Phillies fans welcome to opening day! It is the start of the journey for the 2023 Philadelphia Phillies. The defending NL champions open the season today in Texas. Aaron Nola will take the bump for the 6th consecutive opening day. With his pending free agency, it could be his last in a Phillies uniform. The Rangers will go with a familiar foe to the Phillies, former New York Mets starter Jacob DeGrom. DeGrom signed a massive free-agent contract with Texas in the off-season. The Rangers are banking on DeGrom staying healthy, which he has been his main issue the last few seasons. The Rangers come in as the favorites for today as they are -134 on the money line with Fan Duel sportsbook. Today’s game will be tough for Philadelphia but with DeGrom on a 75-80 pitch count. I see the Phillies pulling this one out late.
NL East Dog Fight
New York Mets
In looking at the season, the Phillies are in for a dogfight. The NL East is arguably the toughest division in all of Major League baseball. The New York Mets and Atlanta Braves are both coming off of 100-win seasons. Both teams come back highly regarded this season as well. The Braves did lose shortstop Dansby Swanson to the Cubs, and the Mets lost Jacob DeGrom and had All world closer Edwin Diaz get injured for the season in the World Baseball classic.
The Mets bullpen should still be pretty good, but he was a huge loss. Although the Mets lost DeGrom and Taiwan Walker, they added AL Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander, Japanese sensation Kodai Senga, and solid veteran starter Jose Quintana to the rotation. The Mets also added veteran reliever and former Phil David Robertson to the bullpen. New York also has a talented lineup led by power hitter Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and all-star shortstop Franciso Lindor. The Mets are definitely a favorite to win it all.
The Atlanta Braves sustained some significant losses this offseason. As mentioned before, shortstop Dansby Swanson bolted to Chicago. Reliever Kenley Jansen and outfielder Adam Duvall both signed with the Boston Red Sox. The Braves did make a huge acquisition by trading for catcher Sean Murphy from the Oakland Athletics. The Braves immediately signed him to an extension. One of the keys to the Braves’ success is how proactive the Atlanta front office is in locking up their young talent long-term. This franchise will be in contention for a very long time. The Braves are blessed with a very good lineup with the likes of MVP candidate Ronald Acuna Jr. and 3B Austin Reilly.
Atlanta also has a top 5 starting rotation led by left-hander Max Fried. He’s followed by Spencer Strider, Kyle Wright, and Charlie Morton, and right now, the 5th spot is manned by Jared Shuster. The 5th spot could be a work in progress, but the top 4 are very strong. Raisel Iglesias appears to be the front-runner for the closer spot, but he is injured to start the season. The Braves always have power arms in the pen, so it should be a strength regardless. The Braves are a top 5-6 team to win it all.
Now let’s look at our Phillies. While many publications have the Mets and the Braves slightly ahead of the Phils, I see the Phillies as the strongest team in a tough division. In saying that, I recognize there are some concerns. 1B Rhys Hoskins’s 30 Home runs and leadership will be sorely missed. RF Bryce Harper will be out until at least June. There are also early concerns with the pitching staff. At least Ranger Suarez is shut down for the first two weeks with a sore arm. Young phenom and possible 5th starter Andrew Painter has been shut down for the time being. All of these are concerning, to say the least, but this team showed they can overcome injuries last season, and they will do it again this year.
I am extremely high on this club this year for many reasons, no more than the off-season acquisition of short-stop Trae Turner. Turner was the most significant addition to any team in the offseason. If the World Baseball classic is any indication, he is in for a monster year. I feel Tuner will score well over 100 runs in this potent lineup, he’ll hit around 25 Home runs, and the biggest factor will be the speed. With the new rules of pitchers only being able to step off the rubber twice, Turner should be able to steal at least about 30-35 bases this season. The running game will be back in baseball, and it’s one of the many reasons I predict Turner to win the MVP this year.
The Phillies also added to the starting rotation in signed former Met Taiwan Walker. Walker is a durable innings eater and a perfect 3rd or 4th starter for this rotation. The team also added to the pen by signing long-time closer Craig Kimbrel and LHP Matt Strahm and trading for LHP Gregory Soto. The pen was a strength down the stretch last season and should be even better this year.
Start of the Journey for Your Phillies
The NL East is an absolute gauntlet. The whole NL, for that matter, is tough. I see a ton of parity in baseball in general. I can make an argument for at least 8-10 teams to win it all. All that said, I see the Philadelphia Phillies being on top of the mountain this October for the first time since 2008. I see the Phillies getting revenge for 2009 and beating the New York Yankees in 6. After so many close calls last season, Philadelphia get ready to party on Broad. Go Phillies!! It is the start of the journey for the 2023 Philadelphia Phillies.
My passion for sports began at 8 years old when I won Sixers tickets at a father and son night. Since then, Saturdays meant Notre Dame football, and Sundays were for the Eagles. My passion continues to this day, and I have the great privilege of hosting the Sully Squad on Monday nights and the Old School Show on Friday Nights.