Attempting to answer 15 key roster questions about the 2022 Phillies

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 22: Starting pitcher Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies runs in the outfield before the start of a game against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on June 22, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 22: Starting pitcher Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies runs in the outfield before the start of a game against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on June 22, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Corey Knebel Phillies
PHOENIX, ARIZONA – SEPTEMBER 26: Corey Knebel #46 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on September 26, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

The Phillies Bullpen

6. How many save opportunities will the bullpen blow in 2022?

Last year, the Phillies blew 34 saves to tie the record set by the 2004 Colorado Rockies. They led MLB in the unfortunate metric for almost the entire season, only to be surpassed by the Washington Nationals at the very, who set a new record when they blew their 35th save opportunity.

7. Can Corey Knebel handle the closer role?

Corey Knebel hasn’t pitched a full season since 2018, and hasn’t been a full-time closer since then. He spent the 2021 season backing up superstar closer Kenley Jansen in Los Angeles, so Knebel only finished three games and earned three saves. He’s finished five games over the last two seasons, compared to 77 games finished between 2017-18.

Knebel made 27 relief appearances last season, but the Phillies are going to need more from him this year.

8. Will Connor Brogdon find his velocity again?

Connor Brogdon has been the talk of Phillies spring training, and not in a good way. His fastball velocity, which sat in the mid-90s last season, has been in the low 90s this spring. He says he feels fine physically, but the results just aren’t there, as opposing lineups are teeing off him.

The Phillies need Brogdon to find his form, and fast.

9. Does Brad Hand have anything left in the tank?

Brad Hand is only 32 (as of 12 days ago), but it feels like he’s been in the league forever, probably because he debuted when he was only 21, making this his 12th season in the majors.

Last season, he bounced around between the Washington Nationals, Toronto Blue Jays, and New York Mets, and pitched well for the first and third teams he was on.

I don’t think the Phillies have high expectations for him, per se; it seems like they just hope he’s steady enough. Between 2016-20, his ERA was 2.70 over 306 appearances, including 165 games finished and 104 saves, so there’s plenty of reason to believe he could bounce back from a rough 2021.

10. How much will we see of Bailey Falter?

Bailey Falter debuted in April of last year, and made 22 appearances, including one start. He finished six games, but didn’t earn any saves.

His 5.61 ERA last season is misleading, as Falter allowed 0-1 earned runs in 17 of his 22 appearances. A few three-run outings and a five-run shelling tanked his ERA.

Falter’s first two games of the spring were both starts, and he only allowed one earned run over four innings of work, which is promising.

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