The 2016 Major League Baseball season opened on April 3rd, and now we are faced with seemingly endless exciting baseball story lines, none of which are focused on the Philadelphia Phillies. In 2015, the Philadelphia Phillies finished with a league worst 63-99 record. Through the first four games, the Phillies have lost each game on poor play in at least one dimension of the game. So what is an honest expectation for this season?
The Phillies’ first series of 2016 at Cincinnati was a brutal one. This series consisted of two games in particular where late leads were blown after good outings from starters Jeremy Hellickson and Aaron Nola. On opening day, Hellickson pitched six innings giving up no runs, while Nola pitched seven innings with only allowing one run. The leads were both at 2-1 late. On opening day, David Hernandez came in relief allowing three runs on one hit without recording an out. The next game, young stud Aaron Nola pitched seven spectacular innings and gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead with a Maikel Franco home run. Dalier Hinojosa, a veteran reliever came in to close the game. He allowed two runs that blew the game on a walk off hit from Scott Schebler.
This bullpen struggle comes at no surprise. The Phillies signed several bullpen arms, like Andrew Bailey, David Hernandez, James Russell among others. These are players who likely would not get many innings on contending teams, if they even make the team. Also, when the Phillies traded Ken Giles and prospect Jonathan Arauz for five prospects, they had to expect this. Giles was a young 25 year old flamethrower, now the setup man for the Houston Astros. The only thing the Phillies can do to aid this bullpen is let them pitch, as we shouldn’t expect anything like the Royals in red.
The starting rotation can also be classified as subpar. Consisting of Jeremy Hellickson, Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Charlie Morton and Vincent Velasquez. Their combined lifetime earned run average is 3.97. This team had a competition for the fifth spot between Velasquez and Adam Morgan. Vincent Velasquez had won, and had a stellar first game. Unlike our bullpen this part of the Phillies has plenty of promise.
The offense also is a wash. The lineup probably has two hitters who could maybe start on another team. Maikel Franco is the face of this team. He is playing the hot corner and name really made it on the map after a hot spring training with 9 home runs. The other, Odubel Herrera, is a pleasant surprise after being the 9th pick in the Rule 5 Draft two year ago. The rest of the lineup has poor talent. The others have hopped between the minor leagues, like Darin Ruf and Andres Blanco. The others like Peter bourjos and Cedric Hunter, bounce from team to team. Then long term Phillies like Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Freddy Galvis have been sitting in limbo, where they play pointless games until this team’s young talent comes around.
The Phillies have a lot of future upside, with a supreme farm system loaded with talent. But for 2016, what can we truly expect. One avid fan, Micah Henry, stated that “The 2016 Phils will improve upon their horrendous 2015 season, but still have a long way to go before becoming a playoff contender. It all starts from finding a quality bullpen.” The bullpen is the bad apple in this bunch… but all we can be is hopeful for 2016. There’s some excitement on a few losing teams, we’re one of them. Some fans believe we can contend, and some find us as bottom feeders. I started a poll where you vote and see where fans view our team’s upside.