Strong line-up including Nola, Wheeler, Suarez bodes well for team
By Molly Kutz
Until 2022, the Phillies had not made an appearance in the playoffs since 2011 and had not seen the World Series since 2009.
In the 2022 season, Philadelphia was best known for their offense as their sluggers helped them make it to the World Series despite the bullpen costing many crucial game losses. Their regular season record was 87-75, ranking them third in the NL East.
For the 2023 season, FanGraphs projects that the Phillies will have an 86-76 record, again ending third overall in the NL East, finishing as the third Wild Card team for the playoffs.
Starting pitcher locks
Returning Pitchers include Zach Wheeler, first starter, Aaron Nola, second starter–who were two critical pieces to the Phillies’ potent offense last season–and lefty pitcher Ranger Suarez, third starter.
With the first three spots taken in the starting rotation, the Phillies brought in former Mets
Taijuan Walker as the fourth starter. The Phillies hope that Walker will be an improvement from former starter Kyle Gibson.
In 2022, Wheeler was 12-7 in 26 starts with a 2.82 ERA and Nola had a 11-13 record with 32 starts and a 3.25 ERA. Suarez had a 10-7 record in 29 starts with a 3.65 ERA. Walker was 12-5 in 29 starts with a 3.49 ERA. Bailey Falter had a 6-4 record with 16 starts and a 3.86 ERA. Andrew Painter is a rookie who awaits his MLB debut.
Number 5 starter candidates
A battle for the fifth starter spot occurs as questions circle superstar 19-year-old prospect Andrew Painter and his UCL injury.
On March 10, the team released a medical update on Painter that stated:
“Andrew Painter underwent an MRI-Arthrogram on March 3, which revealed a right proximal ulnar collateral ligament sprain. Painter sought a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who confirmed a UCL sprain.
Both the Phillies medical staff and Dr. ElAttrache recommended Painter rest for four weeks from the date of injury and then begin a light tossing progression.”
With Painter’s injury, Bailey Falter may be next up for taking over the fifth position. Falter is known for pitching longer outings and proving pitch starts.
Michael Plassmeyer and Cristopher Sanchez are both in the running; however, they will most likely play in Triple-A to gain more experience.
Going into the 2023 season, the bullpen looks strong, as they now have four relief pitchers that can close out a game.
There are many options, with right-handers Seranthony Dominguez and Craig Kimbrel and left-handers Jose Alvarado and Gregory Soto.
Dominguez had nine saves last season and showed promising signs of becoming a full-time closer.
Alvarado had pitched in most of the Phillies’ high-leverage situations but only had two saves. However, he became one of the top left-handed relievers in all of Major League Baseball.
Former Dodger Kimbrel was signed to a one-year deal worth $10 million with the Phillies and has 394 career saves.
Soto, a former Detroit Lion, had 30 saves last season.
These four relievers will help provide the Phillies with a promising future ending games with a win.
In 2022, Dominguez was 6-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 54 appearances with nine saves, Kimbrel was 6-7 with a 3.75 ERA in 63 appearances with 22 saves, Alvarado was 4-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 59 appearances with no saves and Soto was 2-11 with a 3.28 ERA in 64 appearances with 30 saves.
Other bullpen locks include RHP Connor Brogdon, who was 2-2 with a 3.27 ERA in 47 appearances with two saves; RHP Andrew Bellatti, who was 4-4 with a 3.31 ERA in 59 appearances with one save and LHP Matt Strahm, who was 4-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 50 appearances with four saves.
Other bullpen candidates
Other bullpen candidates include Nick Nelson, Falter, Sanchez, Griff McGarry, Sam Coonrod, Yunior Marte, Luis Ortiz, Andrew Vasquez and Plassmeyer.