This season ended the same way every season has ended since 2013 for the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies did not make the playoffs for the sixth straight season and now questions surround the future of this franchise especially considering how this team faltered down the stretch. While this team made huge strides towards once again being a contender for the World Series title Matt Klentak and his staff still have some work to accomplish in order for this organization to compete in 2019.
First this team is in desperate need of an accomplished veteran closer. From the start of this season, the closer role was an issue for the Phillies. Hector Neris struggled out the gate closing games and was replaced early in the season by the rookie phenom Seranthony Dominguez. Seranthony started off strong but he then also started to struggle and was replaced by Pat Neshek. Though Pat performed admirably in the role his real position is a long reliever who can pitch the middle innings. An experienced closer would not only bolster the back end of the bullpen but would also put the confidence back into the managerial staff. Having a certified closer would put ease in Gabe Kapler‘s mind entering the late innings of a game.
The Phillies are also in need of a solid number two pitcher behind Aaron Nola. Aaron proved himself an ace this year and is in the running for the NL Cy Young award. He is still young and the sky is the limit for Aaron. After Nola, the pitching staff was full of question marks. Jake Arrieta signed a three year deal right before the season started and was supposed to be the number two behind Aaron Nola. However, Arrieta had an off year and finished with a 10-11 record with a 3.96 ERA. It seemed as though the only consistent thing concerning Jake’s season was his inconsistency. He started off slow with a 3.49 ERA in April, followed that up with a 0.90 ERA in May and then had a 6.66 ERA in June. His July was outstanding and he struggled down the stretch. Aaron Nola needs help behind him at the top of this rotation and judging by his 2018 season it does not seem as though Jake Arrieta is the long term answer.
There are also needs on the offensive side of the ball for the Phillies. Besides for the mid-season acquisitions, there was not an everyday position player who batted over .300. Rhys Hoskins has proven he has power to hit the long ball and with the signing last year of slugger Carlos Santana this team has an some impressive power in the middle of the line-up. They do lack a solid lead off hitter who can hit for average and steal some bases. The long ball can not be the only thing this team can rely on to win as this team needs to learn the importance of small ball and how to manufacture runs with aggressive base running.
Most people will remember how this team finished and how they seemingly quit on Gabe Kapler but this team did have success which they can build upon. Aaron Nola is a bona fide ace and Rhys Hoskins has the power to compete for the NL home run title the next few years. Matt Klentak will have money to spend on some key free agents and Bryce Harper is even rumored to be on the Phillies radar. The decisions made by the front office this off-season will shape the future of this franchise for years to come and should stir some excitement back into a fan base starving for some October baseball.
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