To understand the enthusiasm of the Phillies fan base surrounding this upcoming season. We must first delve back into a heartbreaking 2021 season in which almost everything that could have gone wrong did.
Looking Back at 2021
Ace Aaron Nola had a down year, Rhys Hoskins struggled in finding his swing for most of the year, the regression of rookie of the year runner-up Alec Bohm, defensive lapses, and the bullpen gave up 32 blown saves. There were some bright spots in Zack Wheeler being a finalist for the Cy Young, the breakout of starting pitcher Ranger Suarez, the trade for Kyle Gibson, the consistency of JT Realmuto, Jean Segura contributing on both sides of the ball after a down year in 2020, and Bryce Harper winning his second National League MVP award.
President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski had a plan and vision to correct this team after a full year of evaluation. He snagged Preston Mattingly away from the Padres organization to be their director of player development. He snatched Ani Kilambi from the Rays organization to become an assistant to general manager Sam Fuld. Adding experienced hitting coach Kevin Long from the Nationals and infield coach Bobby Dickerson from the Padres to Joe Girardi‘s staff.
Future is Now
Although it was just spring training, fans were treated to a showcase of just how productive this lineup can be with the additions of Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos. Mickey Moniak, the 2016 first overall pick, was without a doubt the biggest surprise by hitting .378 with five home runs. It’s worth noting that Moniak who was battling it out with Vierling (.222) for playing time in centerfield and top prospect Bryson Stott (.406) was competing with incumbent Bohm (.222) at third base were in with the starters for the final tune-up game of the spring training. The overall defense did not seem to be an issue as some MLB analysts predicted.
Regarded as one of the best rotations in baseball. Nola, Wheeler, Eflin, Gibson, Suarez head into the season healthy. Although not exactly in the order one might have expected due to the late spring starts for Suarez (visa issues) and Wheeler (workload). Nola seems ready for opening day after pitching a gem in his final start of spring training.
Addressing the Biggest Issue
With the additions of Brad Hand, Jeurys Familia, Corey Knebel along with holdovers Brogdon, Alvarado, Coonrod, and a healthy Dominguez make for a formidable bullpen. Knebel looked every bit this spring like the stud fans envisioned when the Phillies inked him to a one-year deal to close out games.
With so much to look forward to. This writer cannot wait to see how this season unfolds. These fans have not been this excited about a Philadelphia Phillies team since the days of Charlie Manuel and the 2008 World Series.
LET’S GO PHILLIES!
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