Photo: “Phillies Cole Hamels 3” by Ksebruce is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
The 2019 Major League Baseball season has come to a close, and the Bryce Harper-less Washington Nationals are our Fall Classic Champions, as they’ve beaten the Houston Astros in seven games, to be named World Champions of Baseball. Yet again, our beloved Philadelphia Phillies were unable to qualify for post-season play, but this isn’t new in Philly, as we have yet to make a playoff appearance since losing to St. Louis in the National League Divisional Series back in 2011.
While missing the playoffs isn’t new, failing to meet expectations certainly is. Coming into this season, the Phillies had a lot of hype surrounding the club, with big offseason acquisitions of Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, J.T. Realmuto and of course, Bryce Harper. The year started off strong, finishing nine games above .500 going into June, and 47-43 heading into the All-Star Break. However, in typical Philadelphia Phillies fashion, our second half was mediocre at best. We finished the season a perfect 81-81, only one game better than 2018.
Philadelphia got started early on what fans can hope will be a very active offseason with the firing of unpopular manager Gabe Kapler. Two weeks later, former Yankees manager Joe Girardi was hired. Girardi spent nine years in New York, leading the Yankees to an overall record of 910-710, six postseason appearances and an infamous World Series title over the Phillies in 2009. There is a lot of hope surrounding Girardi, because of how different he is from what we had with Kapler. Girardi, 55, has been managing since 2006, while Kapler was brand new to the position when he joined the team in 2018. This Phillies team is young to begin with, and I think the city is relieved that they now have a veteran manager who has lots of experience with winning.
The main concern plaguing the team this year was pitching. Our starting rotation wavered year-round and Aaron Nola was the only reliable pitcher. Many criticized Klentak for not spending on quality starters like Mike Minor and Marcus Stroman before the trade deadline. Klentak instead brought in free agents and hot heads like Drew Smyly and Jason Vargas. Despite how difficult it was to watch guys like Smyly and Vargas start and lose regularly, I felt that Klentak’s decisions were justified. Names like Mike Minor, Marcus Stroman, Zach Greinke and Madison Bumgardner were constantly being tied to the Phillies in possible trade deals; these deals however, often involved trading valuable assets to our team and our future for an older player on a rental contract.
What this team needs is a staple arm in the starting rotation and the bullpen — and I’m not convinced that’s something we can trade for without giving up the farm. Lucky for us, this year’s free agency class is loaded from head to toe with talent at the pitcher position.
The 2020 Free Agency class for pitchers has some really big names and many quality starters, including Zach Wheeler, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, Julian Teheran, Rick Porcello, Rich Hill, Chris Archer, Dallas Keuchel, Corey Kluber and more. The biggest name on the list is of course ace pitcher from Houston, Gerrit Cole. Cole, 29, is coming off a career 20 win season and 2.50 ERA. Cole will likely finish within the top three of the Cy Young Award race and lead the star studded Houston Astros rotation to an American League title.
While I’m sure the Astros will be doing their best in order to keep the young right hander in Houston, the market for Cole will be large and he will definitely be in store for a massive payday. While Cole has informed the media that his home is in Houston, I don’t believe it would surprise anyone if Cole entertains signing somewhere besides Houston — after all, money talks. Philadelphia can definitely afford to be competitive in the race for Cole’s explosive arm, and he’s definitely the front runner for guys I would want Matt Klentak to target. Hyun-Jin Ryu will also be available and highly sought after this winter, coming off a career year in LA.
Ryu lead the National League in ERA this year and would be the first dominant left-hander in Philly since Cole Hamels. Speaking of which, Cole Hamels is also available this offseason and has been rumored to have interest in finishing his career in Philadelphia.
While Cole is loved in the city and has had a great career, he is also 36-years-old and who knows how long it’ll be before he becomes a liability in the rotation. There are a plethora of talented arms available this winter and I fully expect Philadelphia to become home for a whole new staff of talented pitchers.
I understand that this season was a disappointment, and I know that mediocrity won’t be tolerated next year, but I also believe that our Championship window hasn’t quite opened yet. The pitching staff held us back, and I really do trust that Klentak can begin to assemble some legitimate throwers to join Aaron Nola. Although watching Bryce Harper in his brand new Phillies jersey repeatedly saying “We want to bring a title back to D.C.” on Twitter is undoubtedly frustrating, we can only hope that with the addition of Girardi and some solid pitching that the Phillies can be the NL East team celebrating in late October next year.
Dylan Edelman is a first-year student majoring in mathematics and minoring in journalism. DE936681@wcupa.edu