In just a few hours, Aaron Nola will throw the first pitch of the Phillies season. Baseball is back, which means it is time to look forward to how this season could go for the Phillies and across the rest of the league.
Phillies Nation Editorial Director Tim Kelly, Deputy Editorial Director Destiny Lugardo, Editorial Director Jonny Heller and Staff Writer Ty Daubert compiled their predictions for the upcoming 2021 season.
NL East Standings
T-1 – Atlanta Braves T-1 – New York Mets 3 – Philadelphia Phillies (88-74) 4 – Washington Nationals 5 – New York Mets
There was some disagreement here over how the top three teams would play out between the top three teams. But, aggregated, the Phillies Nation staff expects the Braves and Mets to fight for first place in the division.
The Mets had a particularly good offseason headlined by their addition of All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, and have a strong rotation led by Jacob deGrom, widely considered to be the best pitcher in baseball. The Braves, meanwhile, re-signed Marcell Ozuna, a key piece in their 2020 lineup, and also added starting pitchers Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly to a rotation that just keeps improving.
This leaves the Phillies in third, which in all likelihood would keep them from playoff contention. The Phillies Nation staff thinks that the team will win a range between 86-90 games, but those other two teams in the division are just stronger.
The Nationals might have the best player in the division in Juan Soto, and they did make a couple of intriguing acquisitions in Kyle Schwarber and Josh Bell. But they took a step back in 2020 following their 2019 World Series run, and the roster lacks the depth the top-three teams in the division all have.
The Marlins were a surprise playoff team in 2020, and are led by a strong, young starting pitching staff. Their offense, however, struggled last season and appears set to do the same in 2021. This team has the potential to contend the coming years, but it is unlikely to happen this season.
NL East – Atlanta Braves NL Central – St. Louis Cardinals NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers NL Wild Card spots – San Diego Padres, New York Mets Teams on the outside looking in -- Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers AL East – New York Yankees AL Central – Minnesota Twins AL West – Houston Astros AL Wild Card spots -- Chicago White Sox, Toronto Blue Jays Teams on the outside looking in -- Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Angels
The Phillies have not had two or more All-Stars in a single season since 2013, and the Phillies Nation staff expects that to change in 2021.
Tim Kelly — Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Zack Wheeler
Destiny Lugardo — Harper, Realmuto, Aaron Nola, Jean Segura, Zach Eflin
Ty Daubert — Realmuto and Nola
Jonny Heller — Realmuto, Nola, Segura and Connor Brogdon
One thing that everyone agrees with is that J.T. Realmuto is primed to be an All-Star in 2021. The 30-year-old has been the best catcher in the sport over the last two seasons and certainly is a frontrunner for the honor entering the season.
Nola got the nod in his otherworldly 2018, and he probably would have made it last season had there been an All-Star game. Harper, meanwhile, is a six-time All-Star, but he has never done it as a Phillie.
The path for Segura, who made his only All-Star team in 2016, is that the second base position is not considerably strong in the National League. If he has a strong start to the season, he could certainly make a bid.
Wheeler, Eflin and Brogdon have never made an All-Star team before. Like Nola, Wheeler certainly had a solid chance to in 2020 if there was voting. Neither Eflin nor Brogdon have put together an All-Star level season to this point, but there are high expectations for both in 2021.
World Series Picks
Tim Kelly – Dodgers over Yankees
Destiny Lugardo – Dodgers over Blue Jays
Ty Daubert – Dodgers over Astros
Jonny Heller – White Sox over Padres
NL MVP – Juan Soto (three votes)
Soto, who has killed the Phillies since making the majors in 2019, appears primed for an MVP-level season. Had he not missed time early following a positive COVID-19 test in 2020, he may have won the award. In 47 games, he slashed .351/.490/.695.
Other players receiving votes – Mookie Betts (one vote)
AL MVP – Mike Trout (two votes)
Trout, a 29-year-old who could retire tomorrow and still be a first ballot Hall of Famer, is the obvious choice here. He has finished top-five for the award in every season since 2012 and won it three times.
Other players receiving votes – Jose Ramirez (one vote), Shohei Ohtani (one vote)
NL Cy Young – Jacob deGrom (four votes)
This one is pretty simple: deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball right now. He did not win the award last year, but did finish with a career-high 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings. He won the award in the prior two seasons.
AL Cy Young – Hyun-jin Ryu (two votes)
Ryu finished in third for the award in 2020, his first season in Toronto. He has a 2.42 ERA in 41 starts over the last two seasons.
Other players receiving votes – Shane Bieber (one vote), Gerrit Cole (one vote)
NL ROY — Sixto Sanchez (three votes)
Phillies fans might want to look away for this one. Sanchez, the centerpiece of the trade that sent Realmuto to the Phillies in 2019, still has his rookie eligibility. In 2020, the 22-year-old pitched to a 3.46 ERA across seven starts.
Other players recieving votes – Dylan Carlson (one vote)
AL ROY — Randy Arozarena (three votes)
Arozarena took baseball by storm last October when he hit 10 home runs in 20 postseason games. He still has rookie eligibility and appears to be the frontrunner for the award entering the 2021 season.
Other players recieving votes – Jarred Kelenic (one vote)
NL Comeback Player of the Year — Stephen Strasburg (two votes)
Strasburg pitched just five innings in 2020 due to injury after a career year in 2019 that saw him win World Series MVP and earn a lucrative contract. The biggest question will be health, and if Strasburg can stay on the field, he is a good bet to have a comeback season.
Other players recieving votes — Tommy Pham (one vote), Lorenzo Cain (one vote)
AL Comeback Player of the Year — Trey Mancini (four votes)
No matter how he performs in 2021, Mancini has done enough to earn this award. Prior to last season, Mancini was diagnosed with colon cancer. Now, he is set to play on Opening Day for the Baltimore Orioles
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