Phillies' 2024 ZiPS projections: The starters
Zack Wheeler will be fine in 2024, according to ZiPS. The projection thinks Wheeler will run a 3.61 ERA (identical to 2023) and a 3.42 FIP. Being 34 years old and a pitcher, he could miss a few games and projects to finish with 172 innings over 29 starts.
ZiPS doesn't think Aaron Nola will hit the 200-inning mark either, sliding in at around 180 frames in 2024. The good news is that he'll improve his ERA to 3.84, his FIP to 3.31, and only give up 22 home runs. Phew!
Suárez projects for a 4.02 ERA, Sánchez for a 4.36 ERA, and Walker for a 4.67 ERA. And ZiPS doesn't think any of them will surpass 150 innings.
"Wheeler-Nola is a fine one-two punch, and the emergence of Ranger Suárez and Cristopher Sánchez has given the Phillies a lot more runway to survive if calamity strikes," Szymborski writes. "Taijuan Walker’s semi-cromulent performance looks a lot better when he’s only being counted on to be the fifth-best pitcher in the rotation."
ZiPS ranks the Phillies' rotation fourth out of the currently projected teams (20 have been released at the time of writing) behind the Braves, Mariners, and Dodgers. Another top starter from the free agent market to add front-end depth would definitely help.
Phillies' 2024 ZiPS projections: The relievers
The primary bullpen arms will perform like the primary bullpen arms we expect in 2024.
José Alvarado projects for a 3.58 ERA, 3.41 FIP, and a 31.8 percent strikeout rate. What we don't know yet is how many saves ZiPS thinks the big lefty will lock down. And isn't that the biggest question on everyone's mind with the bullpen as currently constructed?
"The computer really likes José Alvarado, Matt Strahm, and Orion Kerkering, and is at least a friendly acquaintance with Jeff Hoffman and Seranthony Domínguez," Szymborski says. "But the relievers it’s not keen on, like Dylan Covey and Andrew Bellatti, it hates with the kind of burning passion that should worry people who fear AI uprisings."
He's not joking about Covey, who projects for a 5.44 ERA and 5.19 FIP with 26 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings. Or Bellatti and his 5.20 ERA and 4.79 FIP. At least Bellatti is destined to record more strikeouts (55) than innings pitched (45).
The final verdict for the Phillies' 2024 ZiPS projections
So what does Szymborski think of the Phillies after looking at all of the early ZiPS data? It looks like a boom or bust year for Bryce Harper and company, in which things have to fall the right way to compete for the NL East.
"They [the Phillies] still need an awful lot to go right for them and wrong for Atlanta to be serious contenders for the division. But they’re a top-tier Wild Card team and if the rotation stays healthy, they can power themselves pretty far in October once again."
Although he warns that while the Phillies are a good team, "... with just the right mix of plausible, unfortunate outcomes, it could be susceptible to one of those depressing implosions like the Mets or Cardinals last year."
Yikes. Let's hope for everyone's sake, that that doesn't happen.
But that's the thing about projections — they're just projections. The players still have to go out and play ball, and as we saw in 2022, anything can happen once the season starts.