It’s opening day! The time for untethered optimism. The roster is set – and with the majority of the roster un-previewed, let’s do a quick run-down of everyone who made it. Phans, this is your team!
J.P. Crawford – Shortstop of the future, and the future is now. His plate discipline is as good as his power is bad.
Scott Kingery – Came up as a second baseman, but is blocked at his natural position. The hope is that he manages to be a Ben Zobrist type – fills in where he’s needed on the field so that he gets ample opportunities to bolster the lineup.
Maikel Franco – The 2018 season is his last chance to prove his worth. He won’t even have the full season to prove it with Kingery breathing down his neck.
Carlos Santana – He’s the safest bet to have a productive season, taking some of the pressure of Rhys Hoskins. 20+ homers and high OBP likely; bad “Smooth” jokes guaranteed.
Jorge Alfaro – Strong but wild with a bat in his hands, “El Oso” fits more than just his physical appearance.
Cesar Hernandez – Fast, underrated, and somehow the longest tenured player on the Phillies.
Andrew Knapp – Pseudo-back up catcher who will be ready to step in if/when Alfaro falters.
Pedro Florimon – Every team needs a light-hitting utility player. Florimon is that.
Nick Williams – Free swinger who’s athleticism allows him to succeed. Whether he sustains his production or not is yet to be determined.
Rhys Hoskins – He will hit 74 home runs and become the President of America. Probably.
Aaron Altherr – Somehow he’s taken a back seat to Williams, but I think Altherr is a dark-horse candidate for the All-Star team.
Odubel Herrera – The best Rule 5 draft pick since Shane Victorino. He has talent, even if his lack of hustle and mental errors are sometimes frustrating.
Aaron Nola – The ace without ace-like velocity. There’s nothing more beautiful than his curveball.
Ben Lively – My pick to lead pitchers in homers. Otherwise, he’ll be unremarkable. #PitchersWhoRake
Vince Velasquez – Like Charlie Brown and the football, I am putting my faith in Velasquez. This is the year he shows what his electric stuff can do.
Nick Pivetta – The 6.02 ERA wasn’t pretty, but his decent strike-out numbers hint that he should be able to stick in the rotation. Just…the back end of it.
Drew Hutchison – Last pitched in the majors in 2016. Has primarily been a starter in his career but will likely serve as long reliever while Leiter is out (flexor strain). Low 90s fastball, decent strikeout/walk but likely to serve up his share of homers.
Jake Thompson – Thompson’s hopes of joining the rotation ended when Jake Arrieta was signed. His move to the bullpen will be interesting, as he’s spent almost the entirety of his career as a starter. His peripherals weren’t great last year, but hopefully they improve since he won’t need to worry about conserving energy for longer outings.
Adam Morgan – Relegated to the bullpen after a less-than-inspiring 2016, Morgan’s 2017 was much more successful. His spring training was a step further in the right direction – he’s earned his spot on the staff.
Hector Neris – When that fastball and splitter are moving, he’s one of the better pitchers in baseball. He’s made a habit of “bend don’t break”, which is scary. May he continue bending this season.
Hoby Milner – I have never seen the name “Hoby” before. According to nameslist.org (and we should believe what we read on the internet), only 84 people in the United States have the first name “Hoby”. Hey, if 1 out of 84 Hobys make the majors, you might want to consider naming your next kid Hoby.
Luis Garcia – His fastball averaged 95.9 MPH in 2017, fastest on the Phillies. He cut down his walks, homers, and hard contact to become a reliable reliever and will look to continue that success in 2018.
Edubray Ramos – Edubray’s terrible BABIP luck obscured serious improvement. He’s a good pitcher.
Victor Arano – He pitched 10.2 innings for the Phillies last year and had a 1.69 ERA. That’s One Point Nice.
Pat Neshek – This side-arm pitcher was the Phillies lone all-star last season. He’s listed as a switch-hitter and, in a 12-year career, has amassed 0 plate appearances.
Some notable omissions: Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Mark Leiter Jr. – none of these players are on the 25-man opening day roster (and hence didn’t receive blurbs). In Arrieta’s case, he was optioned to the minors to stretch out some more (his debut is planned for April 8th). In Hunter and Leiter’s case, they are on the DL to start the season.
My prediction for the year? Well, I did say in the beginning that it was the time for untethered optimism, so I’ll peg them at 82 wins this year. Bonus prediction: they’ll play meaningful games in September for the first time since 2012.
Let’s go Phillies!