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Philadelphia Phillies 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Philadelphia Phillies 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Philadelphia Phillies 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

After committing over $700 million to free agents the previous three winters, the Phillies tightened the budget because of the pandemic this offseason. They did re-sign All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto to a five-year, $115.5 million free-agent deal, but that’s just one of many holes new president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski had to fill as he tries to snap the longest playoff drought in the National League. Dombrowski knows how to get the job done, and there is talent here — just not enough throughout the roster to instill confidence that the playoff drought will end in 2021.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Phillies

"They're an oddly constructed team — very top-heavy in an era when teams value depth and versatility. There are definitely championship-level pieces in the lineup and rotation, but the supporting cast is thin. Bryce Harper looks like his MVP self. He's making a lot more contact, actually walking more than he's striking out, and the power's always there — he just needs to touch the ball. Rhys Hoskins is coming off Tommy John surgery, but he's improving steadily as a hitter, and Alec Bohm was a revelation; he makes up for some of the first-round picks they squandered in the lean years. They clearly need more from Scott Kingery, and with his contract, he'll get the chance to bounce back. Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler are top-of-the-rotation guys who could match up with any other team's 1-2 in a playoff series, and Zach Eflin has emerged as a solid No. 3. The bullpen is bound to be better, but it's still not clear if they have any above-average arms out there unless Seranthony Dominguez comes back healthy."

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Beyond the Box Score

Bryce Harper, prophet On Aug. 22, after a fifth straight loss dropped the Phillies five games under .500, Bryce Harper, with desperation in his voice, said the team needed to do something dramatic, like "win nine out of 10." Well, the Phillies did better than that and won 10 of their next 11 to improve to four games over .500. Firmly in second place in the NL East and riding a wave of momentum, the Phils proceeded to lose 17 of their final 26 games and missed the playoffs.

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2021 Athlon Sports Baseball Preview

Evolution of a pitcher

Zack Wheeler averaged 96.9 mph on his fastball in 2020. However, Wheeler didn't just look to blow hitters away. He focused on getting early contact and ground balls with sinking action down in the zone, and the results were good. Though his strikeouts declined from 9.0 per nine innings in 2019 to 6.7, his walk rate dipped, and his groundball percentage was a career-best 56 percent. He induced 13 double plays, second most in the majors, and gave up just 0.38 homers per nine innings, best in the NL. This style should help Wheeler keep his pitch counts in check and stay in games longer. 

Continuity crisis In recent years, the Phillies have undergone significant changes in leadership as they search for the winning season that has eluded them since 2011. Pitcher Aaron Nola, who debuted with the club in July 2015, will have his fifth different pitching coach (Caleb Cotham) in 2021. Nola is pitching for his third manager and third GM/head of baseball ops.

Succession plan Dave Dombrowski's arrival in Philadelphia isn't unlike Pat Gillick's 15 years ago. Like Gillick, Dombrowski arrives with credentials that will likely land him in Cooperstown one day. He also comes in with a mandate to eventually make the Phillies champions, which Gillick accomplished in 2008. Upon arriving in the fall of 2005, Gillick was also tasked with grooming Rúben Amaro Jr. to be his successor. Dombrowski, 64, will look to do the same with Sam Fuld, who moves up to general manager after serving in a hybrid front office/field role for several years. 

Thanks for nothing Former GM Matt Klentak tried to save the 2020 season (and his job) when he traded for veteran relievers Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree, and David Phelps in July. The additions only made a bad bullpen worse. The three combined to allow 52 hits and 34 earned runs in 30 innings (10.20 ERA). Klentak, who had begun the season saying, "It's time to win," was reassigned in October.

Projected Lineup


LF     Andrew McCutchen (R)

3B     Alec Bohm (R)

RF     Bryce Harper (L)

C      J.T. Realmuto (R)

1B     Rhys Hoskins (R)

SS     Didi Gregorius (L)

2B     Jean Segura (R)

CF     Roman Quinn (S)


UT     Scott Kingery (R)

C       Andrew Knapp (S)

OF     Adam Haseley (L)

OF     Kyle Garlick (R)

IF      Ronald Torreyes (R)


RHP    Aaron Nola

RHP    Zack Wheeler

RHP    Zach Eflin

RHP    Spencer Howard

RHP    Vince Velasquez


RHP    Archie Bradley (C)

RHP    Hector Neris

LHP    Jose Alvarado

RHP    Connor Brogdan

LHP    Ranger Suarez

LHP    JoJo Romero

RHP    David Hale

RHP    Ramon Rosso

2021 Prediction: 4th in NL East

(Bryce Harper photo courtesy of @Phillies)