A look at Opening Day: Your guide to the Phillies 2024 Season

By Ryan Wolff

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Let’s start with a brief overview of all things Phillies.

The Philadelphia Phillies have high hopes for their season this year after a playoff exit at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2023 ALCS. 

Although opening day was rescheduled to today, Friday, March 29, the baseball season has long been in swing, with pitchers and catchers having reported to Clearwater, FL, for spring training as early as February 14.

The Phillies 2024 season will kick off against their divisional rivals, the powerful Atlanta Braves. Last year, the Braves went 104-58 and finished first in the National League East and the Phillies went 90-72. 

Notable moves made by the Phillies include the re-signing of star pitcher Aaron Nola and signing of super-utility man Whit Merrifield.

The division: who’s our competition?

No doubt the Phillies will have tough competition in the NL East with the young, star-studded Braves roster: Ronald Acuña Jr. (OF), Matt Olson (1B), Austin Riley (3B), Ozzie Albies (2B), and pitcher Spencer Strider are perennial contenders for the MVP or Cy Young Awards. 

The New York Mets, a well-known divisional rival, may be surprise contenders, but their streak of disappointing seasons continued last year despite having the highest payroll of any MLB team in history. So far, the Mets under the ownership of 1978 Wharton graduate, Steven A. Cohen, have achieved periodic successes, but have overall fallen short of expectations.

The Miami Marlins finished only six games behind the Phillies last season. However, the Marlins will likely not have Sandy Alcantara, the star pitcher and 2022 National League Cy Young Award Winner in the 2024 season, because Alcantara is recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Finally, the Washington Nationals, another division rival, are not expected to be playoff contenders despite winning the World Series in 2019.

Getting ahead of ourselves, what are the offseason prospects?

The Phillies made some key offseason acquisitions to bolster their roster in what has been a promising past two years for the club. The re-signing of longtime Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola, 33, to a seven-year contract worth $172 million essentially gives the Phillies the ability to control Nola for the remainder of his career. Though Nola struggled in last year’s regular season to the tune of a 4.46 ERA, he went 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA in last year’s playoffs. 

The team also signed Whit Merrifield, 35, who has been a durable utility player for the Kansas City Royals since 2017, indicating that they envision him playing multiple positions over the next season. 

It’s not all roses for the Phillies, though, as popular first baseman Rhys Hoskins signed a 2-year, $34 million contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. Hoskins did not play for the entire 2023 season, because he tore his ACL in a spring training game. 

Keep an eye out for…

Bryce Harper, the two-time NL MVP, will likely be moving to first base from right field. Harper began playing first base full-time last season when he returned from Tommy John surgery. The 2021 MVP discussed this position change with the Phillies President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, with the two weighing the risk of Harper playing outfield with the potential of re-injuring his arm.

Star pitcher and former New York Met, Zack Wheeler’s 5-year, $188 million contract will culminate after the 2024 season. The 33-year-old signed a 3-year, $126 million extension in early March, making him a Phillie for the foreseeable future. The contract’s average annual value of $42 million also puts Wheeler in the financially elite tier of pitchers. With this deal, the Phillies have cemented a strong pitching rotation for years to come.

During four years in Philadelphia, Wheeler pitched to the tune of a stellar 3.06 ERA (Earned Runs Allowed) and an even better playoff ERA of 2.42. Earned runs measure how many runs a pitcher surrenders per nine innings while excluding runs scored because of errors. Therefore, a lower ERA is considered better. Additionally, he was the runner-up for the 2021 Cy Young award, and he has pitched the fourth-most innings of any major league pitcher in the past four years––629 ⅓. Only Sandy Alcantara, Gerrit Cole, and his teammate Aaron Nola have pitched more.

The Phillies have also signed manager Rob Thomson to a one-year extension, meaning his contract will last through the 2025 season. Thomson replaced Joe Girardi in June of 2022.

Ryan Wolff is a sophomore in the College studying Health and Societies and History from New York, NY. Ryan is also the Sports Editor for The Pennsylvania Post, His email is rywolff@sas.upenn.edu.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *