Bryce Harper

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

9 positive bold predictions for the 2019 Phillies

Jack Fritz
March 27, 2019 - 12:00 pm
Categories: 

Just because the official Phillies hashtag this year is #RingTheBell, and not #BeBold, doesn’t mean we have to stop being bold.

Related: Kapler: Phillies will have 'more lineup consistency'

Thursday at 3:00 pm, baseball is going to officially be back in Philadelphia.

Gone are the days of bad players like Freddy Galvis, Cedric Hunter and Sean O’Sullivan. These are the new Phillies, with a new core, that is poised to take over this town for, not only the next six months, but for the next decade.

However, before we can start a Phillies season let’s get some BOLD predictions out there:

1. Rhys Hoskins leads the National League in RBI

This is a bit of a hat-tip to my co-host on the High Hopes podcast James Seltzer, but Rhys Hoskins is going to lead the NL in RBI this year, and it really won’t be that close.

Hoskins last season, with no protection and no one in front of him managed to drive in 96 runs. Now, he’s going to have some semblance of McCutchen, Segura and Harper all in front of him and Realmuto protecting him.

Hoskins is going to have a MONSTER year at the dish. The NL leader in RBI last year was Javy Baez with 110. Psh, Hoskins could sleep-walk to 110 RBI this year.

35 homers and 120 RBI from Hoskins this year.

Book it.

2. Nick Pivetta finishes top 10 in Cy Young voting and strikes out 200-plus batters

I hope you are all ready for #BreakoutPivetta.

Pivetta has come into camp throwing darts. He’s touched 99 a couple times, while settling in at an average fastball around 95 MPH. Couple that fastball, with an elite curveball, and the development of his slider and change-up, and we could be in for a monster season from Pivetta.

Striking out 200-plus guys shouldn’t be that outlandish.

Last year, in 164 innings, Pivetta struck out 188 guys. 200 strikeouts is right in Pivetta’s sight in 2019.

The Cy Young will be the harder part, obviously.

Barring injury I think the first six in the NL Cy Young race will fall like this:

Jacob DeGrom

Max Scherzer

Aaron Nola

Walker Buehler

Jack Flaherty

Noah Syndergaard

And then Pivetta is in the tier with: Jameson Taillon, Patrick Corbin, German Marquez, Zack Wheeler, Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg.

Breakout Pivetta is coming.

3. Bryce Harper wins National League MVP

Is this even bold considering that our new right fielder, and face of our franchise, is the ODDS-ON FAVORITE to win the NL MVP?

To me, Harper is eager to prove the doubters wrong and, judging by how he’s handled himself since he’s gotten here, Philadelphia feels like a fresh start for him.

Sure, there’s an immense amount of pressure on a guy that just got paid $330 million, but I still feel like the burden of the Nationals is off him and we’re going to see a relaxed Harper mashing at Citizens Bank Park this summer.

Couple playing in Citizens Bank Park, with the protection around him, 40 home runs should be in Harper’s line-of-sight.

I’m excited for Bryce Harper to remind everyone that he’s Bryce freakin’ Harper this summer.

4. Jared Eickhoff plays an integral role in helping the Phillies make the playoffs in 2019

The Phillies had remarkable health in their rotation last season. The only starter to miss some time was Vince Velasquez after he got crushed with a line-drive off his elbow.

There’s a small chance that level of health keeps up in 2019, that’s just the reality of the position. If this happens, the Phillies have loads of guys that are ready to come up and help if needed.

The first one to get that call will be Jared Eickhoff.

After battling injuries the last couple of seasons, Eickhoff is finally healthy and looked good in his last spring start.

For Eickhoff to be a good starter in this league, he needs to get back to what he did in 2016. A lot of curveballs, no matter the count, to keep hitters off his fastball.

In a recent quote to Matt Gelb of The Athletic,it seems like Eickhoff realizes this and is eager to get back his 2016 form.

Whether it be Velasquez pitching himself out of the rotation, or an injury to their other starters, Eickhoff is going to save the season for the Phillies.

5. Scott Kingery forces the Phillies hand

Scott Kingery is going to remind folks why the Phillies gave him a historic contract before the start of the last season. Even though he doesn’t have a set position, Kingery is going to force the Phillies hand this summer.

Whether it be supplanting Franco at third, or convincing the Phillies he’s good enough to where they can package Cesar Hernandez in a trade this summer, Kingery is going to open some eyes this season.

It looked like the game was slowing down for him in September last year and his bat, towards the end of Spring Training, looked much like the Kingery we had seen in the last couple of springs.

Now in year two, and without the immense pressure surrounding him, Kingery is going to remind us why everyone was begging for him to get called up to begin last season.

6. Adam Morgan becomes a shutdown lefty reliever

Two things that always lead to a breakout, in my eyes.

An increase in velo and a teams analytics department telling a guy to throw more sliders. Well, the Phillies came to Morgan this offseason and told him to throw his slider more, and for good reason, because his fastball got RIPPED last season.

Hitters hit .444 off Morgan’s four-seamer last season. That is… not good. However, they only hit .194 off his slider. I’m no numbers guy, but if I was reading into that I might tell Morgan to throw his slider more as well.

Jose Alvarez is a good consistent pitcher, but Morgan is going to be their guy in 2019.

7. Odubel Herrera makes the All Star team

Here’s the thing with Odubel Herrera.

When he’s being relied upon to be your best player, your team isn’t going to be very good. For three years there, Herrera was relied upon to be this teams best player, so of course those teams weren’t any good and everything was magnified.

Now Herrera, who is a very good player, is being relied upon to be this lineups six hitter with five potential, and former, All Star’s ahead of him.

Before heading into a tailspin last year, Herrera was batting .360. The talent is there for Herrera to be one of the best center fielders in the sport, and now that the pressure is pretty much off him, he’s going to flourish.

Herrera came into camp, in the best shape of his life (because of course), and the Phils paired him with a mental skills coach this offseason.

If the Phillies get a locked-in Herrera with the natural talent he has… ooo boy, watch out.

This is the year Philadelphia falls in love with Odubel.

8. Seranthony Dominguez makes the All Star team

Seranthony Dominguez is the perfect modern-day reliever.

Dominguez was untouchable for most of last summer. He’s got a high-nineties fastball, with some cut on it, paired with a wipe-out slider. He looks like a younger, smaller, Kenley Jansen. But he faltered down the stretch of last season because he wasn’t prepared for the workload the Phillies laid upon him.

The Phillies ran Seranthony into the ground last year because he was their best option and even at 75% he was still their best option. He was also a starter his whole life before last season so he wasn’t used to having to pitch on back-to-back days.

Now Seranthony had a full offseason to get prepared for a season where he’s going to be used all over the place.

“The Fireman” is going to be Seranthony’s role in 2019, and with the importance of that position, and the use that comes with that role, Seranthony is going to be well within position to make the All Star team in 2019.

9. Philadelphia falls back in love with baseball

You know why there was so much talk of baseball “dying” in this city? Because baseball is a regional sport and the team here wasn’t very good.

The Phillies from 2007-2011 ran this town and you can bet that no one was saying back then that baseball was “dying.”

I’m excited for Philadelphia to fall back in love with baseball this summer and remind the folks that haven’t paid attention for the last eight years just how awesome of a sport baseball is.

I’ve missed the feeling of knowing that at 7 o’clock each night there’s a good baseball team to tune into. Night-in, night-out there’s always one constant during the summer: baseball.

Falling in love with a baseball team is unlike falling in love with other sports teams. You see these guys 162 times a year and ride the rollercoaster that is a baseball season with them.

“How can you not be romantic about baseball.”

Welcome back, Phillies.