The 2022 Philadelphia Phillies single-handedly “justified” the expanded Postseason format when they finished a distant third place in the NL East with 88 wins, but secured the final Wild Card spot and proceeded to make it all the way to Game 6 of the World Series. Perhaps realizing that they’ve suddenly got a window of opportunity here, the Phillies didn’t rest on their laurels and instead got busy upgrading their roster ahead of this upcoming season.
Expectations for 2023
After shockingly coming within two wins of a World Series title in their first Postseason appearance since 2011, the expectations are sunny in Philadelphia. Their offseason sure helped to raise expectations as well, as most of the additions they made were objectively good ones for the Phillies. The big issue is that Bryce Harper will miss a big chunk of the season after he underwent Tommy John Surgery in order to repair that torn UCL that he played with for most of last season. The Phillies do have the talent to hold down the fort without Harper, but will it be enough to keep up with or even surpass the Braves and Mets? I still don’t see that happening, but this is absolutely a team that should be taken very seriously.
Numbers-wise, this is a team projected for 85-87 wins as a central estimate. They don’t look to have much of a chance to take the division, as most of the odds are divvied up between the Braves in the Mets, but have better than a coin flip’s shot of making the playoffs given the strength of their roster and the fact that nearly half the league makes the playoffs now.
Via Roster Resource:
Lineup: Trea Turner (SS), Kyle Schwarber (LF), Rhys Hoskins (1B), J.T. Realmuto (C), Nick Castellanos (RF), Darick Hall (DH), Alec Bohm (3B), Bryson Stott (2B), Brandon Marsh (CF)
Bench: Garrett Stubbs (C), Josh Harrison (UTIL), Edmundo Sosa (UTIL), Jake Cave (OF)
Rotation: Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Taijuan Walker, Ranger Suarez, Bailey Falter
Bullpen: Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Alvarado, Craig Kimbrel, Gregory Soto, Andrew Bellatti, Matt Strahm, Connor Brogdon, Michael Plassmeyer
I know that their lineup is usually what we talk about, but it’s not going to be operating to its full potential until Bryce Harper gets back. Until then, Philadelphia’s rotation can definitely get the job done. Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler have truly formed a very formidable 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation, while Ranger Suarez and Taijuan Walker should both slot in quite nicely in the third and fourth spots. As long as they don’t have a complete black hole in the fifth spot, this is a potentially underrated rotation that could be very tough to deal with and is worthy of its top-five-in-MLB projection.
The other huge strength of this roster is having Trea Turner, which gives Philadelphia the best aggregate shortstop projection around.
Between J.T. Realmuto at catcher, Turner at short, Harper’s eventual return giving the Phillies some real firepower out of DH, and the rotation, this kind of feels like a stars-and-scrubs roster, but it’s pretty heavy on the stars.
This is where not having Bryce Harper really hurts them, because their outfield doesn’t look great at all. They’re not going to get away with being terrible with the glove forever, though Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber will go down swinging while trying their best to get away with it. Maybe it won’t matter if they get back to the postseason and start raking again but for the time being, this outfield isn’t the most imposing-looking group.
In particular, Brandon Marsh looks like one of the worst full-time center fielders in the league. Though he’s tormented the Braves pretty often since being acquired at the Trade Deadline last year, Marsh has been average thus far in his career and has really struggled with lefties, though the Phillies lack any useful platoon options. Second base, third base, and right field all look pretty weak too, as none of Stott, Bohm, or Castellanos looked like regulars last year (Castellanos didn’t really look like a major leaguer).
Reinforcements from the Farm
The good news for the Phillies is that they’ve got a top-heavy farm at the moment where they have two consensus top-50 prospects in the form of Andrew Painter and Mick Abel. Both of them are pitchers and Painter in particular is rated as one of the top prospects in all of baseball heading into this season. Other than those two, Philadelphia’s farm system isn’t exactly highly-regarded and it hasn’t been for a few seasons now. As long as they’ve got enough to help the big league roster every now and then and maybe use some prospects to be traded then they don’t seem too bothered with the state of the farm.
Still, Johan Rojas could be asked to join the big league club and platoon with Marsh sooner rather than later. Hans Crouse hasn’t had much professional success as a starter, but seems ripe for a relief conversion and promotion to the majors.
Braves history/outlook against the Phillies
Folks, it’s the Phillies. You know them, you probably loathe them, and if you’re like me then you’re champing at the bit to hopefully watch the Braves set the record straight against the team that ended their World Series title defense. These should be 13 spicy divisional games coming up this season and I’m hoping to see a moment similar to when Dan Uggla crushed the dreams and hopes of these fans back in 2014.
Though the Phillies knocked them out of the playoffs last year, the Braves went 11-8 against them in the regular season. Though the matchups have been close, the Phillies last took a season series from the Braves in 2019, and haven’t won back-to-back season series against Atlanta since 2010-2011, which is kind of funny given that the Braves had a rebuilding stretch in there that the Phillies couldn’t take advantage of.
The Braves won’t see the Phillies in 2023 until late May, when the latter come to town for a four-game weekend set, May 25-28. The Braves won’t visit Philadelphia until late June (20-22) for a three-game series. Then, the remaining six games will all happen in September — in a span of six of nine games against one another, the Braves will visit Philadelphia September 12-14, and then play host September 18-20.