By Joshua Liddick
Eight years removed from a World Series championship, the Phillies are in an excellent position to rebound in 2016 and beyond with a new wave of executives and new talent.
* Ryan Howard will spend entire season platooning at 1st base from the bench. A career struggle against left-handed pitching, Ryan Howard has the Phillies showing their pessimism in his future with the team. Fans will be getting to know backup Darin Ruf a little better.
* Aaron Nola will be a 15-game winner. Nola, a 2014 first-round draft pick, proved last season he can become the ace in the Phillies’ rotation. Overall wins will be sparse, but will give Nola a fighting chance to be one of the only pitching bright spots for the entire season.
* Young phenom J.P. Crawford and Jake Thompson will be the first midseason call-ups.The rotation appears full at first glance, but there are several uncertainties for the long-term. Former Rangers righty Thompson shows a slew of promise joining fellow youngsters Nola and Jerad Eickhoff as starters. Crawford has enough talent to overtake mediocre shortstop Freddy Galvis as the starter. His batting numbers (.265, 93 hits, 34 RBIs, and seven SBs in 86 games) for Double-
A Reading have been impressive and his field presence is equally fascinating.
* The Phillies will avoid last place and 90 losses with a 73-89 record, a fourth place finish in the National League East. The Phillies will make a small turnaround record-wise from last season’s collapse. With the Atlanta Braves still a much weaker team all-around, it’s certain that the bright spots highlighted will be enough to escape the cellar, preparing Philadelphia fans for that ever magical 2017 that the city has been anticipating.