5 Phillies players under the most pressure entering the 2024 season

Which Phillies players need to step up their game right from the get-go in 2024?

Philadelphia Phillies starter Aaron Nola will be under pressure to live up to his new contract
Philadelphia Phillies starter Aaron Nola will be under pressure to live up to his new contract / Elsa/GettyImages
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José Alvarado

José Alvarado was perhaps the best Phillies bullpen arm in 2023. After putting up solid numbers during his second season with the ballclub in 2022, Alvarado took his game to another level last season. In 2023, he registered a stellar 1.74 ERA, 249 ERA+, and 1.16 WHIP, giving up only eight earned runs all year, along with 18 walks and a whopping 64 strikeouts in just 41 1/3 innings. The only negative thing for Alvarado last year was perhaps when he was sidelined with elbow inflammation twice, causing him to miss two and a half months of game action.

With 2023 closer Craig Kimbrel joining the Baltimore Orioles this offseason via free agency, Alvarado becomes the prime candidate to take over the closing duties for the team in 2024. After all, he has done so successfully on a part-time basis for the ballclub in the past, registering 17 saves since 2021, including picking up admirably for Kimbrel when he faltered a bit down the stretch. However, Alvarado has never done it as a full-time gig before, so it will come down to whether he is both mentally and physically ready for it.

This could put some pressure on Alvarado not only to perform but to make sure he stays healthy enough to fulfill the role, as the Phillies can’t afford him missing a chunk of time like last season. The Phillies didn’t invest in any insurance options, so the backup plan after Alvarado would be the electric yet wild Gregory Soto, who had closed games for the Detroit Tigers. Even unproven rookie Orion Kerkering has the stuff but may not be ready for prime time just yet.

The last thing the team needs is a closer-by-committee approach; as for a team looking to seriously contend for the World Series, you can’t have that kind of uncertainty on who you think will get the job done at the end of each ballgame.