Phillies a Lock to Get Out of the NL East Basement in 2018

Mark Lathrop

Saturday, February 24, 2018 9:40 PM UTC

Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 9:40 PM UTC

The Philadelphia Phillies struggled mightily in 2017; however, with the Marlins tanking in their division they are likely not to finish in the basement of the NL East in 2018. Our MLB handicapper, Mark Lathrop, breaks down the important players on their roster.

We will be breaking down each division team by team as we approach the 2018 MLB season to identify futures value and upcoming betting trends. Today we will take a look at the Philadelphia Phillies out of the NL East. The Phillies sank well below their 73.5-win total mark in 2017 with a 66-win campaign. With some perceived improvements in 2018 the market has adjusted somewhat, with a 75.5-win total set at Bovada to cash Over futures wagers.

Pitching Staff:

The Phillies have a clear #1 in their rotation with 24-year old righty, Aaron Nola. Nola put up the best year in his career in 2017, accruing a 3.27 FIP and 4.3 WAR over 168 IP. He isn’t projected to take a step back in 2018, and at just 24, there really isn’t a reason to believe he won’t get better either. I don’t know if the Phillies have a #2, but maybe a collection of #4 candidates for the rest of their rotation in Nick Pivetta, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez. Eickhoff and Velasquez have been dealing with offseason injury fixes, and Pivetta was a favorite ‘bet-against’ pitcher for me in 2017. Pat Neshek is the most effective arm in the bullpen, but is not the closer, as that role looks to be falling on the right shoulder of Hector Neris and his career 10.54 K/9 rate.

Lineup:

August 2017 callup, Rhys Hoskins, exploded on the scene with 11 home runs in his first month of MLB action. He cooled off in September with an increase in strikeouts, but also took more walks as a counter-adjustment, especially against lefties. Hoskins is projected to put up 3.4 WAR in 2018 with a home run count in the mid-30’s. At just 24 years old, the Phillies appear to have a young slugger worth building around. He doesn’t play good defense though and may be relegated to first base if he can’t hold his own in left field. The big free agent acquisition of the winter for the Phillies also plays first base and poor defense in Carlos Santana. He’s been a solid contributor for Cleveland since 2011, and is expected to provide above average offense in the Phillies lineup for the next 3 years. The only other above average candidate is third baseman, Maikel Franco, who after putting up a 129 wRC+ half-season in 2015 followed it up with two 91 and 76 wRC+ seasons, respectively. He was worth -0.5 WAR last year, but is projected to regress back to 1.8 WAR in 2018.

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All eyes on the new guy. 👀 pic.twitter.com/MDlYN70Lgn

— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) February 24, 2018
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Wild Cards and Betting Trends:

While the Phillies added 2.5 WAR in Gonzalez over the offseason, their win total target also increased by 2 for 2018. Given that they only won 66 games in 2017, I still see value on the Under side of the futures market. Their division schedule will include games with the hapless Marlins though, so at this point I will pass on a firm call to the Under.

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