Monday, December 19, 2022

Uncustomed Heroes of 2022: Phillies


Right now, the Philadelphia Eagles are the best team in football, the Philadelphia 76ers are tearing shit up with both Ebmiid and Harden healthy, the Philadelphia Union are sitting pretty after making it to the finals, and the Philadelphia Flyers also exist. But I think the single biggest accomplishment of the year in Philly sports might go to the Fightins. Nobody expected them to sneak into the playoffs, or beat St. Louis, or beat Atlanta, or beat San Diego, or take a win against the Astros, or SHUT OUT THE ASTROS. It was never gonna be perfect, and of course the Phils got no-hit twice this year, but they did what no one thought they could do and make a World Series, and I'm so immensely proud of them.

I was with my Mets fan cousins the other day, and one of them admitted to me that he thinks the Phils have the best lineup in the NL. This is a Mets fan who lives off the McNeil-Lindor-Nimmo-Alonso combo, and he's sitting there saying Turner made the Phils' lineup unstoppable. I went 'can we get that on record?' jokingly. But they are looking good next year, and additions like Trea Turner, Taijuan Walker and Matt Strahm do make me feel really good about their future chances. The NL East is gonna be tight, but they're not as outmatched as they were.

Despite going into the season with the outfield very clearly being Schwarber-Castellanos-Herrera, Matt Vierling did work his way into being a nice depth, and occasional starting, outfielder for this team. In 117 games, he hit .246 with 30 RBIs and 80 hits, plus 2 postseason hits and 1 postseason RBI. He's a handy guy to have around, and even with Brandon Marsh rendering him obsolete for the second half, he was still a big piece of this team.
2023 Prediction: Okay, so at the very least the first half, if not the first three quarters, of this season will use Schwarber at DH, Castellanos in right and Marsh in center. Folks, I think we're looking at our starting right fielder next year, and I think he'll do a nice job for himself. Defensively he's better than Marsh or Castellanos, so we'll be alright.

Zach Eflin struggled with injuries this year, and though he had a decent start with a 4.37 ERA in 13 starts, he mostly worked out of the bullpen after coming back. Surprisingly he did well as a relief, guy, with a 1.17 ERA and a save in 7 appearances. In 10 postseason games he had a 3.38 ERA with 12 Ks, 4 earned runs and a save. All things considered, not a bad end to Eflin's respectable Phils tenure.
2023 Prediction: Zunino's gone, the Rays need a new Florida man. Eflin's from Orlando, and he'll be there for a bit. They will enjoy him this year before he gets injured. 

Brad Hand spent 2021 with 3 teams, and spent 2022 with just one, and one that got him to October. Suffice to say he chose the right team. Hand was never the team's designated closer, but he was a stern, imposing eighth inning man, and he finished the year with a 2.80 ERA with 5 saves. Not as flashy as Alvarado or Dominguez, but the workmanship did not go unnoticed.
2023 Prediction: Part of me kinda wants the Phils to re-sign him, but he's more likely going to a mid-marketer and having a decent year for them.

A team with the best catcher in baseball should also have a great backup catcher, and after FINALLY getting rid of Andrew Knapp, the double-letter backup catcher trend continued after Rupp and Knapp with former Astros backup Garrett Stubbs. Stubbsy was a really nice tool for us, and I got to see him leg out a triple when no one expected him to. In 46 games, Stubbsy hit .264 with 16 RBIs and 5 homers, which was the right kind of backup performance. Sadly, Stubbs did not appear in the World Series against his former team.
2023 Prediction: More of the same. I never hope for a scenario to use him everyday, as that'd imply a JT injury which I do not want, but I think he'll continue his solid work for us.

Speaking of Astros connections, Nick Maton's brother won a World Series ring with the team this year, and Nick himself got a chance at it with the Phils. Nick has been a versatile infield guy for us, and while he didn't have much playing time til later on, he still impressed, hitting .250 with 18 hits, 17 RBIs and 5 homers in just 34 games. A lot of production in a short time. Maton only had 1 postseason at-bat, and it wasn't a productive one.
2023 Prediction: We're likely going with a Hoskins-Stott-Turner-Bohm infield. Bohm and Stott are gonna need to miss games. I think Maton is gonna have some nice games for us in the first half, and unless Bohm or Stott completely collapse, might be a trade incentive for someone.

In the interim period while Eflin was injured, Suarez missed starts and Syndergaard was still in LA, the Phils used relief guy Bailey Falter in starting situations. He actually did pretty well with the opportunity, with a 3.86 ERA, a 6-4 record and 74 Ks. Unfortunately, Falter's sole postseason start was a drubbing at the hands of San Diego. 
2023 Prediction: The Phils rotation has Nola, Wheeler, Suarez and Walker confirmed. Falter's a heavy favorite for the fifth spot out of camp, though Cristopher Sanchez and Andrew Painter are gonna make a run at it, and maybe Hans Crouse if he's anything like Topps has been saying. I think Falter will be the fifth starter as the season opens. I am not certain he will be as the season ends. Painter might be ready next year.

The first move the Phillies made in July was in nabbing Edmundo Sosa from St. Louis in exchange from Jojo Romero. It was initially viewed as an odd move, two competitors dealing, Cardinals giving an excess infielder for a crucial reliever. Sosa was a very fun pickup for us, as he hit .315 in 25 games with 17 hits and 13 RBIs, in addition to his dazzling defense.
2023 Prediction: Our primary backup infielder for next season. He's gonna do a lot of great stuff for us, and mayyyyybe take Stott's job?

The big deal the Phils made was landing Noah Syndergaard in exchange for Mickey Moniak. Thor was always a favorite of mine with the Mets, and though he'd become less of a strikeout guy and more of a leverage guy, he was still a great choice for Philly. Thor continued his leverage further with the Phils, resulting in a 5-2 record, a 4.12 ERA and 34 Ks in 10 games. Thor was also a little shaky in the postseason, as he was still limiting innings.
2023 Prediction: The Dodgers signed him expecting a Tyler Anderson-esque surprise FA triumph. I do not think it'll go as well as they think it will.

In 2019, the Phillies signed David Robertson to a 2-year deal. He pitched 7 games in 2 years for us. He then made the 2021 USA team, used it to be a 2021 Rays bullpen piece, and had a huge start to 2022 with the Cubs. On D-Rob's return to Philly, while he wasn't as consistent as he was in Chicago, he still has a 2.70 ERA, 30 Ks and 6 saves. Robertson had a postseason win against St. Louis, and was scoreless in the World Series with a save and 5 Ks in 4 games against Houston.
2023 Prediction: I don't think he'll be quite as good for the Mets, but he'll have some good moments. Robertson is probably gonna go down as one of the great relievers of the last 10 years, and next season won't be an outlier.

Tomorrow, a few fun odds and ends with the Pirates.

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