Bounce-back seasons from these Phillies players could be a gamechanger for them in 2022
The Philadelphia Phillies did more in free agency than most people expected, but spending over the luxury tax for the first time won’t be enough to make them winners; contending takes talent, team chemistry, fortitude, and luck.
Luck is beyond their control, as evidenced by their lack thereof for the better part of the last decade. Their 10-year postseason drought is only eclipsed by the Seattle Mariners’ 20 years on the outside looking in.
But if the Phillies are lucky, a few things that did not go their way in 2021 will shift this season. Namely, three players the Phillies needed more from, who could be difference-makers in 2022…
Aaron Nola hurt the Phillies more than he helped them in 2021. He couldn’t limit runs, nor did he last deep into games, averaging 5.6 innings per start. His 4.63 ERA over 32 starts was the second-worst mark of his career – 4.78 over 20 starts in 2016 – and his worst in a full season.
He was far from the only problem on the Phillies pitching staff, but expectations are higher for a marquee player such as himself. It didn’t help that he complained about his September struggles and refused to get vaccinated, which landed him on the COVID-related IL.
So far this spring training, he’s made two starts, totaling five innings of work. While he’s allowed four earned runs (all homers), he’s also struck out eight batters and hasn’t issued a walk.
How Nola performs in 2022 will have a serious impact on the collective success of his team, but it’s also imperative for him to do well, because he’ll be a free agent next fall.