The 2021 Philadelphia Phillies have arrived, as they take on the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park today. Baseball is back!. Ahead of the start of the regular season, here is everything that you need to know.
2021 Philadelphia Phillies: The Starting Lineup
1. Andrew McCutchen, LF
In his second season with the Phillies, Andrew McCutchen had a solid year in 2020, hitting ten home runs and posting an OPS+ of 103. McCutchen works counts, and gets on base, making him an ideal leadoff hitter for this team. Now 34 years old and two years removed from an ACL tear, McCutchen should be fresh heading into 2021.
2. J.T. Realmuto, C
The Phillies’ front office finally made a good decision by bringing back J.T. Realmuto on a 5 yr 115.5M contract. After suffering a broken thumb in spring training, Realmuto appears to be set for opening day. The best defensive catcher in baseball, Realmuto has excellent power, making him the best catcher in MLB heading into 2021.
3. Bryce Harper, RF
In his second season with Philadelphia, Bryce Harper was fantastic in 2020, posting an OPS+ of 159. Defensively, he’s much improved as well. Harper has embraced the city of Philadelphia, and as the face of the team, there will be a ton of pressure on him to perform. At his best, Harper is an NL MVP candidate.
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
Rhys Hoskins caught heat in the second half of 2020, prior to suffering an elbow injury that ultimately led to Tommy John surgery. Hoskins does a great job at drawing walks but sometimes gets himself into trouble when he is not aggressive enough. If he reaches his full potential in 2021, Hoskins could be a first-time All-Star.
5. Alec Bohm, 3B
Alec Bohm had high expectations coming into 2020, and he performed, finishing second in the NL Rookie of the Year race. Bohm does a great job at driving runs in, and he hit .338 in 160 at-bats. Sure, fans would love to see more power out of him, but at age 24, Bohm has an extremely bright future that begins in 2021.
6. Didi Gregorius, SS
After a solid year in 2020, Didi Gregorius re-signed with the Phillies for 2021 on a 2 yr 28M deal. Gregorius fits in nicely in this lineup as a left-handed bat with great power for a shortstop. He’s nothing special and likely won’t be an All-Star, but Gregorius’ arrival is a massive move for the 2021 Philadelphia Phillies.
7. Jean Segura, 2B
With Scott Kingery going down to Triple-A and Alec Bohm at third, Jean Segura will be the everyday second baseman for the Phillies in 2021. Segura hits for a high average and flashed more power last season than we had seen up to that point in his career. For a seven-hole hitter, Segura is an excellent option at second for Philly.
8. Adam Haseley, CF
With Odubel Herrera failing to make the team, Adam Haseley will be the Phillies’ center fielder in 2021. Haseley will likely split time with speedster Roman Quinn, and Scott Kingery may make it back to the majors at some point as well. Haseley is clearly the weak spot in this lineup, but he’s a plus defender who does a decent job at getting on base.
2021 Philadelphia Phillies: Pitching Matchups
Game 1: LHP Max Fried vs. RHP Aaron Nola
For Atlanta, the Braves are rolling with southpaw Max Fried on opening day. Fried broke onto the scene in 2020, going 7-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 56.0 innings of work while finishing fifth in the NL Cy Young race and earning a gold glove. If you haven’t heard of Fried yet, get to know his name because he will be a problem for the Phillies for years to come.
For the fourth consecutive season, Aaron Nola gets the opening day nod for the 2021 Philadelphia Phillies. After a down year in 2019, Nola re-gained his 2018 form in 2020, going 5-5 with a 3.28 ERA in 71.1 innings of work while finishing seventh in the NL Cy Young race. The version of Nola that we saw in 2020 is all we need for him to be considered an ace as the Phillies look to make a playoff push in 2021.
Game 2: RHP Charlie Morton vs. RHP Zack Wheeler
Despite a down year in 2020, Charlie Morton was an excellent pickup for the Braves, and will start game two for Atlanta. Morton had an incredible playoff run in 2018 and followed that up by finishing third in the Cy Young race in 2019. It’s truly unbelievable how much better Morton has gotten since his now forgotten four-game stint with Philadelphia in 2016.
Zack Wheeler was exactly what the Phillies needed as a reliable second starter in 2020, as he went 4-2 in 11 starts with a 2.92 ERA. Wheeler hits the high 90s and limits home runs. The Phillies never had a good second starter behind Aaron Nola, but Zack Wheeler fits that build. Wheeler won’t win a Cy Young, but he’s well worth the money he signed for.
Game 3: RHP Ian Anderson vs. RHP Zach Eflin
Another name for Phillies fans to know, Ian Anderson looked excellent as a rookie for the Braves in 2020. Despite only making six starts, Anderson posted an ERA of 1.95 while striking out 41 batters in 32.1 innings of work. At age 23, Anderson is hoping to have a big season, which will start with a matchup on Sunday against Philly.
While he can be inconsistent at times, Zach Eflin is a very solid third starter in Philadelphia’s rotation. 2020 was arguably the best year of his career as Eflin went 4-2 with a 3.97 ERA in 59.0 innings of work. His two-seam fastball has nasty movement, and he’s improved his offspeed pitches as well. 2021 could be a huge year for Zach Eflin.
2021 Philadelphia Phillies: Where to Watch
The first pitch on Opening Day is slated to be tossed at 3:05 PM on the East Coast. Coverage of this game will be broadcasted on NBSCN Philadelphia. For people like myself who don’t live in the Philadelphia area, you can watch every Phillies game by purchasing MLB Extra innings.
The Phillies are off on Friday before getting back out there with a 4:05 PM EDT game on Saturday and a 1:05 PM EDT game on Sunday. The wait is over, and Phillies baseball is finally back today!
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