Well, questions fill the 2020 baseball season, Will we have a season? How many games will there be? When is opening day? Are some of the many questions asked by Major League Baseball’s beloved fans. Opening day was originally pushed back two weeks but that didn’t last long as now there is no date set for opening day, but rumors continue to bring up July 4th as the most possible option. If the schedule after the July 4th opening day remains the same each team will play 75 games give or take. What does that mean for the Phillies?
Only playing 75 games is a major difference then playing 162, and I think that will benefit the Phillies in 2020. Why, you ask. Well last year the Phillies jumped out to an early division lead carrying in to the all star break. I think this team is built to do that again. With the late start McCutchen will be able to play on opening day. After McCutchen’s ACL injury in May of last year the team was not the same, all year they couldn’t find any consistent leadoff hitter to fill the role costing them games down the stretch. A healthy, consistent and veteran leadoff hitter will do wonders for this team in a short season.
The Phillies had a plethora of issues with depth in the bullpen due to injury in 2019. Young and unproven arms blew tons of late leads for the Philadelphia club that may have just been the reason they couldn’t play October baseball last year. With a banged up bullpen lacking depth the short season could allow for those bullpen arms to not be overworked preventing injury and allowing your best pitchers to pitch in the biggest moments.
With all this being said there are still major concerns about the pitching staff. The Phils staff struggled throughout 2019, and the organization did little to fix it in the offseason. They signed Mets former pitcher Zach Wheeler to be the number two starter. Wheeler has good stuff and can throw 100 mph, but acquiring one pitcher wasn’t enough. With Arrieta, who hasn’t lived up to his contract, and Eflin, who has been inconsistent, to say the least, as the 3 and the 4 starters in the rotation that leaves major question marks. Even as we passed the original date for opening day there has been no word on who the fifth and final starter will be. In my mind, the most possible outcome is Vince Velasquez. Velasquez, or as he’s known “Vinny V” was the opening day starter just a few years ago, but a major spike in ERA and a lack of location has caused a significant decline in his career.
Where does this put the Phillies in the division? Well, I believe it could put them second in the division behind the Braves. I think we could see the Phils capture a wild card spot and play one game, win or go home, to try to get into the NLDS for the first time since 2011 when they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in 5 games. If the Phillies find themselves playing in October anything can happen, we saw it last year with the Nationals and who knows maybe the Phils will be Major League Baseball’s Cinderella story in 2020.