This shortened season approaching, it has been mentioned many times, is going to cause a mad dash right out of the gate. Instead of hoping that statistical anomalies like a team that was supposed to be bad prior to the pandemic somehow pulls itself together for a magical 60 games stretch, contenders will have to get production from sources they weren’t anticipating getting it from. They will have to depend on players who usually would see hot starts fade once the scouting reports got around about them and hope they can keep up whatever start they can start as long as possible.
So, in order for the team to achieve their goal of making the playoffs and doing some damage, who is going to be critical to that success coming to fruition? Sure, we could come up with the usual suspects - your Harpers, your Realmutos, your Nolas - but we’re here to think about who might be even more critical because it’ll provide a punch from a spot the team didn’t anticipate. These three players are the prime candidates for what we’re looking for.
Wheeler’s inclusion isn’t really that inspired a choice. After all, he’s good and has the whiff of untapped potential that was one of the more inspired reasons the team went after him in free agency. But with the way the season is shaping up, pitching is going to paramount a team’s success. Batters haven’t seen major league quality pitching since spring training and no matter what they do during “summer camp”, there is a difference between facing members of your own team and the opposition. So it’s likely that the starting pitching, though not fully stretched out, will be ahead of the bats for a first week or so. It’ll be very important that the Phillies’ starting pitching, headed by Nola and Wheeler, get off to a hot start and lead the team to wins in their first few series against the Marlins and Yankees.
Wheeler, again, as we’ve seen ad nauseum throughout the offseason, has the ability to dominate that no one on the team outside of Nola possesses. The team is already banking on his getting better by working with pitching coach Bryan Price, but if he can run off a string of starts that racks up the wins for the Phillies, coupled with the anticipated Nola quality, the one-two punch atop the rotation will position the Phillies to contend in a pretty stacked National League East.
Here we go again.
There isn’t much more I can write that hasn’t already been written about Pivetta and his potential and how good he can be.
While we aren’t going to Fritzian-levels of hype surrounding Pivetta, his choosing this year to finally break out would be an unexpected boon to the pitching staff. What role that breakout came in doesn’t really matter as however he’s used on the pitching staff. If he’s a starter, having him come in as a solid #3 or 4 starter would give a boost to what might be the weaker rotations outside of the top two in the National League. If he’s a reliever, again, his production would help out a bullpen that, uh, projects to also be one of the weaker ones in the National League (yeah, the pitching staff might not be that good outside of Nola and Wheeler).
Unfairly or not, Pivetta has been one of the whipping boys when it comes to criticizing the rebuild efforts of the team. There has been many people projecting his breakout since he came over from Washington and seduced us with that high spin rate curveball. And every year, Pivetta comes up short. So yet again, in 2020, we gird our loins and hope that Pivetta can finally - finally - put it all together. If he does, it’ll be a massive upgrade for the team.
2020. The year the designated hitter
finally came to the National League. The Phillies can use the spot to give players a break and to get off their feet for a day (I’m looking at you, Mr. Realmuto), but for the start, Bruce seems to be the perfect fit for the spot. His suspect glove can be put down and he can concentrate on the thing he does best - hitting.
While the lineup looks quite formidable with Harper and Realmuto joined by Didi Gregorius, Rhys Hoskins and Andrew McCutchen, having Bruce come in and be a dependable everyday bat lengthens this lineup even further. While his proclivity for striking out is an issue (with the whole lineup really), his power from the lefthanded side gives them a more balanced look. There is the possibility that the team can use a lineup that alternates righty and lefty all the way down the order if Joe Girardi so desires, but if those bats aren’t doing well, lineup construction doesn’t really matter. Having as many bats as possible doing damage will help this team win ballgames and having Bruce be productive right out of the chute is something that can go a long way to attaning that damage.
These are just a few choices for players that could be low-key critical to the team’s success. Who do you think is the best choice?
Who is more critical to the team’s success outside of the usual suspects?
This poll is closed
someone not mentioned here