Friday, March 24, 2017

Philadelphia Phillies 2017 season preview

With a record of 71-91, the Philadelphia Phillies finished 4th in the NL East, 24 GB of the first place Washington Nationals. Former face of the franchise Ryan Howard finally left, after having a bad last couple of seasons. As rebuilders, GM Matt Klentak needed to make the team younger in the offseason. Let's look at what Klentak did.

       Key additions: SP Clay Buchholz, OFs Michael Saunders, Howie Kendrick, RPs Pat Neshek, Joaquin Benoit, Pedro Beato, OFs Chris Coghlan, Daniel Nava, SP Sean Burnett, Cs Ryan Hanigan, Bryan Holaday, SS Pedro Florimon.
       Key subtractions: 1Bs Ryan Howard, Darin Ruf, RP David Hernandez, OFs Peter Bourjos, Cody Asche, 2B Darnell Sweeney, Jimmy Paredes, SP Severino Gonzalez.

       Biggest move: The Phillies made a bunch of minor moves, but made some productive moves too. The one I'll highlight is acquiring former star 2B Howie Kendrick from the Los Angeles Dodgers for Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney. He's turned into an outfielder, but seems to be past his .290 days. The Phillies are looking for a bounce back year out of Kendrick.
       X-factor: CF Odubel Herrera had a great second MLB season in 2016. He hit 15 HRs and stole 25 bases. The former Rule 5 draft pick is a big part of this Phillies team. When they become contenders, he'll be a leader.
       Biggest bounce back: They former Red Sox star pitcher Clay Buchholz was acquired by the Phillies this offseason for 2B Josh Tobias. But, he's no longer a star. He can be a solid mentor for their young pitchers. His 4.78 ERA in 139.1 IP last year wasn't so great. Buchholz will try to do better this year.
       Biggest breakout: The Phillies and fans league wide were expecting now 23 year old pitcher Aaron Nola to breakout in 2016. Well, that didn't happen. Like Buchholz, Nola had a 4.78 ERA, but this time in 111 innings. Maybe 2017 is the year Nola turns into a star.
       Guaranteed star: This could be controversial, but I'll go with 24 year old 3B Maikel Franco. He hit 25  HR sand 88 RBIs in 2016. He might not be the biggest star right now (your opinion), but he'll definitely be their big star in the future.
       The Phillies lineup should look like this.

1. 2B: Cesar Hernanadez
2. CF: Odubel Herrera
3. 3B: Maikel Franco
4. 1B: Tommy Joseph
5. RF: Michael Saunders
6. LF: Howie Kendrick
7. C: Cameron Rupp
8. SS: Freddy Galvis
9. Pitcher
         Their rotation will probably be this.

1. Jeremy Helickson
2. Aaron Nola
3. Vince Velasquez
4. Clay Buchholz
5. Jerad Eickhoff

         3B Andres Blanco, OF Aaron Altherr and C Andrew Knapp will be on the bench.
         Jeanmar Gomez will be their closer, with Pat Neshak and Joaquin Benoit setting him up.

         Finally, for my prediction, I think the Phillies will have a growth year in 2017. With the Atlanta Braves exiting their rebuild, the Phillies will drop to last in the NL East.

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