Phillies Rightly Have High Expectations

by Marc Narducci | Mar 29, 2024
Phillies Rightly Have High Expectations
Is it a World Series or bust for the Phillies? A lot of fans think so, but getting to the playoffs is no guarantee, even though it would be a major surprise if the Phillies don’t make a third consecutive postseason appearance. 

 While the fans are high on the Phillies, Las Vegas isn’t as optimistic. According to Fanduel Sportsbook, the Phillies have the seventh best odds to win the World Series (+1,500). Those ahead of the Phillies are (1) Los Angeles Dodgers, (2) Atlanta Braves, (3) Houston Astros, (4) New York Yankees, (5) Texas Rangers, (6) Baltimore Orioles. 

That’s just another reason for the Phillies to enter the season with a major chip on their shoulder. 

The Phillies are a veteran team that is built to win. They have made the playoffs the past two years as a wild card team and likely will have to go that route again.

The Atlanta Braves (104-58), won the NL East by a staggering 14 games over the second place Phillies (90-72). 

Do the Phillies have the ability to make up those 14 games on the Braves?

Anything is possible, but the Phillies did eliminate Atlanta in each of the previous two postseasons, so they know they can beat the Braves and quite frankly, they may be in their heads when it comes to the playoffs. 

Atlanta has questions with both its starting pitching and the bullpen, but so do the Phillies.

Starting pitching seems to be the key for both the Phillies and Braves, which is no bold statement, since that is the case with most teams.

The Phillies have one of the best trios in Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Ranger Suarez. 

Taijuan Walker, now in the second-year of a four-year, $72 million contract, was a major disappointment toward the end of the season. He was so ineffective that Walker didn’t pitch a single inning in the postseason. 

Walker has battled injuries this spring and was ineffective (15.43 ERA in 4 2/3 innings). With a shoulder injury sidelining Walker for at least the beginning of the season, the Phillies are expected to move Spencer Turnbull into the rotation. 

Turnbull, who turns 32 in September, only pitched 57 innings last year, 31 for the Detroit Tigers and 26 in Triple-A. 

Since 2019, that 57 innings is the most for a season (including the minors). 

So how long he can be a starter is subject to debate, but unless the Phillies make a trade or a late free agent signing, it appears that Turnbull and Cristopher Sanchez will round out the rotation.

The bullpen should be solid, but more consistency will be needed by the likes of Gregory Soto and Seranthony Dominguez.

The offense should be fine, although the Phillies have to hope that the back injury that has bothered Bryce Harper during the exhibition season won’t be problematic during the regular season. 

Bryson Stott might be a year away from challenging for the batting title. The Phillies can hope that Alec Bohm (20 HR, 97 RBI) can continue to expand his power.

Plus Trea Turner is bound to have a second season with the Phillies after having his lowest full-season batting average (.266).  

Regardless of the odds, the Phillies have the ability to go all the way.

Yet so do the six teams ahead of them and probably a few behind, such as the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

The same Diamondbacks who appear to be improved after winning the NLCS in seven games over the Phillies last year.

With baseball, so much is about which teams have the healthiest pitching staffs in October. 

It’s a long road to there but the Phillies have the ability to play into October and possibly November.

Phillies photo of Aaron Nola / Marc Narucci

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Author: Marc Narducci


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