2011 was the last time the Philadelphia Phillies reached the postseason, winning a franchise-record 102 games that regular season. It was also was the last time the Phillies finished a season with a winning record. After one of the most successful on-paper offseasons in the history of the sport, both of those streaks are expected to be snapped.
At least by those in Philadelphia, they are expected to be snapped.
There’s little debate about whether the Phillies will win 82 or more games in 2019, that feels like a given. The Phillies over/under on wins has fluctuated between 88.5 and 89.5 since they signed Bryce Harper on March 2. For the sake of this article, we’ll use 88.5, which would put them right on the cusp of being a postseason team.
Baseball Prospectus – whose projections are known as PECOTA – currently projects that the Phillies will go 89-73, the same record they have projected for the Washington Nationals. Davenport has the Phillies at 88-74, one game worse than the Nationals and two worse than the New York Mets. And FanGraphs has the Phillies finishing at 86-76, which would allow them to win the second National League Wild Card, based on their projections. Roto Champ, which gives a mean of the three projections, has the Phillies finishing at 88-74, which allows us to circle back to the over/under.
Some of our Phillies Nation staff was asked whether they believe the Phillies will top 88.5 wins in 2019. Their answers differed.
Tim Kelly, Editorial Director
I’ll say this: I really struggled with this question. If the Phillies are under 88.5 wins, I think it will be just under – like they’ll win 87 or 88 games. If they’re over, it wouldn’t shock me if they outperformed all projections and won 93 or 94 games. But right now, I’m leaning that they’ll be just under 88.5 wins.
This is important to know: last season’s results in the National League East mean very little when projecting 2019. The Atlanta Braves added Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann, but will largely be the same team that won 90 games and the National League East in 2018. But the Phillies, New York Mets and Washington Nationals will be entirely different teams in 2019.
The Phillies, of course, added Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, Jose Alvarez and Juan Nicasio. With a young core that includes Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins and Seranthony Dominguez, the Phillies should be much better than when they won 80 games a season ago. But it almost feels like a waste of time to compare the 2019 Phillies to the Phillies of September of 2018, who went 8-20. The two are entirely different teams.
The Mets only won 77 games in 2018, but they had an impressive offseason in their own right. They acquired star closer Edwin Diaz and eight-time All-Star Robinson Cano in a megadeal with the Seattle Mariners. Diaz will be joined in the bullpen by Jeurys Familia, who returned to the Mets on a three-year deal this offseason. Former Phillie Wilson Ramos, an All-Star a year ago, is now the Mets starting catcher. And though Jed Lowrie may not be ready to start the season, he’s a versatile infielder with postseason experience. Oh, and the Mets still have Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zach Wheeler at the top of their rotation.
And while logic would lead you to think the Nationals would take a step back after losing Harper, that almost certainly won’t happen. They’ll get a full season of Juan Soto, and added Patrick Corbin to a starting rotation that already included Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Their Pythagorean win/loss – which is based on run differential – suggests they should have been 90-72 in 2018. Instead, they were 82-80. Fluky things don’t always correct themselves over the course of one season in baseball, but the 2019 Nationals should be much better than what they were a year ago.
The National League East could very well field four teams with winning records in 2019. The Phillies may ultimately win the division, but considering they haven’t reached the postseason since 2011, a Wild Card spot doesn’t sound like the worst fate either.
Matt Veasey, Staff Writer
The Phillies have made tremendous improvements to their everyday lineup for the 2019 season. Given health, the players who will take the field this season should be far more dynamic a group than any in the last half-dozen years or more. This should result in more stability for manager Gabe Kapler in filling out his lineup card.
In 2018, a young Phillies ball club over-achieved for much of the summer. They even held first place in the division for more than a month at one point. It wasn’t until a five-game losing streak, which began on September 8, that they were knocked from any realistic postseason contention.
The club still finished with an 80-82 record, the best mark by a Phillies team since the 2012 club finished 81-81. It would not be surprising to see the new 2019 everyday lineup increase the production over 2018 at every position except possibly second base.
That alone should be good enough for the Phillies to push to the 90-win mark this year. But it is not all that the club has going for it. There is no reason that fans shouldn’t expect both Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez to take a step forward on the mound. While I still think the latter could end up at the back-end-of-the-bullpen at some point, he possesses the kind of talent that needs every opportunity to exhaust itself in the rotation.
The bullpen will be a strong point. I just see no way around that with David Robertson joining a group that already had a stable of strong right-handers. Finding a solid situational left-hander remains a sticking point, but I think that either one of the current arms (Adam Morgan and Jose Alvarez) steps up, or management finds one in a deal. And speaking of deals, the Phillies have plenty of cash and incentive to go get something big that they may need as the trade deadline approaches.
Drew Rhoades, Staff Writer
This one took some great mulling over, but I think I’ll go with the over.
There’s two factors that will come into play, the first being the National League East. The team went 34-42 last season against their division rivals. The Washington Nationals and New York Mets both made upgrades, while the Atlanta Braves mostly stayed the same. The Miami Marlins got worse. It’s easy to say the Phillies won’t likely lose 12 games to Atlanta again their year, and they should improve on their 11 wins against Miami. If they can play above .500 against three of the four teams, 88 plus wins should be obtainable.
The second factor is the improvement that was made. Everywhere you look, the Phillies made upgrades. The lineup is brand new, and on paper it looks like it will carry the team, especially in the hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park. The bullpen added a veteran presence in David Robertson, as well as the under-discussed Jose Alvarez, who should be a great option against left-handed batters. Even though the rotation didn’t undergo any changes, it wouldn’t be surprising to see someone like Nick Pivetta take a major step forward in 2019.
In 2019, the National League East may prove to be one the sport’s elite divisions, but the Phillies have the pieces to come out on top of it, which may mean 90 plus wins.
MORE FROM PHILLIES NATION
- Darian Howard, Ryan’s Son, Talks Highs And Lows Of Father’s Career, His Own Dreams
- The Top 10 Phillies Home Runs At Citizens Bank Park
- Phillies Nuggets: Harper’s Debut Underscores Potentially Scary Lineup Depth
- Data Ball: Vince Velasquez Took A Step Forward In 2018, But There’s Still Work To Be Done
- Phillies Roundtable: Over/Under 3.5 All-Stars In 2019
- Phillies Roundtable: Over/Under 34.5 Home Runs For Harper/Hoskins In 2019
- The Liberty Bell From The Vet Has Been Moved Outside Citizens Bank Park
- MLB Will Reportedly Eliminate August Waiver Trades In 2019
- Chase Utley Is Back In Baseball In A Different Role In 2019
- Just Released – Road Trip To Pittsburgh!