Second Half Preview: Can the Phillies return to the World Series in 2023?

Phillies World series
Members of the Philadelphia Phillies including Bryce Harper, right, and Kyle Schwarber, second from left, celebrate in the clubhouse after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals to win a National League wild-card baseball playoff series, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Scott Kane)

Phillies fans, we can all take a deep breath as the All-Star break is upon us.

While we sit back and enjoy the festivities, the Philadelphia Phillies will take this time to relax and reset before the second half of the season begins.

Philadelphia enters the All-Star break with a 48-41 record. They are 0.5 games back of the San Francisco Giants for the final Wild Card spot and trail the Atlanta Braves by 12 games for the National League East.

The second half story will be the same this year as it was last year for the Phightins: get into the Wild Card round and get hot at the right time.

In this article, let’s lay out what Philadelphia needs to do to get back to the World Series.

Phillies need to control their own destiny

In order to make it into the playoffs, Philadelphia must grab control of their own destiny.

With 73 games left to play, this team needs to get to the 90-win mark in order to make the playoffs. Currently chasing the Giants, Dodgers, and Marlins, the competition is steep this season for the Wild Card. Unlike last year, the Phils won’t be able to back their way into a playoff berth.

To achieve the 90-win threshold, they have to go 42-31 for the reason of the season. Playing at a mark of 11 games over .500 should be very attainable, with one of the softer schedules in Major League Baseball left to be played.

In the second half, the Phillies will play more home games than road games. 35 of their final 73 games will be at Citizens Bank Park, where the Phils thrive. Combined with warm weather in July and August, this could be a recipe for success.

Phillies Brandon marsh
Philadelphia Phillies’ Brandon Marsh, top, beats the throw to Miami Marlins’ Luis Arraez, bottom, for a double during the third inning of a baseball game, Monday, April 10, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Marginal Improvements

I do not expect nor believe that the Phillies will be adding a big-name player at the MLB Trade Deadline.

Last season, the team improved by rounding out their roster, rather than making a big splash. Adding guys like Noah Syndergaard, Brandon Marsh, and David Robertson were strong moves that improved the team overall.

I’d expect Dave Dombrowski to follow that same game plan this season. The big-name players are already in place, and you have to expect that Bryce Harper and Trea Turner are a closer version of themselves in the second half.

Speaking of Bryce Harper, he is the linchpin for the entire Trade Deadline. If Harper can play first base, Dave Dombroski could look to add a corner outfielder, and they would be able to get Kyle Schwarber in the DH role. This would be an example of improving the offense and defense in one move.

The need for another reliever might be more apparent than adding a 5th starter. The Phils have had one of baseball’s best bullpens this season. Despite injuries to some of their top-end talents, the overall unit has been fantastic, capped off with Craig Kimbrel representing the group in the All-Star game.

Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel, left, celebrates with catcher Garrett Stubbs after the final out in the team’s 5-4 win in a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, June 15, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Staying Healthy

The reason I would advocate for grabbing another reliever is strictly due to insurance. Jose Alvarado has now been sent to the IL for the second time this season. He is joining Seranthony Dominguez, who has had some injury issues in the past.

These two players were key in the Phillies’ run last October, and while I think they will return to the team without issues, and they cannot afford to enter the playoffs without them.

In addition, the ‘pen is not at the top of the list, but I think it is worth some consideration. With the injury bug appearing at the back end of the bullpen, it couldn’t hurt to add another talent.

The same goes for the rest of the roster as well. Philadelphia already lost Rhys Hoskins for the season and while they maintained good play in the wake of injuries last season, I don’t see a path to the postseason if guys like Nick Castellanos or Zack Wheeler go down.

Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Bryce Harper celebrates with the trophy after winning the baseball NL Championship Series in Game 5 against the San Diego Padres on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Will there be another Red October?

I believe the Phillies will return to the playoffs in 2023.

Red October will once again run through Philadelphia, and the Phightins will have a chance to defend their National League crown.

With that being said, there is a lot of work to be done. Starting by winning some series, staying healthy, and adding a couple of players at the deadline, the Phillies will once again return to baseball in October.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Scott Kane