N.L. East Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies
What do the numbers seven, zero and six mean to the minds of Philadelphia Phillies fans? Change in the couch? Their favorite fictional spy character? Latest Windows update? Nope. That is the earned run average for the 2020 Phillies bullpen. The Rockies tried, but even they couldn’t beat seven-zero-six.
Even with a hideous bullpen ERA and the 12 blown saves that went with it, Philadelphia still managed to finish just two games below .500 which is kind of amazing. So, they made the bullpen a priority in the offseason. The Phillies went out and signed Sam Coonrod (9.82 ERA with the San Francisco Giants in 2020), lefty Jose Alvarado (6.0 ERA in 2018 with Tampa Bay) and… wait. Were they trying to get worse?
Okay they signed other guys too. Is Austin Voth the answer? No idea. One year his ERA starts with a 6. The next year it starts with a 3. Tanner Rainey could be helpful. He posted a great stat line in 2020. This also scares the tar out of me. Pitchers who were supposed to have a good year in 2020 did not and those who were supposed to flame out were raising successes.Wander Suero has a great name and a decent stat line. Maybe, just maybe these are the guys.
Aaron Nola is a stud. When he’s on, his stuff is filthy. He averages well over a strike out per inning and his WHIP is 1.16. It’s hard to tell what his career earned run average would be with better teams and bullpens behind him but 3.43 is certainly worthy of being the number two starter on anybody’s club. Zack Wheeler’s A little different kind of pitcher. He doesn’t quite have the swing and miss stuff that Nola does and is more of a pitch to contact guy. This would help explain why he allows more runners on base. That said he also knows how to get out of trouble and he’s a solid number three starter on anybody’s squad..Chase Anderson had four decent years in Milwaukee, a decent year in Toronto and then a really bad year last year. Anyone who looks at 2020 numbers to try to figure out how a player is going to do this year should have his head examined so don’t read too much into that. He is definitely a pitch-to-contact guy and his ERA is higher as a result. As a fifth starter he’s not bad. Zack elfin is also a fifth starter. His career 4.57 ERA is inflated due to his performance his first couple of seasons in the league but over the last three seasons it’s actually been about a 4.20. He also doesn’t strike out a lot of guys in pictures to contact. And that brings us to Matt Moore.
I cannot for the life of me explain why the Phillies would’ve brought Moore in to pitch. He seems like a lovely person. I’m sure he sends his mother flowers on all appropriate holidays. He probably is a positive influence on kids and his community. But the guy is no longer effective. His last season as a starter, he posted a 6.82 ERA. Multiple teams have given him a shot. Maybe they can bring him out of the bullpen. I don’t know. You can’t tell me that there’s not one kid in the Phillies farm system who can’t come up to the big leagues average 4 1/2 innings per start an average two runs allowed. You can’t tell me that that kid doesn’t exist.
I’ve always been amazed by Bryce Harper‘s hand eye coordination because his feet are all over the place. With a base that unstable most people would fall over if they tried to swing a baseball bat as hard as he does. There are so many moving parts when he’s swinging that it’s really hard for him to put them all together. I haveI havealways been amazed by Bryce Harper‘s hand eye coordination because his base is so unstable that most people would fall over if they try to swing a baseball bat as hard as he does. There are so many moving parts when he’s swinging that it’s really hard for him to put them all together. When he does, he’s MVP material. When he doesn’t he’s incredibly slump-prone which puts a lot of pressure on his teammates to try to fill the void.
The middle of the diamond defense for the Phillies is going to dictate whether they succeed or not. JT Realmuto is really good behind the plate and he gives you offense. Jean Segura will hit .285 with a dozen or so home runs but his value was going to be in minimizing errors in the field. He makes an error about once every nine games He also gives the Phillies options at multiple infield positions. Didi Gregorius’ fielding percentage is nine points higher than Segura’s and Gregorius plays the tougher position at shortstop. He’s not great offensively but he’s solid. He’s a guy who puts the ball in play. Brad Miller gives them depth. The Phillies have a huge advantage over other clubs in the production that they should get from their catcher in JT Realmuto. He’s liable to give you .280 with 20 home runs and 70 RBIs. First baseman Rhys Hoskins mystifies me with how many pitches he misses. I think he’s just a bad guesser. How else to explain that he walks three times for every five times he strikes out which is a really good ratio but he’s only hitting .239 for his career? But man when he gets his right ball goes a long way…. he’s mate on the other corner of the diamond, Alec Bohm, had quite a debut in 2020. In 44 games he had 54 hits, 11 doubles and 23 RBI while hitting .338. Is that sustainable over a full season? Probably not if he strikes out three times as much as he walks. It will be interesting to see how he does now that the other teams have tape on him. In the outfield Harper is in right and Andrew McCutchen is slated to be their every-day leftfielder and lead-off hitter. He has the highest on-base percentage of anyone not named Harper. There’s a three-headed monster in center. Unfortunately, none of the heads can hit better than .260, at least according to their minor-league stats.
So where does that leave us? It leaves us with three really decent pitchers, a much better bullpen, a decent defense and a huge need for a fifth starter and another outfielder. You’d think they’d be a lot better, but in that division I don’t see how.