Despite starting the season with a 10-1 record, the Philadelphia Eagles limped into the playoffs. Their season is officially over now, after Monday night's loss in Tampa. In what ended up being a disappointing season overall, the Eagles fell short of early season expectations. The franchise will be left with some decisions to make in the offseason.
As football season ends in Philadelphia, both the Flyers and 76ers will carry the city into baseball season. In about a month, Phillies pitchers and catchers will begin reporting to Clearwater for Spring Training. Despite the rather quiet offseason, there's still plenty to be excited about as baseball season draws near.
The Phillies are coming off of two consecutive postseason appearances. While there is always room to improve, the club didn't enter this offseason with plans to add many pieces. The re-signing of Aaron Nola is likely the biggest move that the Phillies will make prior to Opening Day.
So, while this offseason has dragged on a bit, what are some reasons for Phillies fans to be excited heading into this upcoming season?
The starting rotation is still really good
The Phillies may not have brought in any new big-name pitchers this offseason, but they really didn't need to break the bank in this department. Sure, it's always fun and exciting seeing a fancy new addition, but the truth is, the Phillies' rotation is already solidified without making any changes.
According to FanGraphs, Phillies starters led all teams with a 17.7 fWAR in 2023. The rotation's 4.07 FIP ranked fifth in Major League Baseball and second in the National League. Phillies starters also recorded the third most innings pitched in the majors, with 899 — a total that topped the NL.
Let's remember that the team didn't have an established fifth starter for much of the start of the season. Matt Strahm filled in the role admirably but ultimately was moved back to the bullpen to limit his innings. Cristopher Sánchez didn't become a regular in the rotation until the middle of June. Nola surrendered a career-high 32 home runs and posted a 4.46 ERA.
Zack Wheeler's 3.61 ERA was his highest since joining the Phillies prior to the 2020 season. Taijuan Walker — despite recording 15 wins — was unreliable and was not used in the playoffs. Ranger Suárez battled injuries and inconsistency.
The fact that many pitchers in the rotation performed worse than their career averages indicates that the rotation should be even better in 2024. FanGraphs projects another solid year for the Phillies' rotation, ranking them second in fWAR behind the Atlanta Braves.
A healthy Bryce Harper and comfortable Trea Turner
The Phillies offense started out slow in 2023. By June, however, the bats came alive and the club ranked in the top 10 in home runs, runs, and wRC+. This was all done with two of the club's superstars missing time or slumping. Bryce Harper missed much of the first two months of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Trea Turner was mired in a slump that lasted for more than half of the season.
In a lineup that already boasts plenty of other big-time hitters, having a healthy Harper for a full season and Turner now comfortable in the lineup, the Phillies offense should continue to create an abundance of runs.
The Phillies are going to be competitive again in 2024. Barring injuries, the rotation, bullpen and lineup are good enough to compete with the best teams in baseball. So while the city of Philadelphia suffered another disappointing defeat and end to the Eagles season, the Phillies should make the summer — and hopefully the fall — fun and exciting in the city.