The Philadelphia Phillies have had a few rough years in a row, but at least Ryan Howard’s contract is no longer on the books. It can only get better from here, right?
Manager Pete Mackanin did a great job last season and the young team was actually extremely competitive for the first-half of the season. Things kind of hit the skids after that, but that happens a lot with young teams. Can they put together a full season without the young arms hitting a wall?
Will Clay Buchholz resurrect his career in Philly?
Here is the 2017 MLB season preview for the Philadelphia Phillies.
2016 Win/Loss Record: 71-91
Key Additions: SP Clay Buchholz, OF Michael Saunders, RP Pat Neshek, RP Joaquin Benoit, OF Chris Coghlan, RP Pedro Beato, SP Sean Burnett, C Ryan Hanigan, SS Pedro Florimon, C Bryan Holaday & OF Daniel Nava
Key Losses: 1B Ryan Howard, RP David Hernandez, OF Peter Bourjos, OF Cody Asche, SP Severino Gonzalez, OF Jimmy Padredes & 1B Darin Ruf
Interleague Schedule: AL West
Projected Starters: Cameron Rupp, Tommy Joseph, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis, Howard Kendrick, Odubel Herrera & Michael Saunders
Projected Starting Rotation: Jeremy Hellickson, Clay Buchholz, Jerad Eickhoff, Aaron Nola & Vince Velasquez
Closer: Jeanmar Gomez
Fantasy Sleeper: OF Michael Saunders – Saunders had an All Star season last year in Toronto. He was expected to put up those kind of numbers the year before, but a knee injury hampered the entire season. I think he could best the 24 homers he hit last season. The fact that he will be playing 81 games at Citizens Bank Park this year is one of the reasons for the possible uptick. He could be a nice late-round steal since he is mostly going undrafted in most leagues.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: C Jorge Alfaro – Phillies starting catcher Cameron Rupp had a very good season at the plate in 2016. He hit 16 homers in 389 at-bats, but had his issues with strike outs. Alfaro should keep up with Rupp’s offense if he is ever needed. He has some power and is a good signal caller. Philly doesn’t really need Alfaro at the moment, so he can start the year in Triple-A and keep improving.
Team Analysis: It’s going to be quite awhile before the Phillies are contenders again. They have to keep treading water at the Major league level while improving their farm system. The one good thing that happened before this season is that Ryan Howard’s monster contract finally ran its course.
Philly has some young talent that needs some recognition. Outfielder Odubel Herrera was fantastic last season. He played nearly every game and improved in nearly every category from the previous year. Also starter Jerad Eickhoff and reliever Hector Neris both exceeded expectations with their stats last year. Eickhoff could become a strong #2 starter for the Phillies.
The Phillies are just trying to get through the season without any major injuries. Their major league roster is basically their Four-A roster since they will be focused on developing their Major League roster.
2017 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 73.5 (Prediction: UNDER)
2017 Projected Win/Loss Record: 70-92 (5th in NL East)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.