Philadelphia Phillies 2024 preview

The Philadelphia Phillies adopted the “if it ain’t broke” strategy this offseason. Not only did they re-sign Aaron Nola to still be the 1b to 1a Zack Wheeler, but they actually bolstered the roster a little bit with free agent utility man Whit Merrifield. They also added a reliever in Spencer Turnbull that I will never quit. So, I like what the Phillies are bringing into the season.

And, frankly, why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t anybody? The Phillies were one win away from heading back to the World Series as the National League representative. Not only that, but they had both games at home because they wound up with home-field advantage after the Dodgers and Braves both got bounced. It was the Phillies who bounced the Braves for the second straight season.


Unfortunately, the Philly bats went silent with just three runs over Games 6 and 7 and it was the Diamondbacks who went to the Fall Classic. With basically everybody except Nola locked down, a quiet offseason was not the least bit surprising. Philly bid adieu to Rhys Hoskins, who missed last season after suffering a torn ACL, and Trade Deadline acquisitions Craig Kimbrel and Michael Lorenzen. They only had six impending free agents. Nola was the only one they kept.

About the only bummer heading into the season is that top prospect Andrew Painter will miss the entire 2024 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last July. Other than that, the Phillies are poised for another playoff appearance.

2024 Philadelphia Phillies Odds

(odds from DraftKings as of Mar. 20)

World Series: +1400

NL Pennant: +750

NL East: +310

Win Total: 89.5 (-105/-115)

Make Playoffs: Yes -235 / No +190

Philadelphia Phillies Preview: Offense

If we’re being honest, I think the Phillies offense could have been better last season. They finished 10th in wRC+ at 105,  but it sure felt like the group was capable of a whole lot more. One guy in particular should have been a lot better and that guy is Trea Turner. Once he came alive in the second half, that’s when the Phillies really started to get it together. After the World Baseball Classic, it seemed like Turner, and several other Americans, got off to slow starts.

He batted just .247 in the first half with an 84 wRC+ and a 24.1% K%. In the second half, he posted a 140 wRC+ and struck out only 18.6% of the time. The Phillies were decent in the first half thanks to a good June with a 48-41 record at the Break, but they only had a +9 run differential. After the Break, they were 42-31 with a +72 run differential. Their .575 win percentage would’ve been a 93-win pace, so weren’t that far off, but they were only 25-30 entering June.

There was another offensive development that stood out a bit last season. Bryce Harper’s season didn’t start until May. When all was said and done, Harper slashed .293/.401/.499 and hit 21 homers in his 546 plate appearances. He battled a bad back in Spring Training, so we’ll see if that slows him down a bit, but a healthy Harper is likely to get back over 30 homers again. I don’t know if we’ll see his absurd 2021 MVP campaign ever again with a 170 wRC+, but there is room for improvement.

Then there’s J.T. Realmuto, who had his lowest wRC+ since his rookie year in 2015. His 102 wRC+ meant he was 2% better than league average. Offense jumped up around the league and his bat didn’t, so that was a big part of it, but it was a bit of a down year for him as well.

At the end of the day, some guys are likely to get better, some guys are likely to get worse, but this is such a deep lineup. Each of the top eight guys in plate appearances from last season returns and all eight of them had a wRC+ of 101 or higher. I think we consider league average to be a bad thing, but it really isn’t.

Also, Bryson Stott stole 31 bases last season with a 101 wRC+. Alec Bohm was better. Brandon Marsh was way better, though I don’t expect that to continue to the full degree with a .397 BABIP and a 30.5% K%, but he walked twice as often, so there could be some sustainability to that. Johan Rojas was worth 1.4 fWAR in just 59 games.

There is a very, very strong case to be made that this offense improves this season, especially with a bat-to-ball guy like Merrifield who can swipe some bags and keep guys fresh in a super-utility role.

Philadelphia Phillies Preview: Pitching

This was the area of the ballclub that I was worried about last season, mostly because it was hard to tell who would emerge behind Wheeler and Nola. Wheeler has arguably been the best pitcher in baseball over the last three seasons and actually has the most fWAR in that span with 17.3, a full 1.5 wins better than Kevin Gausman dating back to 2021. He’s truly elite with a high K%, low BB%, and incredible command.

The guy who is fourth on that fWAR list dating back to 2021 is Nola with 14.6 wins. That’s higher than Gerrit Cole, Logan Webb, Sandy Alcantara, Max Scherzer, and more. That being said, I will admit to being fairly concerned about Nola, as his K% dropped, his BB% increased, and he went back to allowing a lot of home runs. His 15.6% HR/FB% was nearly 6% higher than his career year in 2022. His Hard Hit% against jumped and so did his Barrel%.

I think the Phillies paid for his floor in free agency because I think they realize that he’s probably met his ceiling. The 4.46 ERA doesn’t really worry me a ton because the peripherals were better and a 66.4% LOB% was a main culprit, however, some of that has to do with more balls in play with that 3.6% drop in K%. I think he’ll be good. I don’t think he’ll be great. It’s Wheeler’s job to be great. But, Nola still provides a high floor as a No. 2.

What I’m genuinely curious about is if Ranger Suarez has another gear. The 28-year-old was strong in the playoffs last season, but had a 4.18 ERA with a 4.36 xERA and a 3.90 FIP last season. When league average for starters was in the 4.40s across the board, you’ll certainly take what Suarez gave you, especially with an above average offense in support. But, I still want more. I want to see the K% inch up and the BB% inch down. The contact management numbers are really good, but the Phillies are still an iffy defensive team. More strikeouts takes it out of the fielders’ hands. That would be a huge positive.

Because you’ve already got Taijuan Walker, who is a JAG to me. He’s just a guy. He’s there. He’s an average starter with the upside for slightly more than that, but, he, too, pitches to a lot of contact. Cristopher Sanchez was solid with a 3.44 ERA and a 3.99 FIP over his 99.1 innings of work. Is he the guy to take the leap and not Suarez?

The nice thing is that Mick Abel is just about ready and FanGraphs listed him as the 22nd-best prospect in baseball. Like I mentioned at the top, it would have been awesome to see Painter this season, but Abel is at least a ceiling guy for a rotation that could use just a little more of it.

On the plus side, the Phillies are running it back with essentially the same solid bullpen. They were seventh in ERA and fifth in FIP last season. Like I said, Turnbull is a guy that could really play up in short spurts, but he won’t be relied upon for a lot. The Phillies have their leverage guys in Jose Alvarado, Jeff Hoffman, Gregory Soto, and Seranthony Dominguez. We’ll also see way more of Orion Kerkering this season and he’s downright filthy.

Philadelphia Phillies Player to Watch

SP Ranger Suarez

The truth is that Suarez has a bad fastball. His Fastball Run Value ranked in the 23rd percentile last season. His changeup was also bad, ranking in the 12th percentile in Offspeed Run Value. However, his curveball is elite, ranking in the 92nd percentile in Breaking Run Value. The question is how the Phillies try to optimize his arsenal moving forward. He was in the 71st percentile in Hard Hit% and 79th percentile in GB%. Those are good things. But, how do they find some more swing and miss?

Well, the curveball is a start. His usage of the pitch went from 7.8% to 19% from 2022 to 2023. Opposing hitters hit .304 with a .478 SLG on his four-seamer, which he actually threw at a higher rate last season. I’d rather see more sinkers, which go for hits, but generally fewer extra-base hits. The Phillies have experimented with a cutter, which has had mixed results, but his changeup does generate some whiffs. I think arsenal tweaks would help and I have to think that they’ve been working on some.

Philadelphia Phillies Season Win Total Odds & Prediction

I find their season win total line to be a very fair number. I do think the offense could improve and we’ll see if the team gets a little better defensively as well. Where I would have a real issue with locking in any sort of future or season-long prop is with the pitching staff. They are a six-week Nola or Wheeler injury away from being up against it for a while. Depth is a huge concern here. They’ve been extremely fortunate during this window that Wheeler has made 90 starts over the last three years and Nola has made 96 starts. There is a sizable drop-off behind those two guys.

Also, you do have to wonder about the additional workloads on Wheeler, Nola, and the bullpen guys. Making the playoffs is obviously better than not making it, but that’s another 63.1 innings on Wheeler and 48.2 on Nola, not to mention the extra tosses for the relievers. You could attribute the slow start last season to that. There could be one this season as well. They’ve essentially added an extra month each of the last two years.

So, while I think this is both a high-floor and a high-ceiling team, I cannot invest before the season. The margin for error with pitcher health is simply too small. But, if Wheeler and Nola are healthy, I’d argue this is the best regular season version of the Phillies that they’ve had in recent history and the last two teams have won 177 combined games.

Lean: Over 89.5

Get all of our preseason coverage in the 2024 MLB Betting Guide.