Phillies Spring Training: Biggest Takeaways Through Seven Games
The reigning Grapefruit League Champions have officially kicked off their Spring Training. The Phillies are currently 3-4 record through their first seven games down in Florida. Although the record doesn’t show it, the team has shown great potential for this year, with pitching and hitting on full display. Yes, I’m aware that it’s just Spring Training and that it’s hard to make any type of concrete assumptions about players, especially during the first week. However, there are definitely signs of things trending in the right direction.
The biggest concern going into this upcoming season was the lack of depth in the bullpen, and the uncertainty of the four and five slots in the starting rotation. With new free agent signings showing many strengths in their first outings, I feel better about this team than I did three weeks ago and in Spring Training, that’s really all that matters.
Pitching kept the Phillies out of the playoffs last year, and was absolutely the biggest question heading into the 2021 season. With free agent singings including Matt Moore, Archie Bradley, Chase Anderson, and more than a few low-risk, high-reward bullpen arms, we felt better as fans, but didn’t know how they’d perform. Through seven games, the optimism for success about the pitching staff is way higher than it ever was in recent years.
Again, it’s just Spring Training and the Phillies are facing teams that don’t travel with many of their MLB regulars to Clearwater. On Friday, the Phillies shut out the Pirates and used what looks to be a good sample size of their Opening Day bullpen roster. Archie Bradley, Hector Neris, Jose Alvarado, Connor Brogdon, Sam Coonrod, and JoJo Romero all mad their Spring debuts. As a group, they allowed two hits and two walks, striking out eight over six scoreless innings.
Matt Moore threw two innings in his first start and allowed one hit, with a K/9 ratio of nine strikeouts, and zero earned runs in his first game in a Phillies uniform. Chase Anderson looked sharp in his Phillies debut, with zero hits, zero earned runs, and three strikeouts. Archie Bradley showed some strong stuff in his first game, while Spencer Howard looked extremely sharp looking to earn his spot in the rotation.
The fight for the four and five spots in the rotation is going to be interesting. Whether you think Spencer Howard is ready for that position or not, he showed some promising work in his first appearance of the 2021 season. If I had to guess, I believe the four and five spots will go to Moore and Anderson, with Spencer Howard and Vincent Velasquez coming out of the bullpen until the rotation proves otherwise.
The Phillies lineup is deep, especially when our guys are playing how we know they can. Realmuto/Harper/Hoskins/Didi/Bohm is one of the most powerhouse cores in the league, and if those guys can stay hot, the Phils offense is going to be in great shape. Bryce coming out and hitting an absolute BOMB opposite field home run was just flat out amazing, and the best start possible to his Spring. Bohm is consistently piecing the ball at a high velocity and with Realmuto sidelined with a fractured thumb, Andrew Knapp is the current team RBI leader.
Former 2016 first overall pick Mickey Moniak is leading the team in home runs. There is a strong mix of surprises and expectations are stirring throughout the first seven games, with some “high hopes” for this season starting to turn heads. With a deep middle of the batting order and some impactful bench guys making names for themselves, the chase for the opening day 26 man roster will be a fun one.
Through just seven games, this Phillies team is showing an extreme amount of potential, and making it a lot easier to talk ourselves, like we do every single year, into a playoff run. With the big bats of our solid core showing us that they are back, or the extreme potential around a formerly shaken up pitching staff, the Phillies are going to be a solid baseball team in the 2021 season. Playing in the toughest division in baseball won’t be easy, but this team is showing a preview of the dangerous game they can play.
Vince Velasquez will start on today and Matt Moore will pitch in relief. Wednesday, Spencer Howard will get the start with Chase Anderson will pitch in relief. As I mentioned, the four pitchers are all competing to secure the final four and five spots in the rotation.
The games Wednesday (NBCSP+), Thursday (NBCSP+) and Saturday (NBCSP) will be televised.
Featured Image: Phillies / Bryce Harper