The Phillies are now six games, five played against professional opponents, into Spring Training, and as such, it’s time to take a look back at the first week of the prequel to the 2018 campaign.
Aaron Nola Named Opening Day Starter
For the first time in his professional career, 24-year-old Aaron Nola will take the mound as the Phillies’ Opening Day starter. This decision was made late in February, despite the regular season not starting for nearly five weeks, out of necessity more than anything else. Nola was a lone, shining beacon in a dark, starless night throughout 2017, and has been rewarded with the Opening Day salvo. Last season, Nola set career highs in wins, ERA, starts, innings pitched, strikeouts and WHIP, keeping the rotating panel of guest starters in check. The Phillies had 12 different pitchers start a game in 2017, and Nola led them in nearly every statistical category. While Nola is currently tabbed as the Phillies’ Opening Day starter, that could all change if…
The Phillies Sign Starter Jake Arrieta
Over the last few weeks, the Phillies and former Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta have been engaged “in discussions”. What that means is surely up for interpretation. But what is certainly means is that the Phillies have, at worst, a slight interest in signing the 31-year-old. Arrieta would come at a steep price, but money should not be a concern for the club, who have a double-digit number of players on minimum or controllable deals. I’ve spoken very openly that Arrieta wouldn’t do nearly as much for the Phillies as many fans hope, and that the team is still a few pieces away from competing, but what he does is make the club far more sturdy. Arrieta would immediately slot into the “number one” role in the rotation, sliding Nola down to a very productive number two. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Kapler will break his word, and demote Nola out of the Opening Day start, but it certainly would give him something to think about.
Major Injury To A Spring Training Competitor
A few days ago, a Phillie suffered the club’s first major injury of Spring Training. Non-roster invitee, utility man Will Middlebrooks, suffered a broken tibia in a collision with outfielder Andrew Pullin late in Saturday afternoon’s game against the Baltimore Orioles. Middlebrooks and Pullin tracked in opposite directions for a quickly falling fly ball when the two crashed into each other, breaking Middlebrooks’ leg. Middlebrooks wasn’t a lock to make the roster, but instead, was one of a handful of players looking to rejuvenate their careers with the Phillies. The 29-year-old has taken to social media to ensure that he will play this season, but it will take an extended recovery process before he can hit the field again.
Kapler Toying With Different Lineups
Over the course of just the first six games, Gabe Kapler has decided to move his key pieces around in hopes of finding the perfect lineup. Whether you’re okay with this shuffling of the lineup, or see it more of throwing the team against the wall and hoping it sticks, Kapler is at least offering himself options moving forward. He’s seeing if Tommy Joseph can play the outfield. He’s shuffling Roman Quinn between the infield and outfield. He’s putting Carlos Santana and Jorge Alfaro is different spots in the batting order to see where they fit best. And for these efforts, I am grateful. I’m grateful because Kapler is willing to take the risks here in February and March in order to attempt to succeed moving forward. I’m off the mindset that Carlos Santana should lead off for the Phillies this year. It’s not a popular thought, but if you need to ask why I think this is the case, go back and read any of my baseball pieces over the last year. Santana provides the team with the best chance to score runs early.
Team Will Honor Roy Halladay During Regular Season
The Phillies announced today that the team will honor former starting pitcher Roy Halladay posthumously on August 4 during the team’s yearly induction ceremony. Halladay technically does not qualify for the Wall of Fame induction, as he worked in a Phillies’ uniform for only four season, one shy of the Wall’s requirement. It appears the team is going to bypass this rule in order to induct Halladay this season. Halladay won 55 games over four seasons for the Phillies, including 21 in his first in red pinstripes on his way to his second career Cy Young Award, becoming the fifth pitcher to win the award in both leagues. Since then, Max Scherzer became the sixth to accomplish this feat. That season, Halladay led the league in wins, innings pitched, complete games, shutouts and batters faced.
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