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Phillies Spring Recap and Regular Season Preview



In 6 days, the Philadelphia Phillies quest to finish what they could not finish in 2022 will begin in Dallas, Texas. With spring training wrapping up down in Clearwater, Fla., we are seeing more clarity of the opening day lineup and answering some of the biggest roster questions.


The Phillies entered 2022 with high expectations, but after a slow start the NL's longest playoff draught looked to continue. However, after a managerial change, a Rob Thompson led club went on an improbable run that ended in the World Series. Heading into 2023 the club will have a full season under Rob Thompson. Dave Dombrowski continued to bring in big ticket free agents with Trea Turner, Taijuan Walker, and Craig Kimbrel.


There were many questions headed into the spring. How will the Phillies look in Bryce Harper's absence? Will the offense continue to progress? Who will start the season in AAA? With opening day next week, many questions have been answered. Let's recap the spring and look ahead to 2023!

 
Injuries

Injuries are unfortunately a difficult part of the game. The Phillies are no exception that injuries will hurt a team no matter what. The Phillies suffered three significant injuries this spring. Pitchers Ranger Suarez and Andrew Painter as well as 1B Rhys Hoskins all suffered significant injuries this spring. Each will bring different challenges to the ballclub.


Ranger Suarez

While pitching in an exhibition game for Venezuela before the World Baseball Classic, Suarez felt some pain in his left forearm. He left the WBC early and returned back to Clearwater. Suarez was expected to start the 3rd or 4th game of the regular season, but according to Manager Rob Thompson, there is a "strong possibility" that Suarez misses his first and second starts of the season. The Phillies do not believe he will miss significant time or will go on the IL, but they are taking precautions with Suarez.


Andrew Painter

The Phillies top prospect suffered a UCL injury and was shut down for four weeks. He is scheduled to resume throwing mid-April. Many fans were eager and hoping to see Painter make the Opening Day roster. The 19-year-old was having a decent Spring before the injury. In some ways this helps the Phillies. This will allow Painter more to rehab and develop. He is the future ace of the club, so they want to take every precaution they can.


The Phillies pitching depth suffered a couple other injuries throughout spring. LHP Christopher Sanchez and RHP Nick Nelson both suffered arm injuries this spring. This will open the door for Bailey Falter, Matt Strahm, and Andrew Bellatti to get early starts in 2023. Later we will discuss who should get the starts.


Rhys Hoskins

The toughest loss this Spring. Hoskins suffered an ACL tear in his left knee Thursday afternoon. Hoskins will need to undergo surgery to repair the tear and is expected to miss the entire 2023 season. With this being a contract year for Hoskins, this could have been the last game for Hoskins, and if it is he will leave as a fan favorite! Hoskins offense will be hard to replace. Darick Hall is expected to replace Hoskins at first. This spring Hall is batting .319, 15 hits, 5 HRs, and 11 RBI's.


Hall will be tasked to replace Hoskins on the field production; however Hoskins leadership will be greatly missed. Hoskins was a great locker room guy and someone everyone respected and loved.


Bryce Harper

Harper began taking practice swings and swings off the tee this spring. When asked about a potential return date for Harper, both Rob Thompson and Dave Dombrowski both believe there is a chance Harper never goes on the 60-day IL, which would allow him to return to the lineup prior to May 28. This would be huge boost to club. With both Hoskins and Harper out of the lineup, the Phillies two leading home run hitters from the 2022 postseason will be missing. Nick Castellanos is still expected to remain the RF. If Harper ever returns to RF this season will be a different story.



 
World Baseball Classic Phillies Takeaways'

1 Trea Turner is the best SS in baseball, and we get to watch him every day!


The hero for Team USA was easily Trea Turner. He tied the WBC record for homeruns (5), which included the game winning Grand Slam against Venezuela. He batted .391 for the entire tournament. Turner was having a great Spring and was batting .400 with 2 HRs in 5 games with the Phillies. The addition of Turner to the lineup is a huge boost for his hitting ability and his elite speed. He proved to be the hero for Team USA and he already looks to be in mid-season form.



2. Jose Alvarado looks sharp.

Phillies relief pitcher Jose Alvarado had a great World Baseball Classic. Last season he had a rollercoaster of a season. He struggled, sent down to AAA, returned to the majors, and then was one of the best relief pitchers in the playoffs. Alvarado looked great for Venezuela. In 3 games, he recorded 1 save and had an ERA of 0.00. I was curious if he would build off his postseason success and he look better than 2022. It is still unclear who Topper will go with as the 9th inning guy, but Alvarado really made his case heard!


3. I can't wait for Schwarberfest

Let Kyle do the talking on this one!



 
4 biggest takeaways from the spring

1. Phillies look like serious contenders to repeat as NL Champs

The Phillies offense still looks to be playing at an elite level. The Phillies offense was the key to their success in 2022. Of the expected 9 offensive starters, all of them have at least 1 HR and all but one are batting at least over .200. The Phillies 3 biggest bats on Opening Day (Turner, Schwarber, Realmuto) were all seeing the ball very well in the WBC, and Castellanos is starting to learn more plate discipline. If the offense can continue to be elite, then they will put the Phillies right back into playoff contention.


2. The Phillies finally have a decent farm system

The biggest reason for the Phillies long playoff draught was they never had any farm system. For years they were forced to play guys that were not ready for the MLB. The pitching staff has Andrew Painter and Mick Abdel. They both may be a few years away from getting consistent MLB starts, but they both are the future. Guys like Jake Cave and Kody Clemens are two guys Phillies fans should be excited about in the future.


3. Bryson Stott adjusted defensively but offensively is starting slow

With the addition of Trea Turner to the lineup, Stott moved from SS to 2B. Defensively, Stott made the adjustment very well. He still has some things he needs to work out, but he does seem more comfortable at 2B than he did sometimes at SS. His offense has struggled this spring. He only batted .188 this spring. He struggled offensively throughout the playoffs with some big showings, but he will need to continue to progress offensively.


4. The bullpen is finally deep, but the order is still unclear

The Achillies heal for the Phillies the last 5 years was their bullpen. A historically bad bullpen in fact. During the second half of the 2022 season, the Phillies bullpen was phenomenal. So many games they would come in and shut out their opponents. They lost a couple of former starters turned bullpen guys in Zach Eflin and Noah Snydergaard, but they added All-star relief pitchers Gregory Soto and Craig Kimbrel. With Seranthony Domiguez and Jose Alvarado both returning, with a bunch of younger guys returning, the Phillies bullpen has depth, it is still unclear who Topper will go with in the 8th and 9th innings.


One thing we learned from Topper last season is he adjusts his pitching rotation a lot. I believe we could see guys who get early starts come out of the bullpen towards the end of the season and maybe some bullpen guys get starts later in the season.



 
3 biggest questions heading into 2023.

1. The pitching

Aaron Nola and Zach Wheeler both pitched phenomenal in the postseason, but really died off during the World Series. Both have been finalist for the Cy Young within the last few seasons. Will they finally pitch at an "ace" status or will their World Series struggles push over to 2023? Taijuan Walker was the big signing this offseason but struggled this spring. Is the Ranger Suarez injury serious? Who will be the 5th starter and will that individual end the season as the 5th starter? In the bullpen, will they continue to play elite or will they digress.


2. Will Alec Bohm's strong spring replicate in the regular season?

Bohm had a very quiet but strong spring. He bated .255 with 8 RBI's, and 4 HRs. He looked really strong defensively which was a struggle throughout the season for him. I expected a big step up for Bohm in 2023 after he really matured throughout last year. He was arguably the MVP for the spring based off his big success from both his offense and defense, and I hope we see that throughout 2023.


3. How will Darick Hall do in Rhys Hoskins absence?

Hall is primarily a DH with little playing time at 1B. He was expected to be the DH in Bryce Harper's absence, but with Hoskins expected to miss all of 2023, Hall should be the starter at 1B. Offensively I believe Hall can prove his worth to this lineup. He hit fairly well in his 30 games for the Phillies in 2022 in Harper's absence. It is defense that I am concerned with. The Phillies struggled defensively in 2022, and Hall's question marks is concerning.


 
3 bold predictions ahead of the Phillies 2023 season.

1. Phillies lead the MLB in homeruns

Trea Turner looks great after leading the entire tournament in homeruns. Kyle Schwarber was right behind and is the reigning homerun leader in the NL. Guys like Nick Castellanos, Alec Bohm, Darick Hall, and Bryson Stott have proven time and time again that they can hit the ball out. Kevin Long is one of the best hitting coaches in baseball. Whenever Harper rejoins the lineup it will only get better. The entire Phillies lineup from 1-9 have the ability to hit the ball out.


2. Phillies enter the postseason as a wild card

"Didn't you just say they look like serious contenders to repeat as NL Champs?" Yes, they are. The NL East is a very tough division. The Braves and Mets are both very tough teams whose roster is still built for a championship. The biggest question mark for the Phillies is the pitching. They have the pieces to be a top tier rotation and bullpen, but every player has had their struggles. I believe the NL East will have 3 postseason teams, but it will be fight for the Division Championship. The Phillies make the playoffs, but I expect the Atlanta Braves win another NL East title.


3. Phillies have multiple award finalists.

The Phillies have serious contenders for many major end of the season awards. Trea Turner can be the MVP and he looks like one right now. If he can continue the hot bat and is a decent defender, Darick Hall is a Rookie of the Year candidate. I expect after a strong postseason and pitching with so much more confidence, Aaron Nola can and will be a Cy Young finalist. Finally, Rob Thomspon was robbed of Manager of the Year in 2022, imagine if he has an even better 2023? The Phillies team has a lot of talent and I expect breakout years from Nola and Turner, and the Phillies will add a lot to their trophy case.


 
Projected Opening Day Lineup

1 Trea Turner SS

2. Alec Bohm 3B

3. JT Realmuto C

4. Kyle Schwarber LF

5. Nick Castellanos RF

6. Darick Hall 1B

7. Brandon Marsh CF

8. Bryston Stott SS

9. Jake Cave DH


SP Aaron Nola*

*Announced as the Opening Day starter for a 6th straight season!



The Hoskins injury opens the door for Cave to get the call on opening day as the DH. There still is an option for Cave to play LF and Schwarber to play LF. I feel when Harper is able to return to the field, we could see a mix-up in the outfield with Castellanos to LF, Harper to RF, and Schwarber to DH.


 
The 2023 Philadelphia Phillies season is finally upon us! We are talkin' about the Fightins!

Follow me on Twitter as I cover the Phillies and Iron Pigs all season long and their quest to the Fall Classic!


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