Last year, the Philadelphia Phillies finished fourth in the National League of Major League Baseball winning 71 games and losing 91 games. On April 3, 2017, the team will play their regular season opener in Cincinnati.
What Did the Philadelphia Phillies do in the Offseason?
The Phillies acquired right-hander Clay Buchholz in a trade with the Boston Red Sox giving that team second baseman Josh Tobias. They also got Howie Kendrick who only has one year left on his contract from the Los Angeles Dodgers giving the West Coast team Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney. The Phillies snagged Pat Neshek from the Houston Astros for a player to be named later or cash. Philadelphia also became the new home for outfielder Michael Saunders and relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit who the Toronto Blue Jays let become free agents.
In addition to the players already named, the Phillies cut outfielder Cody Asche lose as a free agent. He ended up with the Chicago White Sox. The team also allowed starting pitcher Charlie Morton to become a free agent. Morton moved on to the warmer weather of Houston. The fact that team owner John Middleton turned Howard lose may signal that he is ready for a new era to begin in Philadelphia.
Who will Likely Pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies?
The team still lacks a pitching ace that can guarantee a win almost every time that he is on the field. Aaron Nola is still the best pitcher that the Phillies have, especially if he can play like he did in the opening part of last season. Jeremy Hellickson decided to stay with the team after his contract was renegotiated. Jerad Eickhoff is capable of being a third solid starting pitcher, but do not expect any flash.
The first thing that must happen is that Vincent Velasquez must stay healthy. After a complete shutout during his second game with the Phillies, the rookie became inconsistent. Then, he suffered some injuries before coming back with too many walks in July and a high home run rate. He has four balls that he can throw well. If the Phillies want to finish the year better than their fourth place finish last year, this player must stay healthy and pitch well. There are a lot of unknowns which has not served the team well in the past.
Will the Phillies Hit the Ball this Year?
Last year, the team finished with the fourth fewest runs in baseball. Unfortunately, the team was not able to pick up any ready talent in this area during the offseason. The team did add Peter Bourjos who may be able to add some points to the scoreboard. General manager Matt Klentak is hopeful that young players will develop quickly this year.
A lot of the success of the Phillies may rest on the ability of Maikel Franco to consistently hit home runs. The Dominican Republic third baseman finished dismally in 2016, after showing much promise in the farm leagues in 2015. This player should really benefit from the hiring of Matt Stairs as Philadelphia’s new hitting coach.
Spring season for the Philadelphia Phillies renews hope that this season will be different for this team. The team is still without an ace pitcher or reliable hitters. They do, however, have talent in their farm system, so young players may be able to move up quickly. Alternatively, the team may be able to make some trades during the All-Star break to help them down the final stretch.