The Philadelphia Phillies come into the season as the No. 4 contenders in the National League East behind the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, and New York Mets, respectively. They lead the lowly Miami Marlins by a large margin and look to rebound from an 81-81 2019 campaign which began with high hopes following a busy 2019 offseason.
Philadelphia already enters the shortened 60-game season with some question marks. Starting pitcher Aaron Nola tested positive for COVID-19 prior to camp. SP Zack Wheeler, the team’s marquee 2020 free agent signing, has admitted he’s unsure if he’ll play this season amid the health concerns with his wife – who is due to give birth in July. Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, and Spencer Howard are next in line for starting pitching, while Francisco Liriano and Nick Pivetta could shift to the rotation.
Most of the offense returns for 2020 and SS Didi Gregorius was signed in free agency. Outfielder Corey Dickerson, 3B Maikel Franco, and 2B Cesar Hernandez are the most notable losses. Utility man Scott Kingery is expected to take over at second base.
Pressure will be on OF Bryce Harper after struggling in the first half of 2019 following the signing of his high-profile free agent deal. He was able to turn it around late and finished with 35 home runs and a .882 OPS.
Like Harper, catcher J.T. Realmuto also turned it around in the second half of the season after struggling at the plate in his first half-campaign with the Phillies. Outfielder Andrew McCutchen was one of the few members of the offense to get off to a strong start, but his season was lost to an ACL tear in early June. He should be in the 2020 Opening Day lineup.
The Phillies’ 2020 MLB season will start Friday, July 24, with a five-game homestand against the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees. They’ll play a 10-game homestand July 7 – July 16 against the Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, and New York Mets. The season will end on a six-game road swing against the Washington Nationals and Tampa Bay Rays, with the final game of the regular season set for Sunday, Sept. 27.
Philadelphia Phillies odds
Phillies betting breakdown
2019 Record: 81-81
Key Losses: OF Corey Dickerson, RHP Jerad Eickhoff, 3B Maikel Franco, 2B Cesar Hernandez, RHP Jared Hughes, OF Mikie Mahtook, IF Brad Miller, 1B Logan Morrison, RHP Juan Nicasio, UT Sean Rodriguez, RHP Edubray Ramos, LHP Drew Smyly, LHP Jason Vargas
Key Additions: IF Logan Forsythe, SS Didi Gregorius, IF Josh Harrison, LHP Francisco Liriano, RHP Anthony Swarzak, IF Ronald Torreyes, IF Neil Walker, RHP Zack Wheeler
1. LF Andrew McCutchen (R)
2. C J.T. Realmuto (R)
3. F Bryce Harper (L)
4. 1B Rhys Hoskins (R)
5. SS Didi Gregorious (L)
6. 2B Jean Segura (R)
7. 3B Scott Kingery (R)
8. F Adam Haseley (L)
Projected Rotation: RHP Aaron Nola, RHP Zack Wheeler, RHP Jake Arrieta, RHP Zach Eflin, RHP Vince Velasquez or RHP Nick Pivetta
Projected Closer: RHP Hector Neris
Bullpen Strengths: Neris returns after a 2.93 ERA in 68 Games (49 GF) with 89 SO and 28 Saves. Veteran Francisco Liriano will likely shore up one of the final bullpen spots. Liriano is coming off a 2019 where he posted a 3.47 ERA in 69 Games (70.0 IP) and 63 SO with the Pirates. Tommy Hunter could return after a torn flexor injury limited him to five games in 2019. Hunter posted a 3.80 ERA in 2018 and a 2.61 ERA in 2017 with the Rays.
Bullpen Weaknesses: The bullpen situation is a bit murky depending on when the season starts due to various injuries. Anthony Swarzak may take one of those final spots in the pen. Swarzak went 3-4 with a 4.56 ERA in 59 Games in 2019 with the Mariners and Braves.
Key stats from 2019
- J.T. Realmuto had a .767 OPS before the All-Star break and a .892 OPS after (MLB).
- Realmuto became the 10th catcher ever to win both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award in the same season.
- Andrew McCutchen had a .378 OBP (2nd in MLB among leadoff men) before his ACL tear on June 3. Phillies leadoff men had a .295 OBP the rest of the season (29th in MLB) (Athlon).
- Attendance went from 2.1 million in 2018 to 2.7 million in 2019, after signing Bryce Harper.