It is finally getting warm, which means only one thing: baseball season is almost upon us! The Phillies begin their season on Thursday at 3:05, when they welcome the reigning NL East champion Atlanta Braves for the start of a 3-game series. With the season starting so soon, we at Philly Sports Network want to give our predictions for the Phillies and the MLB as a whole for this coming season.
We all know that the 2019 Phillies are going to be better than the 2018 Phillies, but just how much better? My official prediction is a 12-game improvement from 80-82 to 92-70. The Phillies will host a playoff game, unfortunately it’s the wildcard playoff game. Fortunately, the Phillies will win over the Chicago Cubs to face the LA Dodgers in the NLDS. Unfortunately, again, the Phillies will lose in 5 games.
Dodgers win over the Cardinals in 6 games in the NLCS to go on to lose their third straight world series and second to the Houston Astros in 6 games.
The X-factor in 2019 for the Phillies will be their sneaky good rotation. Aaron Nola will be 3rd in Cy Young voting for the second consecutive year. Pivetta will have an ERA around 3.3 with a k/9 of 11.2. Eflin with have an ERA around 3.6 with 3 complete games (one shutout). Arrieta will be ok with a 3.92 ERA and a barely over .500 record. Velasquez will be moved to the bullpen or down to AAA by June where Eickhoff pitches to the tune of 10-7 with a 3.85 ERA and a nasty curveball.
JT Realmuto will finish 2nd in MVP voting to Paul Goldschmidt, batting .295/.367/.501 with 29 HRs and 10 SB. Bryce Harper will have an All-Star year and finish 7th in MVP voting, batting .278/.384/.510 with 37 HRs. The Phillies’ lineup will be feared by mid-June.
Across the rest of the MLB, the Cardinals win the Central, Nationals win the East, and Dodgers win the West pretty easily.
In the AL, Indians win the Central, Yankees the East, and Astros the west. The Red Sox are the 1st WC and Rays the 2nd .
Cy Young: NL Walker Buehler, AL Justin Verlander (yes, I know how old he is)
MVP: NL Paul Goldschmidt, AL Michael Brantley
RotY: NL Victor Robles, AL Eloy Jimenez
PS. The Phillies will beat the Braves 7-2 on opening day.
The Phillies offseason was a work of art, and I think they are the team to beat in the NL East despite the three other teams in the Nationals, Braves, and Mets, that could pose a threat. While there are still some questions in the back end of the rotation, the Phillies offense is so ridiculous and will fuel them throughout the 2019 season. They have no holes 1-7 in the lineup (arguably 1-8, depending how you feel about Maikel Franco), and can carry their pitching to wins.
My X-factor for the Phillies is Odubel Herrera. Herrera was an All-Star in 2016, and while he had an off-year last year, he admitted his focus may not have entirely been there. With less pressure on him now in the 6 spot in the lineup, Herrera returning to his 2016 self would turn the Phillies lineup from great to a becoming a juggernaut.
The MVP of the Phils this season is going to be Rhys Hoskins. Hoskins hit 34 homeruns last season when his protection was Odubel Herrera and Carlos Santana, and he now has Bryce Harper and JT Realmuto protecting him in the lineup. I think Hoskins is going to have a *monster* stat-line, along the lines of a .275/.400/.960 slash with 46 homeruns.
And now for my MLB playoff predictions:
NL East: Phillies
NL Central: Brewers
NL West: Dodgers
Wild Card: Nationals, Cardinals
AL East: Yankees
AL Central: Indians
AL West: Astros
Wild Card: Red Sox, Rays
The Indians beat the Dodgers in 6 in the World Series. Phillies fall in the NLCS.
MVP: Scherzer and Lindor
Rookie of the Year: Robles and Kikuchi
Comeback Player of the Year: Puig and Hanley Ramirez