2020 NL East Team Previews: Philadelphia Phillies

Last season was a huge disappointment for a team that spent “stupid money.” The Phillies were the traveling exposition of the cliché that you can’t buy a championship. In fact, after outbidding everyone, including themselves, for Bryce Harper to the tune of $300mil, jumping the shark of J.T. Realmuto, and sinking more payroll on to soon to be injured Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson, they bought themselves exactly .500 baseball and a 4th place finish in the NL EAST. This came just a year after the $120mil acquisition of the disappointing Jake Arrieta.

But that was with Coppertone cover boy Gabe Kapler holding the crop, Sabering this expensive thoroughbred into a ditch, wallowing, waiting to be shot. Surely Joe Girardi can breathe some life into this roster and bring about a commonsense approach to modern managing. I like Girardi and feel like he’s the best acquisition the Phillies have made in their 3 year effort to escape the rebuild.

With the addition of fellow former Yankee Didi Gregorius, and coveted hurler Zack Wheeler, I think Joe has a lot to work with in Philly. I don’t expect them to shock us all and run away with the division from the jump, but while I beat this dead horse, Mr. Ed, in his current state, could manage a pitching staff better than the Gabe, and that’s gotta be worth a few wins. So, with steady Joe In the saddle, these Phillies could be in contention at the quarter pole. So let’s take a look.

Philadelphia Phillies: INFIELD/CATCHER (2019 bWAR)

1b Rhys Hoskins (1.5)

2b? Jean Segura (1.3)

SS? Didi Gregorius (0.6 – injured)

3b? Scott Kingery (3.0)

C J.T. Realmuto (4.4)

This group is super versatile, and I have placed them where they make the most sense to me. It could shake out differently, but they should be improved by two things. First, giving Kingery an everyday infield spot should help him settle into a more productive role. Whether he plays at second or third, he’ll be more comfortable than he was in centerfield. The other improvement is that Didi Gregorius will be an upgrade over Mikael Franco ALMOST as drastic as the managerial change. Yes, I know they aren’t the same position, but in sum Franco out, Didi In. For the bench, Arquimedes Gamboa is the only other infielder on the 40man currently but with Josh Harrison and Phil Gosselin also under contract they have other options. The bench could be bad, but it could be experienced, and shouldn’t be a major liability. Still TBD.

Philadelphia Phillies: OUTFIELD (2019 bWAR)

LF Andrew McCutchen (1.4, injured)
CF Adam Haseley (1.7)
RF Bryce Harper (4.2)

A full season of ‘Cutch would be the elixir this team needs. A dynamic player and national fan favorite, baseball is better when McCutcheon is on the field. Harper’s gonna Harper, flipping bats and flipping bangs. Adam Haseley takes over in center after the DFA of Odubal Herrera. If everyone stays healthy, this outfield should field well enough, and hit very well. Other options include the afore mentioned Herrera as he cleared waivers and was outrighted to Lehigh Valley, as well as Roman Quinn the speedster and Jay Bruce who is the exact opposite of that.

Philadelphia Phillies: Rotation (2019 bWAR)

1 Aaron Nola (3.9)

2 Zack Wheeler (4.1)

3 Jake Arrieta (0.9)

4/5/LR Zach Eflin (1.5)

4/5/LR Vince Velasquez (0.7)

4/5/LR Nick Pivetta (-0.6)

This is a unit that desperately needed another horse and Wheeler is exactly that. The one, two punch of Nola and Wheeler immediately makes this Phillies team a more serious contender and pushes the rest of the scrap down the ladder. With the pressure off Arrieta we should see a solid season of mid rotation quality innings, which is what he’s suited best for at this point in his career. Eflin, Velasquez, and Pivetta have all shown potential to be productive big-league contributors but this is the put up or shut up season for them as they battle it out for the 4th and 5th spots. How they produce this year will be a key to the overall success in the 162 game marathon.

Philadelphia Phillies: Bullpen

Closer Hector Neris

RHP Seranthony Dominguez

LHP Jose Alvarez

RHP Victor Arano

LHP Adam Morgan

LHP Ranger Suarez

Velasquez/Eflin/Pivetta/Stock/etc

The bullpen went largely unaddressed from a personnel standpoint but as we have mentioned, its usage will change drastically from last year’s approach. Look for roles to develop early and be more consistent than the gnat straining of Kapler. There is enough talent in the Philly bullpen to be a net positive in 2020 and Girardi will have a lot to do with helping these guys shake the stink of manure. Truth be told, they didn’t perform all that poorly in 2019, but expect them to be used in a much more coherent manner, maximizing their abilities by simplifying their roles, increasing their probability of sustained success. Not for nothing, but David Robertson should be ready to return from injury over the summer, though its tough to bank on instant contribution.

Other Assets (AKA Prospects)

None – they sent them all to Miami for Realmuto. Just kidding, kinda. Spencer Howard (RHP) and Alec Bohm (3B) are the clear-cut leaders of this crew and both are close to MLB readiness and should expect at least a cup of coffee soon. Enyel Del los Santos (RHP) would be the next most likely to find time in the majors this season whether as a spot starter or through bullpen attrition. The rest is a collection of moderately intriguing youngsters that will be too far away from contributing (Luis Garcia and Bryson Scott), or lackluster star-fallers, too bland to consider noteworthy for the 2020 season (Adonis Medina and Mickey Moniak). If the Phillies need to make a trade, they have some currency here but not much. Right now, they are positioned to rely on free agency to improve the big club, which they did.

FINAL SAY

All things considered; I feel like this version of the Phillies is better than the last version. I wouldn’t give them the “paper champs” title just yet, but they will not be a fun team to play. A win total in the mid-80’s is abundantly reasonable with an outside shot at 90+. The first season with Girardi will have an adjustment period, they don’t have the farm to replenish in case of an injury, nor the depth to overcome it. I predict a consistently inconsistent performance that swings heavily on the health of the opening day lineup and rides the waves of Bryce Harper’s streaky bat. I think they improve but sputter at the end due to lack of depth and ready trade pieces.

Predicted Finish: 85-77

Braves 95-67
Nationals 93-69
Phillies 85-77
Mets 83-79
Marlins 71-91

@bravespreacherJD

If you enjoyed this piece on the Philadelphia Phillies 2020 Preview, take a look at our first piece in the series on the fish!

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25 thoughts on “2020 NL East Team Previews: Philadelphia Phillies”

  1. Joshua Doss,

    Interesting phrasing and word choices. “Shake the stink of manure.” This remains a most literate site.

  2. I missed the Marlins piece yesterday, but I’m a little more bullish on them than most and think they hit 70 wins. Plus, their top prospect Sixto Sanchez didn’t get any mention and he should see the majors this year.

  3. To Smitty’s point

    Shiser.

  4. Nice depth. Tomlin’s back.

  5. So the bulk of the teams in the last decade have tanked to get to the top of the Org Talent Rankings, and yet the Rays have won in one of the hardest divisions in baseball and built the best talent composite. Good for those guys.

  6. One would think that King Felix and Tomlin are fighting for 1 spot. Hamels on the shelf pretty much guarantees Newk at least a few starts unless he completely loses bodily function (hat tip to Mac) or something during spring training. I like Wright for the other starter role with the 2 of them competing until Hamels is good to go. Isn’t Hamel’s injury pretty much what Soroka did to himself last year?

  7. @13

    I think i can still remember the week when the Braves finally managed to organize and pay for the rookie’s family to travel to the States for some sort of family reunion, long delayed by circumstance. The warm and fuzzy feeling one felt knowing it was actually going to happen.

  8. Sixto Sanchez is a terrific prospect and the crown jewel of the Marlin’s prospects but is unlikely to see more than a cameo with the big team in 2020. He has no AAA experience thus far, is not on the 40-man roster, and the fish have no real incentive to start his service clock before they absolutely must unless he is one of those guys who will sign an extension before he hits the majors. I think they use 2020 as a time to build up innings at the lower stress environment of Wichita as his career high in innings is 114. Speaking of which, when did Wichita become a AAA city?

  9. @ 16 This summer is the first year for Wichita to be the home of the Marlins AAA affiliate. Was just by the new stadium last week and it’s almost completed. I’m looking forward to seeing Sixto play!

  10. @18 Wichita may have the WindSurge (are we still in Kansas, Dorothy?) and also, shockingly, the Shockers, but Wichita Falls has the Spudders. How do you like them potatoes, Alex?

    (yes, I know what a “spudder” is)

  11. Strangely, it’s a reference to the film the Ice Harvest. But I have to imagine the film was inspired by the name of the Metheny album, as I found it by Googling.

  12. Any interest in a bravesjournal fantasy league? There was one a few years back that was a pretty good time.

  13. I’m just glad I finally got to close all those Phillies research related tabs I had open in my Chrome browser…haha.

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