The Phillies came just two games away from winning the franchise’s third World Series title last fall. Come October, Philadelphia will get another shot at the crown. The Phillies are back for the 2023 MLB Postseason, and here’s how Philadelphia looks entering the playoffs.
A Look at the Phillies Offense
The Phillies were able to ride the wave of their offense to the National League pennant last year, and Philadelphia’s remained an elite team in 2023 thanks to the lineup.
Much like in 2022, the Phillies rank among the MLB‘s best in a number of team offensive categories, including wOBA (6th – .330), SLG (.5th – .439), and average exit velocity (4th – 89.6 MPH). However, the Phillies offense dealt with plenty of adversity throughout the year.
First baseman Rhys Hoskins tore his ACL in Spring Training, while Bryce Harper was — at least at first thought — set to miss half of the season after Tommy John surgery in the 2022-23 offseason. That turned out not to be the case, as Harper returned in May and eventually took over as the team’s starting first baseman.
Much like their rival in Atlanta, the Phillies have some mashers on this team. Five players — J.T. Realmuto, Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, and Harper — all have at least 20 home runs, and Alec Bohm‘s turned in a fine season at the plate, as well. The former first-round pick hit 19 home runs as of September 30 and drove in a career-high 95 RBI.
The big stories on this team, however, were the strong comeback season from Castellanos — who posted a career-worst .694 OPS in 2022 — and the breakout year from Bryson Stott. Now a second baseman, Stott hit .279 with 15 home runs and provided a steady presence in the lineup.
Stott was the team’s regular shortstop last season but moved to second after Philadelphia added Trea Turner in a blockbuster signing last winter. Turner’s first half of the 2023 season was forgetful but turned a corner in the second half. The 30-year-old batted .291 with 11 stolen bases, 16 home runs, and 44 RBI after the break.
Then, there’s leadoff man Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber’s been adept at the long ball and drawing walks, as indicated by his 46 bombs and 125 base on balls on the season. However, the Phillies outfielder also entered play with a .197 batting average and would be the only player since 1901 with at least 40 home runs and a sub-.200 average (min. 600 PA).
The Phillies lineup could possibly receive a further boost if Hoskins, who’s been ramping up in recent weeks, can go come late October. Manager Rob Thompson indicated that the first baseman could be a DH or pinch-hit option come the World Series, but Philadelphia needs to make it there first.
A Look at the Phillies Pitching
For Wheeler, the 2023 campaign went well. Although Wheeler’s 3.61 ERA was his highest since 2019, the 33-year-old struck out 212 batters and saw decreases in his HR/9 and BB/9 rates. Nola, however, proved to be a quandary.
Nola struck out 202 batters this season, the fifth consecutive full season in which he punched out at least 200 batters in a season. However, his command proved to do him in at times. Nola’s walk rate rose and he gave up 32 home runs on the season. That figure put him in a tie with Joe Ryan (Twins) and JP Sears (A’s) for sixth-most in the Majors.
Philadelphia did receive adequate contributions from Ranger Suarez and Taijuan Walker, the latter of whom won 15 games but ended the year on a low note. Left-hander Cristopher Sanchez, meanwhile, proved to be a force over the final two months of the year.
As far as the Phillies bullpen is concerned, Jose Alvarado spent a lot of time on the IL but was dominant when healthy. Newcomers Craig Kimbrel and Matt Strahm performed well by and large, but arguably the biggest surprise on the pitching side was Jeff Hoffman.
The former first-round pick struck out 68 over 52 frames and walked just 19. The hard-throwing righty relied heavily on his slider, and that’s not a shock given the numbers. Opposing hitters whiffed at it to the tune of 44.9% and hit just .075 off it.
How the Phillies Can Win it All
The Phillies will open up the MLB Postseason and their NL title defense at home in the NL Wild Card against either the D-Backs, Cubs, Reds, or Marlins.
We know the Phillies have the firepower to win it all. Between a stacked lineup, a rotation with past success, and high-octane relievers, the Phillies pose a significant threat to any team in the MLB Postseason.
However, the key will be whether the Phillies can get reliability out of the team’s started. Zack Wheeler’s ERA is up from 2021 and 2022, but some of that can be attributed to luck.
Wheeler’s still an ace, but can Aaron Nola — a pending free agent with a lot to prove — be a difference-maker for the Phillies? What about Taijuan Walker, who posted a 5.93 ERA across 30.1 IP in September?
If the Phillies want to make it back to the World Series, Philadelphia will need the team’s guns in the rotation to roll in October.