The Phillies have struggled for the last decade at drafting and developing their talent. As a new regime has taken over, it will be important for the Phils to rebuild their organization from the ground up.
While players like Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott are on the minds of all Phillies fans, the player that can shape the 2022 season will be Ranger Suarez.
The Ben Zobrist of Pitching
Ranger Suarez was a jack of all trades in 2021. The Phillies asked him to do anything and everything last season, and Ranger delivered.
When Suarez returned to the major leagues he started off in the bullpen. He would be asked to eat innings in the middle of games and Ranger proved he could handle that spot with ease. After performing well, Joe Girardi gave Suarez a chance to become the team’s closer. Ranger remained the closer until the Phillies acquired Ian Kennedy from the Texas Rangers in a trade deadline move.
A season-ending injury to Zach Eflin would require Joe Girardi to move Ranger Suarez back to the starting rotation, the spot where he was most comfortable. After becoming a starter once again, Ranger Suarez would keep dealing. On September 25th, he would throw a complete-game shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
For 2021 as a whole Ranger Suarez went 8-5 with a 1.36 earned run average, in 39 games and 106 innings pitched. He struck out 107 and only walked 33 to have a 3.24 strikeout to walk ratio. In every role, he was placed in Ranger Suarez went above and beyond in 2021. His 2022 could be much of the same.
The Phillies Missing Piece
The Phillies have two stars in their starting rotation in Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. The top of the rotation is strong and the bottom of the rotation is rounded out with decent talent in Zach Eflin and Kyle Gibson. Ranger Suarez is projected to be the Phillies’ third starter once Opening Day rolls around. Suarez has the chance to be the missing piece for a club that is looking to contend.
If Ranger can maintain the level he pitched at in 2021, he will be an All-Star this season. The chances of him repeating such dominance are slim but the Phillies are not going to ask him to be that guy again. Allowing Suarez to settle into one role this season can only help him as he grows as a pitcher.
Maintaining status as starting pitcher will help maximize Ranger and it will protect his arm by not having him switch up his routine so many times. Ranger Suarez is a throwback pitcher, a guy who uses command and placement, not impressive velocity, to get batters out.
Having young players step up will be critical if the Phillies wish to end their 11 season playoff drought. The Phils the top of the line talent that playoff teams require, and it will be the bottom of the roster that has to come through. Ranger Suarez can be a gamechanger if he develops into a solid number three starter and the Phillies are going to count on him to deliver once again.
Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire