For the reigning National League champion Philadelphia Phillies, it feels like the Opening Day roster is pretty much set. With a few minor spots left to be claimed in Spring Training, it is safe to say we can predict the starting lineup on March 30th in Texas.
The Super Bowl has come and gone, which means it is officially baseball season.
Major League Baseball will see their pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training this week; it will be Opening Day sooner than later.
*Note: This lineup construction is for Opening Day. Once Bryce Harper returns in mid-season, I believe there will be several changes to include our MVP.
The Phillies will open their season on the road against the Texas Rangers. The Rangers spent a lot of money this past off-season and signed former New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom. Phillies fans are well aware of the kind of pitcher we will be dealing with come Opening Day.
With that in mind, below would be my ideal starting lineup against right-handed starting pitchers to start 2023.
While Kyle Schwarber did a great job as the leadoff hitter last season, Trea Turner needs to leadoff for the Phillies this season. His elite offensive toolbox includes outstanding bat-to-ball skills, and Turner is arguably the faster player in the league. The Phillies shortstop has experience in the role and excels at it. I can already picture a lead-off single, followed by a stolen base, to have a runner in scoring position to start nearly every game.
Change at 2 & 3
I would then have Alec Bohm bat second. Bohm led the Phillies in hits last season and grew as a big-league hitter. Bohm was moved around the lineup quite a lot last season but thrived when given opportunities at the top. Moving Rhys Hoskins out of the second spot would benefit all parties. Giving Bohm the chance to take his game to the next level and allowing Rhys to slide down, taking some pressure off his shoulders, feels like a worthy move to start the season.
Personally, I like my power hitter batting third in a lineup, and Kyle Schwarber is the Phillies’ power hitter. Schwarbs hit 46 homeruns in the 2022 regular season, which was at the top of the Phillies lineup. He drove in 94 RBIs but could have easily driven in 110+ if he had more opportunities with players on base. Moving Kyle to third should give him more chances with runners in scoring position. Besides, even if the first two batters are retired, Schwarber has shown he can easily hit solo homeruns.
Benefits of a Deep Lineup
My 4-5-6 of Realmuto, Hoskins, and Hall feel unfair in many ways.
Realmuto thrived in the cleanup spot for the Phillies in 2022. He was arguably their best player last season, and his offensive numbers in the second half validated him hitting fourth. As mentioned, sliding Rhys down to 5 will make him feel more comfortable in his at-bats. Allowing him to just focus on crushing balls instead of working long counts could help prevent these long cold streaks.
Darick Hall showed in limited time last season that he can crush right-handed pitching in the big leagues. Hall hit 9 homeruns last season in 124 at-bats against righties. With Bryce gone to start the year, I would like to see Hall get the opportunity to start as the DH when the Phillies face a righty.
Nick Castellanos batting seventh in any lineup shows you how deep it truly is. While Castellanos had a down year by his standards, we will see the Castellanos of old this season. Nick will be the first person to tell you there are no excuses and that he will get things rolling again. I expect that to happen in 2023, but to start the year, I will have him down in the 7 hole, which is by no means a demotion.
Rounding out our lineup will be the young guns of the Phillies; Bryson Stott and Brandon Marsh. Both players showed tremendous growth in the second half of last season. They both provided massive hits and at-bats in the Phillies’ quest for the World Series, and I am excited to see them with hitting coach Kevin Long for another season.
It is pretty safe to say that Stott is the better hitter of the two, so batting him 8th is what I would do if I were Rob Thomson. However, I don’t think you can go wrong either way, and I expect them both to thrive at the bottom of the Phillies lineup in 2023.
Photo by John Adams/Icon Sportswire