Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

Image: John DeMucci. Photo by 302 Films and Photography via wcupagoldenrams.com

The Philadelphia Phillies face the Atlanta Braves for their 2024 season home opener on March 28. From fans taunting pitcher Spencer Strider to Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper staring down Braves shortstop Orlando Arcia after hitting a homer, the Phillies and the Braves know how to get under each other’s skin. This Thursday, we will see which team has their first National League (NL) East series victory of the season. 

The 2023 season was a bit of a rollercoaster. With first baseman Rhys Hoskins’ injury and shortstop Trea Turner’s batting slump, it took the Phillies a while to get rolling. Thankfully, the bats got hot by July and the team finished 90-72 only sitting behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. Red October kicked off as the Phillies held the Miami Marlins to just two runs and two games in the Wild Card series. The Phillies stole game one in Atlanta and went on to win the National League Division Series. Unfortunately, a young Arizona Diamondbacks team outplayed the Phillies and became the 2023 National League Champions. 

On a top-10 offense in the MLB, Bryce Harper (.293) and baseman Bryston Stott (.280) led the team with the highest batting averages. Right fielder Nick Castellanos, a 2023 All-Star, proved himself to the team after struggling during his first year with the Phillies. While outfielder Kyle Schwarber’s batting average is unimpressive, his home runs and clutch hits make him a fan favorite. On the mound, pitcher Zack Wheeler dominated, finishing sixth in the Cy Young Award voting last season. 

For the 2024 season, Phillies fans have a lot to look forward to. In November, pitcher Aaron Nola agreed to a seven-year $172 million contract extension. Earlier this month, Wheeler agreed to a contract extension securing three more years in a Phillies uniform. The $126 million contract makes Wheeler one of the highest-paid players ever. These signings allow the Phillies to retain their one-two pitching combo. Another key offseason move was the signing of former All-Star Whit Merrifield, who will be used in a utility role for the Phillies. Having played six different positions in his career, fans can expect to see him all over the field. 

As Spring Training finishes up, the talk around the team is about who will be playing centerfield. Outfielders Christian Pache and Johan Rojas have both proven to be above-average fielders with below-average bats. Last season, they batted .300 in limited time, but were exposed at the plate in the playoffs. Pache has been the better hitter of the two in Spring Training, so Rojas will likely start the year in the minors, allowing him to get more live at-bats. 

According to MLB.com, the Phillies sit at #4 behind the Braves, Dodgers, and Orioles in the 2024 power rankings. With a postseason experienced roster, the Phillies are expected to make another deep postseason run and hopefully bring a parade to Broad Street in November. 

 


Rebecca Arnold is a fourth-year English major with a minor in Journalism. RA953057@wcupa.edu

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