Remember on the opening day of the 2015 baseball season, the Phillies were trotting out the last stages of the careers of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Carlos Ruiz as their 3-4-5 combination of their lineup? Or on opening day in 2016 when Howard and Ruiz were still their 4-5 hitters, and their starting left fielder was Cedric Hunter? Yes, that’s right, Cedric Hunter. Or in 2017 when they were expecting big things from newly signed outfielder Michael Saunders and young first baseman Tommy Joseph?
Well, the 2019 version of the Philadelphia Phillies is not going to have that problem this year. Going into the offseason, the Phillies had every intention of landing one of the two big prized Free Agents in Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. But, that was not the only thing the Phillies needed this offseason. They needed to add 2-3 more caliber and veteran hitters to add to the superstar they were hoping to land. Boy, did the Phillies do that, adding four all stars in Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, JT Realmuto, and of course Bryce Harper.
Let’s take a deep dive into the lineup that will give opposing pitchers nightmares:
When you add one all star in a single offseason, that is great for your ballclub, but when you add FOUR all stars that just takes the lineup to another level. And when you can slot Maikel Franco into the 8 hole every single day, that just says how special this lineup can be. There is so much protection for every player in this lineup that a pitcher cannot pitch around a guy like Jean Segura due to the fact that Bryce Harper is next. The player that I believe will benefit most from the new additions is Rhys Hoskins. When you can be placed in the cleanup spot behind Bryce Harper and in front of JT Realmuto, you know that you are going to see pitches to hit.
A lot of critiques early in this season for the Phillies have been around the inconsistency of the pitching staff. I am under the belief that Aaron Nola, once he pitches in reasonable pitching weather when it gets warmer, will return to the ace form that we are used to seeing from him. Combine that with Jake Arrieta looking absolutely filthy in his first four starts of the season and a bullpen that has shown flashes, and the pitching staff can hold up. If the pitching staff holds up, there is no limit to where this Phillies team can go this season.
Better Than ’08?
As we saw in 2008, that lineup hit their way to winning the World Series, and the pitching staff did just what the team needed and gave the team a chance to win. That 2008 lineup was special, but this lineup has the ability to be even better, with possibly the best 3-4-5 combination in the sport with Harper, Hoskins, and Realmuto. Combine that with Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura getting on base at a consistent pace and Maikel Franco’s power in the 8 hole, this lineup is going to cause constant stress on opposing pitchers.
So buckle up Phillies fans, this is going to be one heck of a fun summer and who knows how far this team can go in October.