Revamped Phillies Aim To End 11-Year Playoff Drought In 2022
The Philadelphia Phillies essentially tried to end their rebuild three years ago when they handed NL MVP Bryce Harper a massive 13-year deal worth $330 million.
Though Harper has mostly lived up to that contract through three seasons, the entire Philadelphia baseball team has played below expectations. Though they finished with a respectable 82-20 record last season, it wasn’t enough to snap a playoff drought that reached 10 consecutive seasons.
There were several positives to take away from 2021, however. The 82-win season marked Philadelphia’s first winning campaign since 2011. And Harper won the NL MVP award after hitting .309 to go along with 35 homers and 84 RBI.
The Phillies, looking to claim their first world championship since 2008, are a +4000 longshot to win the World Series at FanDuel.
Philadelphia has the third-highest odds of winning the NL East at +600, behind the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves (+135) and New York Mets (+140). The top sportsbooks for online sports betting in Pennsylvania are offering special promo codes for new customers, including up to $1,000 in risk-free bets.
Gamblers in Pennsylvania can bet on games, futures, over/under for games and individual award winners. At DraftKings, Harper has +1000 odds of winning the NL MVP award. He’s only behind Juan Soto (+350), Fernando Tatis Jr. (+350) and Ronald Acuna Jr. (+900).
Offseason Recap: Bolstering The Bullpen
The Philadelphia front office hasn’t been shy in handing out big contracts over the years.
Aside from Harper, the Phillies also spent big money to land standout pitcher Zack Wheeler (five years, $118 million in 2019), and to retain All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto (five years, $115.5 million in 2021).
President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski has always been an aggressive win-now executive, but the 99-day lockout prevented all 30 MLB teams from being able to make moves from December up until last weekend.
Before the lockout, the Phillies picked up veteran reliever Ryan Sheriff off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Shortly after the lockout, Philadelphia signed former Mets All-Star reliever Jeurys Familia to a one-year, $6 million pact. The Phillies proceeded to land veteran reliever Brad Hand on another one-year contract worth $6 million.
The Phlillies’ bullpen ranked 25th in the majors last year with an ERA of 4.60. Furthermore, opposing batters hit .248 against Philadelphia’s bullpen.
It’s no wonder that Dombrowski and company mostly prioritized fixing a leaky bullpen. They have a deep lineup and a solid 1-2 punch of Wheeler and Aaron Nola in the rotation. If Hand, Familia and Sheriff can shore up the bullpen’s problems, the Phillies will be in prime contention for one of the NL’s six playoff berths.
2022 Season Prediction: 88-74 Record And Wild Card Spot
The Phillies are one of the teams who will benefit greatly from the new MLB postseason format.
There will now be six wild card teams instead of four. The top two division winners in both leagues will get first-round byes.
The lowest-ranked division winner will play the third wild card team in a best-of-three. The top wild card squad (the four seed) will also play the second-best wild card team (the fifth seed) in a best-of-three. The winners will advance to the Division Series.
With a solid rotation, a revamped bullpen and a deep lineup that consisted of four 20-plus home run hitters plus Realmuto, the Phillies should be a serious contender for the NL East division crown.
But otherwise, a wild card spot appears to be very much within their grasp. They won 82 games a year ago despite all those problems in the bullpen. That is bound to balance out, and something closer to the 85-90 win range feels more likely.
And if the Phillies get off to a rocky start? Dombrowski could easily pull off an impact trade or two in what has to be considered a make-or-break year for several Philly players and employees, most notably manager Joe Girardi.
The early prediction here is that the Phillies’ well-balanced roster will do just enough to get this team into the postseason. 88 wins and a wild card berth will be considered a giant success after a painful and sluggish rebuild that should have truly started many years earlier.