MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki gives his 5 Phillies predictions for the upcoming 2023 season
Opening Day is just 92 days away when the Phillies travel to Globe Life Field to take on the Texas Rangers in what is set up to be a battle between Jacob deGrom and Aaron Nola.
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki recently gave his five predictions for the upcoming Phillies season in his newsletter, which you can subscribe to here. Here’s what Zolecki had to say.
1. Aaron Nola will sign a contract extension this spring
“This needs to happen. Nola has been one of baseball’s best pitchers for years. He is fifth in the Majors among pitchers with 21.6 WAR (per FanGraphs) since 2018, behind only Jacob deGrom (25.6), Max Scherzer (25.5), Gerrit Cole (23.2) and Zack Wheeler (22.1). Nobody has thrown more innings (871 2/3) in that span.
Nola’s presence in the rotation is a major reason why the Phillies never pursued deGrom, Justin Verlander or Carlos Rodón this offseason. (They feel they already have two aces, so their money would be better spent elsewhere.) Rodón just got six years, $162 million from the Yankees, but Nola is better and more reliable. He is six months younger, too. Pay the man.“
Aaron Nola deserves a new contract, plain and simple. Nola has been a player that many fans have hated over the years. In reality, he’s slowly throwing himself into the history books of the Phillies organization year after year.
Nola is a 1x All-Star, has finished with a sub-4 ERA in six of his eight seasons with the team, has tallied Cy Young votes in three seasons, and was even a finalist back in 2018 after receiving MVP votes as well. Nola has thrown 380+ regular-season innings over the last two seasons, logging over 450 Ks.
As Todd said…pay the man.
2. Trea Turner will hit leadoff on Opening Day
“Everybody loves to talk about the lineup, and that talk has picked up since Turner joined the Phillies. Thomson hinted at the Winter Meetings that he might want to take more advantage of Kyle Schwarber’s power while Bryce Harper recovers from Tommy John surgery. Turner is the only choice to replace Schwarber in the leadoff spot. Turner will see the Phillies’ first pitch of the 2023 season on March 30 in Texas, likely against deGrom.“
The leadoff spot isn’t a concern of mine, but I do think the Phillies still have the decision to make. Kyle Schwarber statistically hits best in the leadoff spot throughout his entire career, but the ideal situation is utilizing his power in the middle/heart of the order now that you have a guy that can hit leadoff.
Schwarber hitting leadoff last year was more due to the lack of other options on the team over the Phillies actually wanting to hit him there. Turner has the speed, but the Phillies can really go either way with this one. If Turner doesn’t bat first, he’s going to hit second.
3. Andrew Painter will finish in the Top 3 in NL Rookie of the Year
“Painter might open the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley because the Phillies will be monitoring his workload closely. But MLB Pipeline’s No. 24 prospect will be in the rotation at some point, and the prediction here is that he will live up to the hype.”
Andrew Painter is the most fascinating, talented prospect the Phillies have ever had, and his debut in the big leagues is going to be the highlight of this season.
Painter, 19, went absolutely ballistic in his first full year of minor league action, tallying a 1.48 ERA in 26 starts between three leagues. Painter started his season off in Single-A with Clearwater and threw a 1.40 ERA in 9 starts before being moved to High-A. He threw a 0.98 ERA in 8 starts with Jersey Shore, tallying 49 strikeouts, good for a K/9 of 12.0. Painter would get elevated to AA in August and throw five more starts.
Once Painter is with the team, the Phillies will have a rotation of Nola/Wheeler/Ranger/Walker/Painter. Gross.
4. Bryce Harper will return in June
“The Phillies said they expect Harper back by the All-Star break, but I believe agent Scott Boras when he said, “Our history with Bryce is that he has super-healing qualities.” Expect Harper back in June.”
Zolecki doubled down on what Harper’s agent Scott Boras said back at Trea’s press conference. Harper has returned fast from injury in the past, and expect that to be the same with his elbow. With the new additions to the Phillies roster, Harper is going to be dying to get back on the field.
5. Rhys Hoskins will have a career year
“Hoskins will be a free agent after next season, and he will make the most of his opportunity to establish his market with the best year of his career. That is saying something. Since his debut on Aug. 10, 2017, Hoskins ranks in the 90th percentile among qualified players in on-base percentage (.353), 91st percentile in slugging percentage (.492), and 93rd percentile in OPS (.846).”
If you know one thing about the Phillies section of The Liberty Line, you know Drew Smith, Steven Baruti, and I are huge Rhys Hoskins supporters. With the Big Fella on a contract year, he’s going to tear up the league at the plate.
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Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross - USA Today Sports