This Offseason is ‘Huge’ for the Philadelphia Phillies
The tale of two halves did not end with a postseason berth for the City of Brotherly Love.
At the All-Star Break, the Philadelphia Phillies were one of baseball’s surprising teams — leading the NL East by a half game with a record of 53-42. However, despite being in a good position for success in the second half, the Phils’ completely imploded under the reigns of rookie manager, Gabe Kapler.
In the second half, Philly went an abysmal 27-40 — capped off by an 8-20 September, to fall to the NL East’s third best record of 80-82.
Looking forward to the offseason, Wilson Ramos is headlining a list of free agents for a team that desperately needs to make some noise in the winter. Following a year in which they got so close, but couldn’t get the job done, it is crucial that the Phillies can sure up some of the issues that derailed the Phillies in the second half of the 2018 season.
One of the biggest issues revolving around the Phillies in the second half, and especially in September, was their offense. Posting a team slash-line of .218/.305/.367 in the season’s final month, it appeared as if the lights became too bright for a young, inexperienced ball-club. On top of that, the pitching staff posted a 5.49 ERA in the 28 games. Point being, it seemed as if the team fizzled out when the lights got too bright.
So moving into the winter, who should the Phillies target?
1. Hyun-Jin Ryu – LHP – Los Angeles Dodgers
The Phillies in 2018 had a right-handed heavy rotation — anchored by Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta. While it isn’t end of the world to have a surplus of righty arms, the Phillies need to throw out a change of pace by adding a lefty to the mix. However, with the likes of Happ and Kuechel also in the mix, Ryu makes the most sense. Why? Well, because one of the things that handcuffed Philly in the second half was their full run jump in their rotation ERA — from 3.72 to 4.73.
Ryu, in his career, has been a second half/postseason pitcher — 2.79 ERA in the second half and a 2.30 postseason ERA — which is exactly what the Phillies lacked in the second half in 2018; a consistent arm in the second half.
2. Bryce Harper – OF – Washington Nationals
This seems rather obvious, right? Bryce Harper should be a hot commodity for any team in search of adding a bat this offseason. In a down year by Harper’s standards, he still posted an OPS of .889, and led the league with 130 walks. Let’s also not forget that Harper won an MVP award in 2015, and was well on his way to his second recognition in 2017 before he hyperextended his knee.
Even though the Phillies have young players who are capable of attracting a fanbase, nobody is more box office than Bryce Harper. His whole “Make Baseball Fun Again” campaign, on top of his fiery passion and explosive presence in the lineup, the Phillies should hand this man a blank check and say, “listen, this is how bad we want you.”
The Phillies outfield seems pretty set in stone as of right now; with Hoskins, Herrera, and Williams, but if there is one player that Phillies GM Matt Klentak should be going all-in for this winter, it should be Bryce Harper.
3. Cody Allen – RHP – Cleveland Indians
If there is one thing, from start to finish, that the Phillies lacked consistency in at any point, it was the bullpen. Ranking as the 13th-worst bullpen in the league with a pedestrian 4.19 ERA. While Cody Allen had a very shaky season in 2018 for the Tribe, he’s still one of the better arms on the market. Having to split time as closer with Brad Hand didn’t help his cause, as he posted a 7.09 ERA in non-save situations.
What Allen brings is a guy with postseason experience, as well as the ability to work more than three outs; so you could realistically bring him in with one out and a man on, and he could give you five outs. He’s a solid right-handed arm, and the Phillies are in no position to say no to that.
The Phillies are poised for success in the coming years. However, this offseason could prove huge for how soon they can begin their reign on the National League East.