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Philadelphia Phillies 2022: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Bryce Harper, Philadephia Phillies

The Phillies gave reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper some much-needed help in the lineup and revamped their bullpen in hopes of breaking the team's decade-long playoff drought

Even with the National League MVP, the Cy Young runner-up, and a top-five payroll, the Phillies couldn't stop their postseason drought from reaching a decade in 2021. The bullpen was bad, and the defense was worse, as another season of Bryce Harper's and Zack Wheeler's prime elapsed with only individual accolades.

In a division that features the World Series champion Braves and the headline-grabbing Mets, the Phillies joined in on the free-agency fun, bolstering their bullpen and adding two big bats to the lineup. How well the pieces come together will determine the team's fate, but at least the Phillies appear to have learned their lesson from 2021. That Harper and Wheeler can't do it alone.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Phillies

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"The division was wide open for them, they had the MVP in Bryce Harper and a Cy Young kind of season from Zack Wheeler, and yet they still couldn't get the job done. They've shown that you can't just spend your way to the playoffs because their big-money guys are really good, but they're still so thin because they get nothing from the farm system. They'd love Bryson Stott to change that; he tore it up in the Arizona Fall League, so he may be the answer at shortstop. That answer sure isn't Didi Gregorius. They obviously need more from Alec Bohm, who just looked mentally defeated last year and was disastrous at third base. Aaron Nola was way too predictable; he got torched by opposing hitters the third time through the order, and everyone knew that when he got runners on base, he'd start spinning curveballs up there. There's no excuse for him to be a .500 pitcher. Ranger Suárez was their best player not named Harper or Wheeler last year — he's fearless, he does everything they ask, he's good against righties and lefties. You just wish he could start and relieve because that bullpen is still an adventure. Maybe Corey Knebel will be the answer at the back end, but he's got a long injury history. Connor Brogdon is a good piece, but José Alvarado is the ultimate box of chocolates; you just never know which version of him you're going to get."

Beyond the Box Score

Two-strike troubles A sudden inability to put hitters away with two strikes was a big reason why Aaron Nola pitched to a mediocre 4.63 ERA in 2021. He gave up 82 hits, tied for most in MLB, and 12 homers with two strikes on a hitter. His previous highs were 65 and eight, respectively.

Philadelphia Phillies 2022 Baseball Cover

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Limping to the end The Phillies have entered the last four Septembers in playoff contention only to have a losing month and miss the postseason. Their season finishes have been particularly ugly: 2021 — lost six of their final seven; 2020 — lost seven of their final eight; 2019 — lost nine of their final 12; 2018 — lost nine of their final 11.

Super season Bryce Harper became the 15th player to reach 100 walks, 100 runs, 40 doubles and 35 home runs in a season on his way to his second NL MVP Award in 2021. Harper's most amazing feat may have come April 28 when he survived a 97-mph fastball to the face from St. Louis lefty Génesis Cabrera. The pitch could have ended his season, or his career. "Getting hit in the elbow or ribs is one thing," manager Joe Girardi said. "Getting hit in the face is completely different. You kind of see your life flash before your eyes." Harper's mom, Sheri, summed it up best in a phone call to her son after the game. "The angels were with you."

Bang for the buck Zack Wheeler was a distant third behind Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg on the free agent pitching market after 2019, but over the last two seasons, he leads the majors in innings (284.1) and has 27 quality starts. Cole has pitched 254.1 innings with 26 quality starts. Injuries have limited Strasburg to seven starts the last two seasons.

Ranger ready Ranger Suárez spent a month quarantining in a Clearwater, Fla., hotel room in the summer of 2020 and pitched in just three games that season. In 2021, he was one of the team's most important contributors, filling roles as a long man, a closer and finally as a starter. He's the first pitcher to ever throw five or fewer innings one season then come back to eclipse 100 and have a sub-1.50 ERA the next.

Important hire After one season on the job, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski shook up an underperforming player development department. He hired Preston Mattingly, a former first-round pick of the Dodgers who went on to work as a scouting and game-planning specialist with the Padres, to lead the department. "We need to be better at getting players over the hump and producing good players from within the system," Dombrowski said.

Projected Lineup

LINEUP

2B    Jean Segura (R)
DH   Kyle Schwarber (L)
RF    Bryce Harper (L)
C     J.T. Realmuto (R)
LF    Nick Castellanos (R)
1B    Rhys Hoskins (R)
SS    Didi Gregorius (L)
3B    Alec Bohm (R)
CF    Matt Vierling (R)

BENCH

INF  Johan Camargo (S)
C     Garrett Stubbs (L)
INF  Bryson Stott (L)
OF   Odúbel Herrera (L)

ROTATION

RHP    Zack Wheeler
LHP    Ranger Suárez
RHP    Aaron Nola
RHP    Zach Eflin
RHP    Kyle Gibson

BULLPEN

RHP    Corey Knebel (C)
LHP    José Alvarado
RHP    Jeurys Familia
LHP    Brad Hand
RHP    Seranthony Domínguez
RHP    Connor Brogdon
RHP    Sam Coonrod
RHP    Bailey Falter

2022 Prediction: 3rd in NL East