D.J. Short

Team Roundups

print article archives RSS

Team Roundup: Phillies

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Follow @djshort and @Rotoworld_BB on Twitter.

Philadelphia Phillies
2017 Record - 66-96
Last Place, NL East
Team ERA: 4.55 (18th)
Team OPS: .723 (26th)

What Went Right

After an elbow injury sank his 2016, Aaron Nola bounced back with a 3.54 ERA and 184/49 K/BB ratio in 168 innings across 27 starts. He’s someone to build around in this rotation. While Rhys Hoskins faded late, he went on a historic power surge upon his promotion from the minors, ultimately finishing with 18 homers and a .259/.396/.618 batting line over 50 games. He’s looking like a middle-of-the-order presence for years to come. Nick Williams impressed during his first stint in the majors by batting .288/.338/.473 with 12 homers and 55 RBI over 83 games. After being limited to 57 games in 2016 with a wrist fracture, Aaron Altherr broke out with 19 homers and an .856 OPS over 107 games. Odubel Herrera had a great second half after getting off to a slow start while Cesar Hernandez continued to prove himself as a solid leadoff man. Jorge Alfaro provided some interesting power late in the season, though his approach leaves a lot to be desired. Pat Neshek was the Phillies’ lone All-Star prior to being traded to the Rockies in late-July. The bullpen, led by Hector Neris, showed signs of promise during the second half. Adam Morgan posted a 1.69 ERA and 33/6 K/BB ratio in 26 2/3 innings over his final 21 appearances.

What Went Wrong

As noted already, Nola was excellent, but he didn’t have much help around him. The club’s starters finished 21st in the majors with a 4.80 ERA, though to be fair, that was better than every team in the NL East outside of the Nationals. That’s admittedly a low bar. Offseason acquisition Clay Buchholz made just two starts before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon. After showing flashes of dominance in 2016, Vince Velasquez struggled with a 5.13 ERA and 1.50 WHIP over 15 starts before undergoing surgery to repair a vascular issue with his right middle finger. Jerad Eickhoff took a step back from a promising 2016 with a 4.71 ERA and 1.52 WHIP over 24 starts. His season was cut short due to nerve irritation in his right hand. Jeremy Hellickson failed to replicate his 2016 success prior to being traded to the Orioles. Rotation issues aside, Maikel Franco might have been the biggest disappointment on the roster, putting up a .690 OPS in 154 games. Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp also regressed from their 2016 numbers. Michael Saunders and Jeanmar Gomez were huge busts prior to being designated for assignment in June.

Fantasy Slants

** We have to start with rookie sensation Rhys Hoskins, who made history by slugging 18 homers through his first 34 games in the majors. He’s the fastest player ever to get to that mark. The 24-year-old went without a homer over his final 16 games while batting .135 (7-for-52), but it was a promising showing on the whole. While the power grabbed the headlines, Hoskins showed an advanced approach at the plate with 46 strikeouts and 37 walks in 212 plate appearances. Similar to what we saw in the minors, he’s far from an all-or-nothing hitter. Hoskins hits plenty of fly balls and his hard-hit rate was among the highest in the majors, so there’s reason to believe that this is just the start of his power exploits. Fantasy owners are going to have to be very aggressive in order to land him in drafts next year.

**I was high on Aaron Nola coming into the spring, but it was mostly a leap of faith. He rewarded that faith by returning to the form he showed prior to falling apart last summer. His curveball is still his most dangerous pitch, but Nola threw harder than ever before while seeing an uptick in swinging strikes. He also did a good job keeping the ball in the ballpark while posting a ground ball rate of 49.8 percent. I ranked him as my No. 20 starting pitcher back in March and I’ll likely have him in a similar spot next year, if not a little bit higher.

**What to do with Maikel Franco at this point? Since impressing with 14 homers and an .840 OPS in 80 games after his call-up in 2014, he regressed with a .733 OPS in 2016 before falling even further this year with a .230/.281/.409 batting line. While he slugged 24 homers — including four in his final five games — his .292 wOBA was 10th lowest among qualified hitters. Franco has shown an ability to make contact, but that’s not always a good thing. He hits a ton of infield fly balls and more grounders than you’d like to see. His patience is still lacking and he’s never really impressed in exit velocity or with his hard-hit rate. The Phillies have some options now, so Franco’s future is in question.

**Yes, something will have to give in this infield. The most obvious change afoot is J.P. Crawford replacing Freddy Galvis at shortstop, but the club could also shop Cesar Hernandez this offseason. Crawford got off to a miserable start in Triple-A this year, but he turned things around in a big way before batting .214/.356/.300 over 87 plate appearances during his first stint in the majors in September. Fantasy owners shouldn’t make much out of the small sample, though he’s probably not mixed-league relevant quite yet. Crawford saw time at multiple positions upon joining the Phillies, but ideally he’ll slide into his natural position at shortstop and stay there. The other big factor to keep in mind here is prospect Scott Kingery, who slugged 26 homers with an .889 OPS over 132 games this season between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies could be motivated to keep him in the minors to begin next season due to service time issues, but he’s coming soon.

**Hoskins understandably received most of the attention among the new arrivals with the Phillies this season, but Nick Williams more than held his own after his call-up. Almost surprisingly so. Some skepticism is probably warranted, as his plate discipline is work in progress. The 24-year-old had 97 strikeouts and just 20 walks in 343 plate appearances. He swung more often than any hitter in the majors (min. 300 PA) and ranked fourth in chasing pitches outside the strike zone. He also put up a .375 BABIP, which is going to be difficult to maintain. While Williams slugged 27 home runs between Triple-A and the big league roster, he had one of the lowest fly ball rates in the majors and his exit velocity didn’t stand out among his peers. The good news is that I don't see his price tag being excessive on draft day next year, but more evidence is needed here.

Key Free Agents: None, unless you want to count Clay Buchholz or Hyun Soo Kim.

Team Needs: Pete Mackanin won’t return despite an encouraging finish to the season, so the Phillies need to find a new manager. As far as player personnel, acquiring at least one starting pitching pitcher — and maybe two — would be ideal, but don’t look for them to go after a big name in free agency. Based on the comments from Phillies president Andy MacPhail this week, the club appears poised to go with another light payroll in 2018 while applying resources to areas like their analytics department and stadium upgrades. Phillies GM Matt Klentak figures to explore the trade market.  



D.J. Short is a Rotoworld senior baseball writer and hosts the Rotoworld Baseball Podcast. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.
Email :D.J. Short



Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    Silva: Week 14 Matchups

    Silva: Week 14 Matchups
  •  
    Dose: Kamara injured in loss

    Dose: Kamara injured in loss
  •  
    Dose: Will Stafford Play?

    Dose: Will Stafford Play?
  •  
    Rankings: Patriots Ascend

    Rankings: Patriots Ascend
  •  
    Waivers: Chase Goodwin, Barber

    Waivers: Chase Goodwin, Barber
  •  
    Dose: Book of Eli Opens

    Dose: Book of Eli Opens
  •  
    Dose: Smith

    Dose: Smith's Time is Ticking
  •  
    Silva: Week 13 Matchups

    Silva: Week 13 Matchups