Projections For The 2014 PhilliesBREAKING NEWS, News, Phillies Sunday, March 30th, 2014
Reasons For Optimism
The top of the rotation could still be a strength for this team. Cliff Lee is still an elite pitcher. Cole Hamels has been making progress with his rehab, and if he’s his old self he’ll form a great one-two punch with Lee. A.J. Burnett should serve as a fine compliment as the team’s third starter. These three have the ability to go deep into games, and give the Phils a pretty decent chance to win their starts.
The bullpen has a chance to be much better this year than its been in recent seasons. We know that guys like Justin De Fratus and Jake Diekman have strong, talented arms, but they’ve been pressed into action during the last two seasons before they were ready for the majors. Maybe this is the year that they’re able to put it together an become dependable seventh and eighth inning guys. B.J. Rosenberg and Brad Lincoln also had productive Spring Training games, and might have a chance to be decent as well.
A year ago, the team started the season with guys like Raul Valdes, Jeremy Horst, and Philippe Aumont out in their pen. You could take one look at each of those guys, and you just knew that they weren’t going to give the team anything that resembled quality relief pitching. At least this year when you look at the names on paper, you can see some glimmers of hope.
Offensively, the hope has to be that Ryan Howard is finally 100%, and can give you production at least somewhat close to what he was before the 2011 injury. Marlon Byrd was one of the only players that shined consistently at the plate during Spring Training, and he should be a noticeable upgrade over the garbage that the Phillies had been rolling out in right field last year (Delmon Young, Laynce Nix).
Causes For Concern
Age has been an issue with this team for several years, and with the same core group of players returning, its a problem that won’t be going away anytime soon. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Carlos Ruiz are all shells of what they were in their primes, and the Phils are continuing to rely on them to recapture their glorious past. And even though Marlon Byrd played really well in Spring Training, he’s no spring chicken himself.
You look at this lineup, and you wonder where the runs are going to come from on a consistent basis. Every now and then, the old bats might turn back the clock and look good for a short stretch. But there’s also going to be too many stretches where this team will struggle to score more than two or three runs in a game.
The bottom of the rotation is going to be a concern, especially while Cole Hamels is out. Roberto Hernandez is a guy who has struggled to stay in the major leagues, and the team will be lucky to get 5-6 innings and less than five runs per start. Kyle Kendrick will have stretches where he looks like a competent pitcher, but will also have a couple of months where his ERA is north of 6.00. Jeff Manship is holding down a spot until Hamels returns.
My Projected Outcome: 76 Wins
I don’t think the Phillies are going to be a terrible team, but they just don’t have the talent, depth, or explosiveness to keep pace with the rest of the division.
I think they’ll hang around and keep things interesting up until Eagles Training Camp kicks off, and then they’ll slowly fade further out of the race as the year goes on.
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