Jose Alvarado was the surprise of the season last year. After being sent down to AAA, he came back better than ever throwing a new-found cutter and sinker. He was a big reason why the Phillies made their 2022 run and he will be a big reason why they go deep this time around or fall short. His 2023 campaign has been riddled with injury but when he’s been on the mound he has been as solid as ever. He has only played in 27 games, but he has a 1.33 era and 41 strikeouts over 27 innings. In previous years his Achilles Heel has been how many walks he’s allowed but he’s been able to limit those this year and when runners do get on, he’s able to work out of trouble with his strikeout ability. The Phillies bullpen, anchored by All-Star Craig Kimbrel, has been one of the true strengths of this year’s team and adding Alvarado back from the IL will only make it stronger. Being able to turn to Seranthony Dominguez, Gregory Soto, Craig Kimbrel and now Jose Alvarado will allow Thomson to shut down games easier and keep deficients small and within reach.
As the Phillie fans like to call him, the BCIB (best catcher in baseball), hasn’t quite lived up to that standard this year. Since becoming a full-time catcher in 2015, he has had his worst year at the plate with career low batting average of .253, second worst on-base percentage at .314 and approaching a career high in strikeouts. His 26% strikeout rate is at an all-time high and his hard-hit percentage is the lowest since 2017. Thomson has consequentially lowered him in the lineup, batting him as low as seven, and it’s probably the best for the team. His defense, however, has remained among the best in the league but there seems to be a bit more pass balls or wild pitches than ever before. What hasn’t changed is his elite pitch calling as praised recently by newly acquired Michael Lorenzen after his no-hitter. As the offense has picked up recently, the 32-year-old has continued to struggle. He has grounded into nine double plays this year and has struck out 71 times in high or medium leverage spots. The Phillies need Realmuto to pick up his offense down the stretch to enable the team to reach it’s highest potential. Time and time again, Realmuto comes up with men on base and a chance to knock them in. In tight games, these opportunities will need to be capitalized on.
At the moment, the Phillies are in a favorable spot to secure their second playoff bid in the last two years, but this team has their sights on a much bigger prize. The team and the fans have World Series aspirations, and they are set up nicely to accomplish those goals. The Phillies need everyone to step up but these five guys coming alive and continuing to perform are most important for the stretch run and hopefully World Series bid.