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2022 season preview: how do the Phillies stack up against the Nationals?

Finishing up our look at the division rivals

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Phillies and the Nationals over the last 3 seasons have played each other 48 times, the Phillies have won 25 times and lost the other 23 games. The Nationals have seen a lot more actual success over those three years with, winning the World Series back in 2019. So, can the Phillies turn the tide this year with their big additions? Can they match what the Nationals did back in 2019?

Let’s take a look at what they did this offseason so far.

Key Nationals Departures: Mike Ford, Alex Avila, Jordy Mercer, Wander Suero, Ryne Harper

The Nationals didn’t really take a big hit to the chest in the free agent market like other teams, but they did have to open up the wallet a bit. Most of their departures came at the deadline with Scherzer, Turner, Gomes and Lester. On the other hand, let’s take a good look at their additions.

Key Nationals Additions: Nelson Cruz, Cesar Hernandez, Steve Cishek, Sean Doolittle, Ehire Adrianza, Maikel Franco

It’s going to be strange seeing Hernandez in a Nationals jersey and it’s also going to take us a second to get used to see Maikel Franco in one as well. These additions, overall, are not much outside of Cruz, especially when compared to the Phillies’ lineup and what they added.

*All projections found on Fangraphs

Nationals 2022 lineup

Lineup order Position Name PA HR SB AVG OBP SLG
Lineup order Position Name PA HR SB AVG OBP SLG
1 2B Cesar Hernandez 497 13 3 0.254 0.328 0.392
2 RF Juan Soto 672 36 12 0.313 0.458 0.588
3 DH Nelson Cruz 560 31 2 0.263 0.336 0.493
4 1B Josh Bell 637 32 0 0.267 0.355 0.498
5 C Keibert Ruiz 421 18 0 0.269 0.328 0.465
6 LF Lane Thomas 434 15 9 0.237 0.320 0.421
7 SS Alcides Escobar 441 7 4 0.245 0.293 0.352
8 3B Maikel Franco 245 9 0 0.240 0.290 0.408
9 CF Victor Robles 504 11 17 0.237 0.319 0.377

Phillies 2022 lineup

Lineup order Position Name PA HR SB AVG OBP SLG
Lineup order Position Name PA HR SB AVG OBP SLG
1 DH Kyle Schwarber 602 37 3 0.247 0.352 0.519
2 LF Nick Castellanos 651 32 3 0.278 0.335 0.513
3 RF Bryce Harper 672 37 14 0.27 0.399 0.538
4 C J.T. Realmuto 587 22 10 0.257 0.329 0.445
5 1B Rhys Hoskins 609 33 4 0.238 0.351 0.494
6 2B Jean Segura 602 13 9 0.281 0.334 0.416
7 SS Didi Gregorius 483 18 3 0.247 0.303 0.426
8 3B Alec Bohm 504 15 5 0.263 0.326 0.416
9 CF Matt Vierling 266 7 6 0.246 0.306 0.395

Outside of Juan Soto, the Nationals are projected to have Lane Thomas and Victor Robles in the outfield who had a combined batting average of .219. Also, the infield is looking scarce as well with former Phillies, Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez. The Phillies infield isn’t the best either but, they have more capable every day players there. At the end of last season, the Nationals finished the season at 65-97 which was dead last in the N.L East and 26th overall. At the deadline they made a lot of moves. They traded away two franchise altering players in the forms of Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers. The league and its fans were expecting the Nationals to move on from Scherzer but it caught all our eyes when they traded away superstar shortstop. It really showed that they wanted to take a seat for the season and they wanted to grab as much young talent as possible; they did just that. In that blockbuster of a trade, they acquired Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray, Gerardo Carrillo and Donovan Casey. Gray and Ruiz were the center pieces and we can definitely see them making an impact this year for the Nationals.

Nationals 2022 rotation

Position Name ERA GS IP H BB K
Position Name ERA GS IP H BB K
SP1 Stephen Strasburg injured in 2021
SP2 Patrick Corbin 4.35 29 172 176 55 161
SP3 Josiah Gray 4.85 24 129 124 50 138
SP4 Anibal Sanchez 5.67 23 127 144 44 94
SP5 Erick Fedde 4.80 6 60 63 22 51

Phillies 2022 rotation

Position Name ERA GS IP H BB K
Position Name ERA GS IP H BB K
SP1 Zack Wheeler 3.44 31 195 175 48 202
SP2 Aaron Nola 3.69 32 191 166 54 218
SP3 Kyle Gibson 4.61 32 189 191 72 163
SP4 Ranger Suarez 3.94 28 164 154 58 151
SP5 Zach Eflin 4.06 26 145 148 35 130

To continue on the topic of pitching, the Phillies have a pretty solid starting rotation and the Nationals on the other hand haven’t seen the most success there. The Phillies will most likely run with a rotation that looks like Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Ranger Suarez, Kyle Gibson and Zach Eflin. Joe Girardi did announce that Nola would take the bump on opening day, mostly since Wheeler just isn’t ready with his shoulder issues from the spring.

Now the Nationals have some names for their rotation, but they aren’t as good as they used to be. People around the league are projecting that Strasburg, Corbin, Gray and Sanchez would be the top four guys. Not the best rotation, the Phillies are definitely better in that aspect. Strasburg missed most of last year with thoracic outlet syndrome and he had to be shut down last season. Corbin had a 5.82 ERA, gave up 111 earned runs and 37 home runs which led the league. Gray, mentioned earlier, is most likely going to be the most productive pitcher out of this rotation for the Nationals with 1 other worth-mentioning player in Anibal Sanchez.

Nationals 2022 bullpen

Position Name ERA SV IP H BB K
Position Name ERA SV IP H BB K
CL Kyle Finnegan 4.20 28 66 62 30 69
SU1 Tanner Rainey 4.55 4 62 50 41 85
SU2 Steve Cishek 4.65 2 70 68 35 62
MID Sean Doolittle 4.59 1 56 54 20 57
MID Will Harris 3.99 1 60 57 20 60
MID Tyler Clippard 5.00 0 48 47 17 45
MID Andres Machado 5.24 0 35 36 16 30
MID Patrick Murphy 4.51 0 42 41 18 39
LR Paolo Espino 5.34 0 94 103 27 78
LR Austin Voth 4.90 0 53 54 19 52

Phillies 2022 bullpen

Position Name ERA SV IP H BB K
Position Name ERA SV IP H BB K
CL Corey Knebel 3.77 20 60 49 25 77
SU1 Jose Alvarado 3.74 3 67 52 45 88
SU2 Jeurys Familia 4.15 1 68 62 31 71
MID Brad Hand 4.08 3 63 56 24 70
MID Connor Brogdon 4.30 0 58 53 22 61
MID Sam Coonrod 3.89 0 50 44 21 54
MID Seranthony Dominguez 4.10 6 52 47 23 52
MID Ryan Sherriff 4.30 0 46 44 22 42
LR Nick Nelson 4.65 0 43 40 25 46
LR Bailey Falter 4.27 0 56 54 16 54

Bullpens in the MLB are pretty average these days. They all have one pitcher that can come in and shut a team down, but from the looks of it, the Nationals might not have one. The one pitcher they do have that could be at the closing role is Kyle Finnegan. He had 11 saves last year, but other than him, no one else strikes us as a player that can close out this Phillies team and their projected punishing offense. The Phillies have many guys that can close a game out. The projected closer is Corey Knebel. He had some nasty stuff in spring training so far and his stuff looks very similar to what he had back in Milwaukee when he was one of the top back-end pitchers in baseball prior to his injury.

Nationals 2022 bench

Position Name PA HR SB AVG OBP SLG
Position Name PA HR SB AVG OBP SLG
C Riley Adams 251 8 1 0.217 0.312 0.381
INF Ehire Adrianza 259 5 2 0.251 0.317 0.381
INF/OF Dee Strange-Gordon 42 0 1 0.257 0.287 0.347
OF Andrew Stevenson 217 5 3 0.251 0.309 0.384

Phillies 2022 bench

Position Name PA HR SB AVG OBP SLG
Position Name PA HR SB AVG OBP SLG
C Garrett Stubbs 122 2 2 0.221 0.302 0.338
INF Johan Camargo 140 5 0 0.256 0.319 0.436
INF/OF Nick Maton 56 1 1 0.217 0.295 0.348
OF Mickey Moniak 49 2 1 0.221 0.277 0.396

One last subject that we have to touch on is the bench. When one of the center fielders aren’t playing, whether it’s Matt Vierling or Mickey Moniak, one of them will go to the bench. The other player that can go to the bench is our backup catcher which hasn’t been identified yet. The guess here is that it’s Garrett Stubbs, but again, that’s unknown. Projecting a four player bench for now, that leaves us with one more player. It would most likely go to Herrera if he doesn’t start the year off on the IL. Saying he does, one player I would like to make the squad would be non-roster invite Justin Williams. He has a sweet swing and makes contact with the ball a lot. The exit-velo of his base knocks is insane. He was sent to minor-league camp, but he isn’t totally out of the picture yet.

The Nationals bench is going to be interesting. We are projecting Carter Kieboom, Luis Garcia, Yaidel Hernandez and Andrew Stevenson. Stevenson tends to kill the Phillies whenever he gets an opportunity to. Their bench definitely has more upside than the Phillies. Garcia and Kieboom have seen a lot of playing time and they can be put in the starting lineup at any moment. It would be nice to see the Phillies add some more pop to the bench since we are missing Brad Miller. If Girardi loves bringing back old Yankees, maybe he should consider taking in Edwin Encarnacion. Even though he is 39, back in 2020 when he played last he homered 10 times in 44 games. However, he batted .157 and had an on base percentage of .250. Maybe new hitting coach Kevin Long can help with that? Just a random thought.

Conclusion

The 2021 season is going to be fun and the Phillies should have the Nationals number this year on paper but, the divisional games are always going to be tough. If the Phillies stick to their strengths and don’t get flustered in their matchups, then we can all see the Phillies having a good amount of success and fun against the Nationals in this upcoming season.