Phils’ Season Ends Short of Expectations

With additions like Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius and Joe Girardi taking over the helm, the Phillies figured to be able to compete in the National League East. Lackluster finishes were going to be a thing of the past. That didn’t really pan out for the guys from the City of Brotherly Love. Instead, they finished at 28-32 in third place in the NL East.

The problem starts with the bullpen. Girardi found himself without any go-to guys to bring out of the ‘pen and instead, had to attempt to figure out who had the hot hand at any particular time. Many times the decision blew-up and it was on to the next guy who Girardi hoped could get him enough outs to keep a game close. Even trades for the likes of Brandon Workman (6.92 ERA) and David Phelps (12.91 ERA) didn’t help. If you need to find even one piece of good news, it came in the form of young Connor Brogdon, who finished with a 1-0 record and a 3.97 ERA in nine games. Veteran Blake Parker posted a 3-0, 2.81 mark in 13 relief appearances and one start.

Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and even Zach Eflin formed a solid one-through-three in the starting rotation but there wasn’t much to go to after that. Rookie Spencer Howard posted a 5.92 ERA before an injury cut his season short and Vince Velasquez finished with a 5.56 ERA continuing to show promise in short spurts and then falling back into the usual routine of watching his pitch count balloon and runners cross the plate. In the final year of his contract, Jake Arrieta posted a 5.08 ERA in nine starts.

The true bright spot was the play of top prospect Alec Bohm. The 23-year old put up a first year slash line of 4-23-.338/.400/.481 in 44 games with the team and played well – at times, very well – at third base. Newcomer Didi Gregorius played in all 60 games and finished at 10-40-.284/.339/.488 on the year and enters free agency likely looking for a much longer deal than the one-year deal that brought him to Philadelphia. Also looking for a much bigger deal is catcher J.T. Realmuto, who negotiated with Girardi to get to play in 47 games and was productive to the tune of an 11-32-.266/.349/.491 mark. Even with the reduced playing time, Realmuto missed time at the end of the season with a hip injury.

Bryce Harper was his usual self, leading the team in homeruns (13) and playing in 58 games, batting .268/.420/.542. His 13 homeruns translate to 35 if projected over a full 162-game season.

Perhaps the offensive surprise of the season came from Andrew Knapp. The 28-year old backup hit .278/.404/.444 with two homeruns and 15 RBI in 33 games. Over three previous seasons with the Phillies, the switch-hitting catcher had averaged just a .233/.327/.336 line. He also collected a total of 36 RBI in those three seasons, but his 2020 number of 15 would have equaled 40 RBI in a regular season.

One offseason question could be whether Knapp has what it takes to be an everyday catcher should the Phillies be unable to re-sign Realmuto when – not if – he goes into free agency.

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