Ranger Suárez had an incredible season that no one saw coming. That’s exactly why he has something to prove in 2022; he has to show the world 2021 wasn’t a one-off.
Suárez had a 1.12 ERA over 27 appearances when Phillies manager Joe Girardi moved him to the starting rotation. He hadn’t started a big-league game since 2018, and many worried that the drastic change would derail his stunning season.
Instead, Suárez made an impressively flawless shift. Over 12 starts between August 2 and the end of the regular season, he posted a 1.51 ERA across 65 2/3 innings. He set new personal records in innings pitched, pitch count, and even threw a complete-game shutout on less than 100 pitches, also known as a Maddux. On a team full of inconsistencies and roller-coaster highs and lows, Suárez was one of the few constants. But can he stay that way?
It’s likely the Phillies will keep Suárez in the starting rotation next season. Since he’d been a reliever for so long, many batters weren’t familiar with him. Now that they are, can he keep dominating?
It’s looking more and more like Didi Gregorius will still be a Phillie in 2022, which makes sense, since opposing teams would have to be crazy to trade for him.
However, Gregorius’ position on this list is different from everyone else’s, in that he has to earn back his big-league spot. President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski made it explicitly clear that Gregorius is not guaranteed to be their starting shortstop next year. He also told top prospect Bryson Stott, also a shortstop, to come to Spring Training 2022 with the goal of earning a spot on the Opening Day roster.
What Gregorius has to prove is clear as day, but can he?