3 Phillies spring training storylines to watch: Johan Rojas, bullpen battle, Sánchez's spot

With spring training finally getting underway, here are three of the top storylines to watch over the next six weeks.

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Johan Rojas is a top storyline to watch during spring training
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Johan Rojas is a top storyline to watch during spring training / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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Can Cristopher Sánchez lock down the fifth starter job?

One of the seemingly less dramatic storylines heading into 2024 is the fifth spot in the rotation. While the Phillies have steadfastly maintained all offseason that they're happy with the starting five and the rotation is set, that has to be based on the assumption that Cristopher Sánchez continues his progression from last season.

There's no question that Sánchez has some legitimate stuff he managed to harness in 2023 as he took over the final rotation spot. For better or worse, the Phillies are relying heavily on him to put together a repeat performance in 2024.

When the left-hander came up for good in mid-June last season, he was a revelation as the fifth starter. Over 17 starts and one relief appearance from June 17 until the end of the season, Sánchez put up a 3-5 record but ran a 3.32 ERA and a 3.06 xFIP in 95 innings.

He had an 8.62 K/9, but the real story was his 1.33 BB/9. In his previous 52 2/3 MLB innings between 2021 and 2022, he posted a 4.10 BB/9, and his minor league rate of 5.26 before getting the call to the big leagues left much to be desired.

The 27-year-old will have to show in spring training that he still has the control that made him such a valuable surprise addition to the rotation last season. Otherwise, he could find himself getting pushed by the likes of recent acquisitions Kolby Allard and Spencer Turnbull if they put together solid camps.