clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

New, 66 comments

What should fans know about Cincinnati's first opponent of the season?

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at Philadelphia Phillies Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 season is about to kick off, and there have been a number of changes around the league. It's hard enough keeping up with everything going on with the Reds, let alone what is happening with their competition. But don't worry, we've got you covered. Whenever the Reds take on an opponent for the first time this season, will help you get a handle on the Reds competition.

First up in our season preview series, it's the Philadelphia Phillies.

Cincinnati and Philadelphia have been on similar trajectories the past few seasons. Both teams have been in rebuilding mode, and most of the stars of past teams are now gone. As the tweet above highlights, the Phillies have moved on from foundational pieces of the past. Philadelphia heads into 2017 with much of the roster that will carry them into the future already in the system.

Last Season and What's Ahead

In 2016, the Phillies went 71-91 which was good enough for fourth place in the NL East.

How are things expected to go this season? FanGraphs predicts the Phillies to finish 70-92, while Baseball Prospectus is a little more optimistic at 73-89.

Regardless, they're likely at least one more season away from actually competing for a playoff spot. Does that remind you of a team you're a little more familiar with?

New Faces

Philadelphia didn't make any major moves this offseason, but there were a few notable acquisitions.

You'll notice that Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders are starting in the corner outfield spots. The team acquired Kendrick by sending Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeny to the Dodgers. Saunders was signed to a one-year, $9 million deal in January.

Clay Bucholz is the new addition to the starting rotation. The Phillies sent Josh Tobias to Boston in exchange for the 32-year-old starter. Buchholz has one year remaining on his deal, and if he's successful this season it's unlikely he ends the year in a Phillies uniform.

Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek were both brought in to bolster the bullpen.

The Lineup

The biggest story with the Phillies lineup this season has more to do with the players who aren't in it yet. Both J.P. Crawford and Jorge Alfaro will eventually be everyday players at the major league level. The Opening Day lineup is the group that will help carry them through that transition.

The Pitchers

Jeremy Hellickson (Monday)

Jerad Eickhoff (Wednesday)

Clay Buchholz (Thursday)

One of the most significant offseason developments for the Phillies was Jeremy Hellickson agreeing to a qualifying offer. Most assumed Hellickson would be one of the top free-agent starters this offseason, but as Steve Adams notes the market never really developed for him. Hellickson finished last season 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA (3.98 FIP) over 189 innings of work.

Eickhoff is coming off of his first full season as a major league starter. Last year, he went 11-14 with a 3.65 ERA (4.19 FIP). This will be Buchholz's eleventh season in the majors, and his final 2016 numbers weren't that impressive (8-10, 4.78 ERA). However, he looked much better as the season went on, and in the second half posted a 3.22 ERA.

Jeanmar Gomez returns as Philadelphia's closer, but if he struggles Hector Neris or one of the newly acquired veterans could slide into that role.

Prediction

The Reds repeat their performance from a year ago and sweep the Phillies to open the season (it's Opening Day, it's okay to be optimistic).