spring, but is an established hitter and while Saunders saw a downturn in production in the second half last year, he was still an All-Star with the Blue Jays.
We can also realistically expect some growth from Maikel Franco who regressed a bit in his first full season at the big league level after such an impressive showing in 80 games in 2015. He had a .733 OPS last year thanks in part to a lower average an OBP. He did still slug 25 bombs, but there’s more in there and if he can improve in the middle with support around him like Saunders, that can help this team build a more effective lineup around him.
Last year, only Tommy Joseph, Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera closed the year with an OPS+ above Franco’s 96. There could be a few more players topping the 100 mark and showing they’re above average players. In addition, we should see more of Joseph who will now take over first base full time with Ryan Howard’s contract having expired.
It will be extremely important for this team to do a better job offensively. They were dead last in all of baseball in runs scored in 2016.
As to the pitching, we saw Jeremy Hellickson really step up as the veteran of the staff, earning himself a qualifying offer from Philadelphia and a hefty pay raise. He delivered 12 wins and a 3.71 ERA for the team.
Behind him, Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff all showed the ability to keep the team in the game. Nola’s ERA was a bit elevated, but he pitched in tough luck given a 3.08 FIP.
To help supplement Hellickson’s leadership, the Phillies acquired Clay Buchholz from Boston. While his year was a bit of a rollercoaster, he pitched well after his stint in the bullpen and seemed to figure something out.
Buchholz has routinely pitched well, when healthy. That’ll be the key for him, but even if he or someone else goes down, there is depth in this rotation with a few more young guns ready to break through.
So, we have an improved lineup that should score enough to inch closer to the middle of the pack, we have a deep rotation with plenty of guys capable of keeping you in a ball game and a few with very good stuff that could take another step forward. All of that is a positive story, even if it doesn’t necessarily lead to a .500 record.
The bullpen becomes a bit of a question. They did add Pat Neshek and Joaquin Benoit to help support it. They need the pen to give the rotation the confidence that they just need to get through six or so innings with the lead.
Jeanmar Gomez remains the closer for this team. He was one of the bigger stories early last year, leading the world in saves, but quickly regressed ending with an inflated 4.85 ERA and 1.456 WHIP. He may give way to Hector Neris, however, who pitched the most innings out of the pen with 80.1, putting up a 2.58 ERA and 1.108 WHIP in the process.
April 3-6: at Reds
April 7-9: vs. Nationals
April 10-12: vs. Mets
April 14-16: at Nationals
April 18-20: at Mets
April 21-23: vs. Braves
April 25-27: vs. Marlins
April 28-30: at Dodgers
The Reds should off the Phillies a pretty good transition into the regular season, though playing in the Great American Ballpark will be a bit of a different feel weather-wise than playing in Clearwater, Florida. Nevertheless, they’ll be a good test case for this team before squaring off against the two teams expected to top this NL East.
Speaking of those teams, the Phillies play the Nationals and Mets back-to-back-to-back-to-back, meaning they have four straight series against those two teams, playing both of them at home and on the road for a combined 12 games spanning from April 7 through April 20. After that things ease up again as they host a remade Atlanta team and the Marlins.
View this years MLB game match-ups with the complete seasonal schedule for all MLB teams. Each year we will be updating the season schedule with the current information including final scores, so bookmark this page.
The 2017 Major League Baseball season is tentatively set to begin on April 2, 2017, and feature three games, including the 2016 World Series champions Chicago Cubs facing off against the St. Louis Cardinals, which will be ESPN's first Sunday Night Baseball game of the year.
The 88th MLB All-Star Game will be hosted by the Miami Marlins and will be played at Marlins Park on July 11, 2017. It will be televised nationally on Fox.
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