The Philadelphia Phillies enter the 2021 season with avery similar roster as last year’s squad.
It took awhile, but the Phillies front office successfully resigned two of the top players on the team, shortstop Didi Gregorius and catcher JT Realmuto. Realmuto was signed to a five-year deal worth $115 million and Gregorius was brought back on a two-year deal worth $28 million. These two moves will keep the Phillies offense as the strength of the team, as the bullpen and starting rotation still have many question marks. If the Phillies want to overcome their 10-year playoff drought, a select group of guys will need to step up in a very talented NL East division.
Here are five players who must step up in 2021 in order for the Phillies to finally reach October baseball again.
Nola enters the 2021 season as the undisputed ace of the staff.
Nola’s been on the decline since his near Cy Young campaign in 2018. After posting a 2.37 ERA in 212.2 innings in 2018, he has combined for a 3.72 ERA in 273.2 innings in 2019-2020. In August of 2020, Nola looked to be back to Cy Young form as he went 3-1 in five starts posting a 2.35 ERA, but when the Phillies needed him most in September and October as they were trying for the last wildcard spot, Nola was not the big game ace the team needed him to be.
Nola posted a 3.57 ERA in six starts and the Phillies ultimately missed out on the playoffs yet again. If Aaron Nola can return to 2018 form in 2021, the Phillies could have one of the more dominate top end rotations in Major league baseball.
Rhys Hoskins has been a solid hitter for the Phillies for a few years now but it still feels like he is not showing his true potential at the plate just yet.
Hoskins has been plagued by the same issues his entire career. He stares at way to many in the zone fastballs, he can’t avoid the major slump, and his defense has been below average for his entire career. In a lineup filled with talent, Hoskins will most likely find himself in the middle of it.
Hoskins finally seemed to be finding his groove last year, but a season ending wrist injury on a errant throw by JT Realmuto leaves more questions to be answered in 2021. Rhys batted .245 with 10 homeruns in 151 at bats last season. Entering 2021, Rhys will be a major part of the offenses success.
If Rhys can up his batting average about 10-15 points and avoid injuries and month long slumps, the Phillies could have one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball.
Alec Bohm was everything that the Phillies have been hoping for since they drafted him in 2018 out of Wichita State.
Bohm, the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year runner up is poised to have a breakout season as the Phillies everyday third baseman in 2021. All Alec Bohm did in 2020 was hit. His contact and opposite field approach made him look like a seasoned veteran last season, and the hope is he continues to grow into a top third baseman in the league.
In 160 at bats as a rookie, Bohm batted an incredible .338. He also showed his clutch ability as he had multiple walk off hits for the Phillies in a shortened season.
The biggest question mark remains on the defensive end. Bohm showed flashes of being a solid defender but he still isn’t fully there, as he made some costly errors in 2020. Luckily for Bohm, Didi Gregorius’s return to the team will make the left side of the infield solid as Didi has some of the best range in all of Major League Baseball.
If Bohm continues to improve as a hitter, he and Bryce Harper could be a very special offensive combo for years to come.
The Phillies have added depth to their starting rotation in the past few weeks by signing veterans Matt Moore and Chase Anderson. In my opinion signing these two veterans, were a waste of money as they could have combined the money to get one solid starters.
Moore and Anderson are two major question marks and it is unclear if they will even make the five-man rotation. Eflin will enter a major role in 2021 as the team’s number three starter behind Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler.
Eflin looked much improved in 2020 as his tempo and control took major leaps from his previous campaigns. He went 4-2 with a 3.97 ERA in 59 innings in 2020. If Eflin can repeat his 2020 campaign the Phillies starting rotation will definitely be one of the team’s strengths.
What encouraged me most about Eflin’s 2020 season was his ability to go late in games. With so many of the Phillies back end starters struggling to get deep in the game, it’s up to Nola, Wheeler, and Eflin to minimize the workload of a bullpen that was one of the worst in league history in 2020.
Even though the Phillies made moves to improve the bullpen, it will take months before the fans being to trust the unit again, so for now the rotation must step up.
New Members of the Bullpen
In 2020, the Phillies blew countless games late and no matter what pitcher it was, no one could get the job done. Some of the memorable names of the 2020 Phillies bullpen that ruined the lives of Phillies fans all over the country were, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, David Phelps, Tommy Hunter, and Cole Irvin.
The past is the past, and the Phillies made some interesting moves to try and fix the disaster this bullpen was in 2020. The Phillies brought in some new pieces who throw in the upper 90s, something the Phillies bullpen has lacked in previous years.
Archie Bradley, a former closer for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Jose Alvarado, a 100+ MPH left hander from the AL Champion Tampa Bay Rays, and Sam Coonrod, a hard throwing right hander from the San Francisco Giants.
Archie Bradley posted a 2.95 ERA in 2020 with six saves in 18.1 innings. Alvarado struggled in 2020, but was a big part the team reached the World Series as manager Kevin Cash was quick to enter the bullpen all postseason. Sam Coonrod had a 9+ ERA in 2020 but he posted a 3.58 ERA in 2019, so he is a potential breakout candidate. If these three guys can get outs late in games, the Phillies are primed for success.
With Hector Neris returning and the development of Connor Brogden and Serathoney Dominguez, the Phillies pen has the chance to be much improved in 2021.
If these new arms do not fix the bullpen, each game could be an adventure once again in 2021.