One of the keys for a ballclub to have success is to maintain a healthy, competitive lineup as much as possible throughout the MLB season.
The Philadelphia Phillies faced adversity right from the start of the 2023 season. With superstar Bryce Harper on the sidelines from Tommy John surgery to begin the season, first baseman Rhys Hoskins suffered a season-ending injury on a routine play during spring training to put the Phillies in a bind right from the get-go.
But somehow and some way, despite some bumps and kinks along the way, the Phillies were able to survive the initial part of the season. Things eventually began to look brighter when Harper came back early from his major injury ahead of schedule. In doing so, the Phillies slowly gained momentum for the rest of the season and ultimately made the playoffs.
Of course, other players on the team suffered ailments along the way, but the Phillies managed to overcome those obstacles as well to make the 2023 season a success overall.
So now, with a new season ahead of us in 2024, which players could present the most health concerns for the Phillies in their quest to make the postseason for the third consecutive year? Here are three key Phillies players whose health could mean the difference between success and failure for the ballclub this season.
One of the Phillies' most intriguing and promising pitchers in recent years is left-handed pitcher Ranger Suárez. Since moving from a reliever to a starting role back in 2021, he hasn't looked back and has yet to relinquish that position so far in the past couple of seasons. In 2022, he set career highs in wins (10), innings pitched (155 1/3), and strikeouts (129) and became one of the main cogs in the starting rotation with 29 starts.
However, Suárez was beset by ill-timed injuries during the course of the 2023 season. A left elbow injury just prior to the start of the season kept him out until mid-May, while later on in the summer, an injury to his right hamstring caused him to miss crucial games down the stretch as well. But Suárez certainly came back in the nick of time to show his value during the postseason when he went 1-1 with a stellar 1.93 ERA and 0.80 WHIP, with 19 strikeouts in just 18 2/3 innings pitched.
With the Phillies keeping their 2023 starting rotation intact following the re-signing of Aaron Nola this offseason, it will be vital that Suárez remains at his best and on top of his game to help the ballclub the most. He'll need to stay as healthy as possible in 2024 to anchor the back end of the rotation and give the Phillies the best chance to win it all. After all, he is their secret weapon in the playoffs.