The Phillies already made one splash move on their big-league staff this offseason, hiring former Manager of the Year and World Series champion Joe Girardi as their new skipper. With Girardi now in the fold and their biggest staff vacancy filled, it’s now time for the Phils to turn their attention toward finding a new pitching and hitting coach.
After watching the pitching and batting production plunder under their watch, the Phils canned ex-pitching coach Chris Young and ex-hitting coach John Mallee. As you probably recall, Mallee was dismissed midseason and replaced with Charlie Manuel on an interim basis. With Manuel returning to his role as a senior advisor in the front office, the role of hitting coach is once again vacant.
Finding suitable staff replacements will be an essential endeavor for the Phillies this offseason and will greatly impact the team’s performance in 2020 and beyond. Fortunately for the Phils, both jobs offer tremendous upside and should be in high demand.
On the pitching side, whoever the team dons the next pitching coach will inherit one of the brightest, young hurlers in the game in Aaron Nola. Though he experienced a drop-off in production this past season, Nola still possesses sky-high potential and has already shown he is capable of putting up Cy Young numbers when he gets it rolling. In 2018, Nola allowed just 56 ER in 212 1⁄3 innings pitched. For comparison’s sake, Gerrit Cole- who is largely viewed as the favorite to be named the AL Cy Young award winner this season- allowed 59 ER in 212 1⁄3 innings pitched this year.
Having just turned 26-years-old this past summer, Nola is now entering the prime of his career. With five years of big-league experience under his belt, Nola could complete his evolution into a bonafide ace if paired with a capable pitching coach.
Aside from Nola, the Phillies also boast a ton of other young arms that have yet to reach their full potential. If the Phillies can find the right man for the job, they could see a massive turnaround for a group that surrendered 731 earned runs last season.
The vacant hitting coach job in Philly, though, is an even more enticing opportunity. With Bryce Harper, J.T Realmuto, Jean Segura, Rhys Hoskins, and Andrew McCutchen under contract, the Phillies’ next batting coach would take over a dominant unit primed to compete in 2020.
Under the counsel of ex-hitting coach John Mallee, the Phillies offense was incredibly streaky for most of the year before becoming utterly lifeless towards the end of the season. Freshly-minted Phils manager Joe Girardi will look to find a candidate that can add some punch to the Phils offense and establish a team identity at the plate.
The next hitting coach will also be tabbed with the task of sparking the resurgence of Rhys Hoskins. After swatting 18 home runs in just 50 games on pace to a fourth-place rookie of the year finish, Hoskins has cooled off considerably at the plate. The 26-year-old first baseman is batting a lowly .236 over the last two seasons and has experienced a dip in power as well.
While a two-year stretch of minimal production is certainly concerning, it’s hard to imagine that Hoskins is beyond salvation at the plate. Though I have my doubts, I lean on the side that Hoskins will reflect more of what we saw in his rookie season that what he’s been the last two years. Still, it’ll be up to the next hitting coach to help Hoskins right the ship offensively.
Although they certainly shouldn’t rush, Girardi and the Phillies will have to move quickly to fill their remaining staff vacancies, as effective pitching and hitting coaches are in low-supply and high-demand. This is a storyline worth monitoring closely and one that hopefully ends with the right candidates being selected.
Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports