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Is this finally the Phillies’ year? | The Triangle

Is this finally the Phillies’ year?

Photo by Peter Bond | Flickr

After being up 3-2 in the 2023 NLCS against the Arizona Diamondbacks and having another World Series trip at their fingertips, the Phillies faltered and lost back-to-back games, ending their season short of their goal. The team has its core back for another season, so the question is: is 2024 finally the year the Phillies not only get back to the World Series, but finish the job?

The biggest free agent question for the Phillies this past offseason was Aaron Nola. President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski made sure the ace did not leave Philadelphia, where he has spent his whole career, signing the righty to a seven-year, $172M deal, solidifying the Phillies pitching rotation which looks to be one of the best in baseball once again. Longtime Phillie Rhys Hoskins signed with the Milwaukee Brewers after missing the entire 2023 season with a torn ACL. Hoskins’ departure was expected, but his clubhouse presence will surely be missed this upcoming season. His absence makes Bryce Harper the full time Phillies first baseman, and allows Brandon Marsh and Johan Rojas to roam left field and center field, respectively, giving the Phillies one of the best outfield defenses in the sport, with both Rojas and Marsh ranking above the 90th percentile in Outs Above Average.

The Phillies infield remains the same from the postseason: Alec Bohm at third, Trea Turner at shortstop, Bryson Stott at second, and Harper at first. Infield defense, which has been an issue for Phillies teams recently, should be solid this season. Bohm was much improved at third last season, Turner is poised to bounce back from a rough season in the field (and at the plate —  more on that later). Stott is a gold-glove caliber defender, and Harper flashed greatness at first base, especially for someone who just learned the position. 

With Harper at first and the aforementioned outfield alignment, Kyle Schwarber, who has always struggled in the field, will now be the team’s full time DH. This will not only improve the Phillies’ defense, but also should improve Schwarber’s approach at the plate, given that he will be more fresh at the dish.

Regarding Trea Turner, his revitalization at the plate in the latter half of the 2023 season is the biggest storyline going into 2024. The Phillies managed to get to 90 wins with Turner being a negative for much of last season; if he is his normal, all-star self for a full season, there is no telling how dangerous this team could be.

The Phillies bullpen, which was great in the regular season but struggled in the playoffs, should again be a dominant unit. Last year’s closer Craig Kimbrel signed with the Baltimore Orioles, but he faltered towards the end of the season and likely would have had a smaller role this year anyway. Last year’s surprise rookie Orion Kerkering now has a full offseason under his belt and can be more comfortable compared to last year, where he was thrown into the fire of the postseason with very few innings pitched. Jose Alvarado and Seranthony Dominguez are also back in the fold, in addition to last year’s rising star Jeff Hoffman.

With essentially the same roster as last year, there are hefty but rightful expectations for the Phillies this season. They have the playoff experience, and as manager Rob Thomson said, got “a taste” of a World Series title. It is now time for the team to rally together and bring a title back to Philadelphia.