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Three Reasons to Be Optimistic and Pessimistic About the Phillies Off-Season

There are reasons to believe the Philadelphia Phillies can win the National League Pennant again next year, but also there are reasons to believe things could get worse too.
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The Philadelphia Phillies magical run through the postseason re-energized a fanbase that had been craving a winner.

Though the Phillies came up two wins short against the Houston Astros, the electricity through Citizens Bank Park, and also through the Delaware Valley, was evident.

Phillies fever is back in a big way.

Maintaining that level of excellence is more challenging than making an unexpected appearance in the playoffs. In 1993, the Phillies nearly won a championship, coming two wins short and dealing with the heartache of Joe Carter’s home run off Mitch Williams.

The Phillies didn’t earn a spot in the postseason again until ’07.

This current version of the Phillies appears to have a solid base to remain in playoff contention for years to come.

Three Reasons to Be Optimistic

  • Bryce Harper. Any team led by Harper has a solid chance to be ultra-successful. After all, Harper carried the Phillies through the postseason with an injured UCL. The Phillies wouldn’t have advanced beyond the National League Championship Series without him. That home run off the San Diego Padres reliever Robert Suarez will never be forgotten.
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  • Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. Yes, they each had their individual struggles at times in the playoffs. But the Phillies wouldn’t have even appeared in the World Series without this duo. They combined for 23 regular season wins and easily could have reached 30 if not for a lacking offense in a number of games. Having two top-tier pitchers in the starting rotation is necessary. The Phillies have that.
  • J.T. Realmuto. The Phillies’ catcher earned every penny of his $115 million contract. He became a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove winner. His ability to throw out runners was scintillating. Realmuto proved to be durable and came up with so many clutch hits down the stretch of the regular season. As far as handling a pitching staff? Arguably no catcher arguably did that better than Realmuto.

Three Reasons to be Pessimistic

  • Bryce Harper. When Dr. Neal ElAttrache dives into Harper’s elbow next Wednesday, that will largely determine how much time he’ll miss. If the injury isn’t deemed serious and he can return by June, the Phillies will be celebrating. If it’s August or September or not at all, the Phillies will be reeling. Plain and simple, the Phillies need Harper in the lineup. He’s their leader in every way imaginable.
  • Rhys Hoskins. While Hoskins hit 30 home runs in the regular season and six more in the postseason, his strikeout ratio remained way too high. His errors, miscues and mental mistakes were costly. Hoskins’ offense was enough to overshadow his defense, but will it be magnified without Harper?
  • The middle of the bullpen. With José Alvarado and Seranthony Domínguez, the Phillies are in good shape in the back end. They need upgrades for the likes of Brad Hand and David Robertson. If the Phillies are active in this area in free agency, there won’t be as much cause for concern. 

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