2023 MLB Season Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

Image: AP Photo / Chris Szagola

2022 Record: 87-75 (.537 win%, 3rd in Division)

2023 Payroll: 231,686,189 (4th)

2023 Projected Lineup:

1. Trea Turner, SS, .292 AVG/.345 OBP/.471 SLG, 5.8 fWAR

2. Kyle Schwarber, DH, .234 AVG/.339 OBP/.496 SLG, 3.1 fWAR

3. JT Realmuto, C, .257 AVG/.326 OBP/.441 SLG, 4.7 fWAR

4. Darick Hall, 1B, .226 AVG/.298 OBP/.435 SLG, 1.0 fWAR

5. Nick Castellanos, RF, .261 AVG/.313 OBP/.442 SLG, 1.3 fWAR

6. Bryson Stott, 2B, .247 AVG/.313 OBP/.385 SLG, 2.0 fWAR

7. Alec Bohm, 3B, .272 AVG/.324 OBP/.409 SLG, 2.0 fWAR

8. Jake Cave, LF, .232 AVG/.299 OBP/.396 SLG, 0.5 fWAR

9. Brandon Marsh, CF, .231 AVG/.294 OBP/.359 SLG, 1.2 fWAR

10. Josh Harrison, UTL, .258 AVG/.316 OBP/.376 SLG, 0.6 fWAR

2023 Projected Starting Rotation:

1. Aaron Nola, 202.0 IP/3.51 ERA, 4.6 fWAR

2. Zack Wheeler, 190.0 IP/3.41 ERA, 3.9 fWAR

3. Ranger Suárez, 153.0 IP/3.90 ERA, 1.9 fWAR

4. Taijuan Walker, 160.0 IP/4.44 ERA, 1.5 fWAR

5. Bailey Falter,  120.0 IP/4.25 ERA 1.0 fWAR

2023 Projected Top 4 Relievers:

1. Seranthony Domínguez, 67.0 IP/3.58 ERA, 0.6 fWAR

2. José Alvarado, 65.0 IP/3.05 ERA, 0.9 fWAR

3. Craig Kimbrel, 62.0 IP/3.99 ERA, 0.5 fWAR

4. Gregory Soto, 64.0 IP/4.04 ERA, 0.4 fWAR

What Does Baseball Mean to Philadelphia?

What sport doesn’t mean the world to Philadelphians? Philadelphia is home to some of the most passionate sports fans in the United States, and this does not stop at the Fightin’s. During the Phillies’ improbable postseason run last year, there was seismic activity reported around Citizens Bank Park. I never heard of something like that happening at a sporting event, let alone a baseball game. 

Just as much as Phillies fans will go crazy if the team is doing great, the same energy will be given when there is underperformance from players or the team. Phillies fans are not afraid to get on players for a slump of bad play, and typically do not care to choose nice words to direct toward players. But it is because they care, which is refreshing as I believe many fan bases across the majors do not have the same level of passion Phillies fans carry with them every day.

2022 Offseason Recap:

After coming up just games short of finishing off a beautifully unexpected World Series win, the Phillies almost immediately fell behind for the following season. Their team leader and superstar Bryce Harper was struggling with an elbow issue, which resulted in him having Tommy John surgery. This issue will likely shelve him until a bit before midseason or around the All-Star break.

After that terrible news, how did the Phillies respond? Like any team run by Dave Dombrowski would, with a bang! The Phillies sign Trea Turner to an 11-year $300,000,000 contract to be the shortstop for the next decade. Turner is coming off a monster year at the plate, and his elite speed adds to this daunting Phillies lineup.

The Phillies also picked up Josh Harrison in free agency and Jake Cave off waivers from the Orioles. Harrison signed for one-year at $2,000,000, and is one of the league’s best utility players. He will add more positional versatility to the Phillies’ bench, and be a tough out at the plate. 

All indications point to Cave being the starting left fielder going forward as the team anxiously awaits for the season debut of Bryce Harper. Cave has not had a season with a wRC+ of over 100 since 2019, but will be able to add some defense to the left field corner.   

The Phillies also found themselves in the starting pitching market, signing Taijuan Walker to a four-year, $72,000,000 contract. This added more depth to a Phillies rotation that one could argue already had three great arms in Nola, Wheeler, and Suárez. Walker replaces Kyle Gibson, who was not what the Phillies hoped he would be after acquiring him midseason in 2021 from the Rangers.

The Phillies also made many moves to hopefully bolster a wobbly bullpen, which included trading Gregory Soto and Yunior Marte, while signing Craig Kimbrel and Matt Strahm, and finally claiming Andrew Vasquez off waivers from the Giants. 

Soto was acquired from the Tigers along with Kody Clemens for Matt Vierling, Nick Maton, and Donny Sands. Soto is an elite left-handed reliever with a power sinker that sits in the high 90s. He struggles with control at times, but there are not many pitchers in baseball like him, and will certainly be a help to the back end of the bullpen. Kody Clemens will also be able to fill a utility player role if the Phillies choose to use him in the majors, adding positional versatility to their bench.

The former Dombrowski closer in Boston during their 2018 World Series run, Craig Kimbrel, signed with the Phillies for one-year, $10,000,000. Kimbrel is not what he once was, and I do not think the Phillies are expecting him to turn back the clock to the early 2010s. He has a track record of being one of the league’s best relievers, and the Phillies are focused on capitalizing on what he still has left in the tank.

Of the three other relievers added, Strahm is the most interesting. Another lefty, but Strahm has the ability to go multiple innings. With Suárez out to start the year, Strahm may see time as the fifth starter, and then will shift back once the rotation is back to full strength. Marte and Vasquez will most likely profile as back-end bullpen guys, but with a thinner rotation to start the year may see more time early to prevent overworking the big guys.        

2023 Regular Season Preview:

Before looking ahead at the season it’s important to include what the Phillies are dealing with regarding the injury front. I already touched on Bryce Harper’s Tommy John operation that will hold him for a good amount of the first half. Rhys Hoskins sadly went down with a torn ACL after a weird fall in a Spring Training game and is most likely done for the season. This is a huge blow to the Phillies lineup and it will be hard to replace his offensive production.

Ranger Suárez is struggling with an elbow issue that will keep him out for the start of the season, but will most likely be back in mid to late April. Elbow injuries are concerning, so it wouldn’t be surprising to me if the team took as much time with Suárez as possible. 

Finally, top prospect Andrew Painter suffered a UCL Sprain and is out for a considerable amount of time and the Phillies will take as much time as he needs to let him recover fully. Dombrowski mentioned before Painter’s injury that he could see time in the Majors this year, but this injury makes that much less likely. Painter is seen as the league’s best pitching prospect and will be a huge boost to the Phillies rotation for years to come.

Now when looking at the overall makeup of the roster it is built much like many Dombrowski teams of the past. Headlined by star power and the homerun ball. The roster construction is a little bit of a stray away from the conventional method nowadays, because of the sheer amount of money being spent on specific players.

The project opening day lineup on Fangraphs leads off with Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, and J.T. Realmuto. Turner’s overall hitting ability and speed add another dimension to the beginning of the already stacked top-of-the-lineup. He will help add many RBI opportunities to the two behind him and the Phillies offense will be able to get off to a hot start in games.

Where it gets a little dicey is after the first three. This is where the Phillies will feel the loss of Harper and Hoskins. According to the Fangraphs projected lineup the next three hitters are Darrick Hall, Nick Castellanos, and Bryson Stott. I believe Castellanos will have a resurgent year, over his career he has been a great hitter and I believe last season was an outlier. 

The biggest question in that section of the lineup will be Darick Hall’s ability to make up for the loss of Hoskins. Will the Phillies stay with him or decide to look elsewhere to find someone to fill that four or five hitter role?

The last section of the Fangraphs projected lineup has Alec Bohm, Jake Cave, and Brandon Marsh. The hope for the back end of the lineup is that Bohm can find some consistency and some more power, Cave is able to get back to being an average hitter in terms of wRC+ and be a positive defensive runs-saved outfielder, and Marsh to close an average hitter in terms of wRC+ and continue to be an above average defensive center fielder. 

I see Josh Harrison or recent addition Christian Pache as the most used bench bats. Both have positional versatility, Harrison in the infield and Pache in the outfield. 

The rotation should be able to carry this team through offensive woes, being headlined by Aaron Nola, Zach Wheeler, and Ranger Suárez. Nola and Wheeler are in the conversation for the Cy Young every year with the stuff they have, and Suárez has proven he has the potential to be one of the great pitchers in this league.

The question for the rotation is can they remain healthy? Suárez is already battling an elbow issue, and if Nola or Wheeler struggle with injury the rotation slims out very fast. Taijuan Walker and Bailey Falter are the projected four and five starters once Suárez returns. It is important that those two are able to pick up as many innings as possible to take the stress off the front three, so they can remain healthy during the season and hopefully for another playoff run. 

The bullpen was the weakest group on this Phillies squad last season, and the moves made in the offseason should help address some concerns. The depth of the bullpen is the best improvement, adding guys like Soto, Kimbrel, and Strahm along with also having José Alvardo and Seranthony Domínguez makes this bullpen now very formidable. The bullpen is filled with power arms from the right and the left side. The biggest concern is control issues and Alvardo and Soto’s lack of control may show at some points, but the stuff they have should make up for it.           

Player to Watch #1: SS Trea Turner

Turner is an MVP-caliber player and got paid like one this off-season. The Phillies will need him to produce like an MVP this season with the loss in offensive production due to the Harper and Hoskins injuries. His combination of speed, power, and elite athleticism should allow him to do so. 

Regardless of what happens this season to the Phils, he is must-see television when it comes to exciting baseball players. He plays an exciting brand of baseball and could be a 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases or 30 home runs and 40 stolen bases type of hitter because of his new found power and larger bases. If I were a betting man an MVP trophy might be in his future.      

Player to Watch #2: OF, Christian Pache

Now, this is an interesting situation. How did this former top prospect of a division rival just two years ago end up in Philadelphia? Pache was one of the big pieces in the Matt Olsen deal and was seen as a player with a great amount of potential. He struggled offensively last year, and those struggles continued into spring training this year. Oakland decided to make the confusing move of trading the high-potential 24 year old outfielder to the Phillies for minor leaguer Billy Sullivan.

A confusing move for an A’s team that should only be looking for young guys with potential and taking chances on them, could end up creating a dream scenario for the Phillies. Pache has never had trouble in the field, he’s a plus defender and is seen as a guy who can be a multi-time Gold Glove winner. It has always been a question of whether the bat will come along. 

He has a good frame at 6’2” and 215 lbs, so there has to be some power in his bat. A place like the Phillies may be a good spot for him, never a bad thing to be around a bunch of great hitters, especially guys with so many different skill sets at the plate. I would love for him to spend time picking the brains of Castellanos and Turner specifically, as both are very good at using the whole field and getting the bat on the ball. 

It will be interesting to see if the Phillies can find something with Pache at the plate, if not he can be the team’s Jackie Bradley Jr. and be able to play gap-to-gap defense in CF.           

Player to Watch #3: P, Noah Song

I have a personal connection to this one. I pride myself as a Phillies writer by day, but I’m a Red Sox fan by night. Noah Song is personally one of my favorite players I have ever watched in the short time he was in the Red Sox System. This year, the same man that drafted him out of Navy, Dombrowski, took him in the Rule 5 draft this year.

Song only made seven minor-league appearances after being drafted by the Red Sox in the fourth round in 2019. Song was a highly touted talent coming out of college and probably would have gone higher in the draft if he did not go to the Naval Academy. Due to his enrollment at the university, he had to serve time in the Navy, and there were questions about whether he was going to be granted a release to play baseball. He was not granted the release till fittingly right after he was selected in the Rule 5 draft this year by the Phillies. This broke my heart, but that’s not the point of this article.

Song will be on the 40-man of the Phillies for this upcoming season and has never pitched above the Low-A level, so it will be interesting to see how the Phillies handle his training and ramp him up to pitch in the bigs. Garrett Whitlock is the most recent example of something somewhat like this working out, and it is working out pretty well for the Sox.

The Phillies were willing to use a 40-man spot on him, and I think that speaks highly of the player the organization believes he can become. I’m excited to see if they can help Song get back the talent he once was highly rated to have.    

Position Group to Watch: Lefty Bullpen Arms

Alvardo, Soto, and Strahm, there are not many teams, or maybe any teams that can say they have a trio of lefties with as much potential. If control issues do not hamper Alvardo and Soto, look out, because the backend of this bullpen could be scary late in games. 

Strahm is also an extremely underrated arm, he won’t be the best reliever in the league, but he generates a lot of swing-and-miss which could allow him to rack up a lot of strikeouts in key situations. Vasquez is another lefty in the bullpen, but I do not see him having the same effect on the outcome of games as those three do.  

2023 Record Prediction: 88-74

I think the Phillies will be able to run with the momentum they grasped at the end of last year and carry that through the first half with Harper and remain in the race for the NL East. The addition of Trea Turner should help them stay afloat offensively for the most part, and the addition of Harper will only make this lineup stronger.

I believe they will pick a 1B at the deadline to replace some of the production lost from Hoskins, and possibly another pitcher depending on the health of the staff at the time. With the NL East remaining so strong at the top with the Braves and Mets, it will be hard for the Phillies to go too far above the 88-win mark in my opinion. 88 wins should be enough, or extremely close to enough wins to get them in the playoffs again for another magical run at citizens bank.    

Categories: 2023 Season Preview, Articles, Season Analysis

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1 reply

  1. I really like this article you put together about the Philadelphia Phillies. Everything sounds accurate or the way I would put it. I would definitely say one of the players to watch is Trea Turner. Trea Turner is going to have a great year!!!! He had an amazing spring!!! Even more impressive was what he did in the World Baseball Classic. I would have also included what he did in the World Baseball Classic. I would have put that right after you talked about them going into the off-season. I think if you would’ve put that, then there could have been one more exciting highlight. Overall fantastic job though!! I love your article. Please come and check out my blog. Can you please come read, follow, and subscribe to my blog? As of so far I have 11 subscribers. I am trying to expand my audience. It would mean a lot if you could be another subscriber. Here is the link to my blog: https://sophiakd4.wordpress.com. Thank you so much!!!!

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