Each start to a new season serves as a clean slate for each team, and 2017 will mark the first time that we see a Phillies team without any players from the 2008 World Series team. Though this may upset some, the open roster spots will give players such as Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp to play on a full-time basis for the first time in their careers. Both Rupp and Joseph have gotten a taste of what it is like, but next season, we will see them at their full potential. Though nothing is ever guaranteed, one thing is for sure, both Rupp and Joseph have impressed and developed quite well.
In addition, we can expect to see many debuts of prospects that have been under the Phillies radar for quite awhile now, including J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfar, Roman Quinn and more.
In regards to pitching, the beginning of the season showed us a glimpse of the potential of the pitching staff. Aaron Nola was practically unhittable in the first two months, but recent his elbow injury forced him into slump, which ultimately led to him being placed on the IR. Though his 2016 season ended on a rather sour note, I am confident that Nola will return even stronger in 2017 season, seeking redemption.
After a full major league season, pitchers like Vincent Velasquez, Jeremy Hellickson, Jake Thompson and Jerad Eickhoff should prove to be much more efficient in 2017. Like Nola, we have seen each of these young and inexperienced pitchers struggle during the season, which will serve as a learning curve that will only help the staff moving forward.
In 2016, the Phillies started off very strong, only to lose the momentum along the way. However, with an entirely new, young and revamped squad of players set to take the field next season, we can expect the Phillies to compete for an even longer stretch next season. How long the Phillies are able to compete next season will ultimately determine whether or not they are contenders for one of two wild card spots.
Photo: Arturo Pardavila III (via: Flickr)