Your Philadelphia Phillies are back in action for 2023! This year, the Phillies will open the season in Arlington against the Texas Rangers. The last time the Phillies opened against the Rangers was in 2014. Cliff Lee got the start and Jimmy Rollins hit a grand slam.
With new offseason acquisitions in hand, the Phillies look to repeat as National League champions. The Rangers have also stacked up their roster from last season. They should be a good first test for the reigning NL champs.
Let’s look at the matchups.
Game 1: Nola vs. deGrom
Aaron Nola is coming off of the first 200IP+, 230K+, and less than 30 BB season since 1884. He finished 4th in NL Cy Young voting and had a 3.25 ERA. Nola enters the season staring down free agency after the 2023 season. He’s pitching for a massive payday.
The Phillies will face a familiar foe. Jacob deGrom has faced the Phillies 20 times in his career, sporting a 2.18 ERA against them. Jacob deGrom hasn’t through over 100 IP since 2019 but has a 2.08 ERA since 2020.
He threw just 64.1 IP in 2022 with a 3.08 ERA. The Phillies will be hoping they see 2022 deGrom and not 2021 deGrom (1.08 ERA). No current Phillies’ hitter with more than 5 at bats against deGrom has a better than .234 average and .326 slugging %. Both of those categories are led by Trea Turner.
Bryce Harper has a career .930 OPS against deGrom but he is still healing from Tommy John surgery and won’t return for at least 2 months.
Game 2: Wheeler vs. Eovaldi
Zack Wheeler will toe the rubber for game 2. Wheeler had an excellent 2022 but started slow due to a lack of preparation in Spring Training. He posted a 2.82 ERA with a 1.039 WHIP. If you’d ignore his first 3 starts (his spring training), Wheeler had a 2.31 ERA with a 0.983 WHIP. Wheeler looks primed to have another great season as a Philadelphia Phillie.
Nathan Eovaldi is one of the Rangers’ shiny new toys. He has a career 4.16 ERA but has been better of late. In the last 3 seasons, Eovaldi has a 3.79 ERA. He’s also become more of a strikeout pitcher recently. His career 7.6 K/9 has moved to 9.3 K/9 over the past 3 years.
Look for Jake Cave to start in this game. The cave has been excellent against Eovaldi, going 4/7 with a walk against him.
Game 3: Falter vs. Perez
Bailey Falter will look to put the postseason behind him and continue his success from the regular season. Falter posted a 3.86 ERA last season but was a key to the Phillies’ success down the stretch. He had a 3.00 ERA in his last 10 starts of the season. He has never faced the Texas Rangers.
Martin Perez made his first All-Star Game in 2022. The lefty had a 2.89 ERA in 196.1 IP for the Rangers. He never had an ERA lower than 3.62 before last season. He’ll be looking to replicate his 2022 numbers and hopefully lead the Rangers to the playoffs.
Nick Castellanos and Alec Bohm both have hit over .400 against Perez. If the Phillies are going to make noise against the southpaw, look toward them to lead the way.
Players to watch
Trea Turner has become the Phillies’ highest-paid player. He hit 5 homers in the World Baseball Classic and hit .524 in Spring Training. The Phillies’ shortstop has been hot since donning the red pinstripes. Look for him to lead the Phillies’ offense to start the season.
For the Rangers, Josh Jung is a rookie 3rd baseman with oodles of power. He hit 5 homers in his first 26 MLB games. Don’t be surprised if he launches one against the Phillies. He had a .967 OPS in Spring Training.
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Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire