Philadelphia Phillies: 4 bold predictions for the 2019 season

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA - MARCH 09: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits in the first inning during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on March 09, 2019 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
CLEARWATER, FLORIDA - MARCH 09: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits in the first inning during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on March 09, 2019 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

How it all plays out…

The 2018-2019 offseason has provided so many thrills. Matt Klentak and Co. were able to land five former All-Stars to help bolster an 80-win team that finished in third place a season ago.

But baseball is not played on paper nor with an open checkbook; it’s played between the lines on dirt and freshly cut grass and requires a complete meshing of skill, personality, and belief among 25 players, coaching and medical staffs, and front office personnel. It requires mental toughness and a short-term memory with an ability to keep looking forward through every up and down.

Beyond pitching, fielding, and timely hitting, championship contenders are those teams that unite for the common goal.

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So what happens for the 2019 Phillies season?

Though the Phillies haven’t proven anything yet, Gabe Kapler’s squad enters the season with a target on their back. The build up of anticipation leading to Bryce Harper’s eventual signing levied the bullseye, and the NL East counterparts will be gunning for big-game trophies at the expense of the Phillies.

Can the young, relatively inexperienced squad handle the attack?

Yes…to some extent.

The NL East will be a tight battle all year. The Atlanta Braves, fresh off their division title in 2018, are a young team with a bright future. Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña Jr. are two of the best players in baseball, while Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies have tremendous upside.

The Braves don’t have a top-of-the-line ace like some of the other teams but feature a solid rotation with whom they’ve already won. As with all teams, health will always be a concern.

While the Washington Nationals obviously lost Harper to the Phillies, the team improved an already stacked rotation by adding lefty Patrick Corbin to the mix (once a Phillies free agent target), and feature a stacked offensive lineup. With the addition of Harper, the Phillies may also have become Enemy No. 1 in Washington, and this will be an interesting battle to follow all season long.

The New York Mets also feature a stacked rotation that – as evidenced last year – has the ability to stifle Phillies hitters with ease. With a more balanced offensive approach from Phillies hitters in 2019, it will be interesting to see if they’re collectively able to figure out an effective attack.

And the Miami Marlins…well, we don’t even need to go there.

Last year, no NL team won 100 games or more, and that will continue in 2019. The NL East, in particular, will be a battle. With the exception of the Marlins, all teams have improved on paper. (Yes, even the Nationals, whose acquisition of Corbin offsets the loss of Harper.)

The top three teams a year ago will battle it out for the top spot in 2019, and how the dice fall is almost a crapshoot. Health factors will likely play a significant role in deciding.

So, without further adieu, here is the absolute, positive, 100-percent guaranteed, final standings for the National League East in 2019:

  1. *Nationals: 91-71
  2. ^Phillies: 87-75
  3. Braves: 84-78
  4. Mets: 76-86
  5. Marlins: 52-110

The Nationals win the division while the Phillies claim a playoff berth via the second Wild Card spot. This means they will have to go on the road and play in the win-or-go-home contest with their backs against the wall. Unfortunately, that wall will ultimately fall on their inexperienced, yet gallant shoulders.

The Philadelphia Phillies lose to the Chicago Cubs in the one-game playoff, thus ending their 2019 journey.

But don’t fret Phillies faithful, losing ultimately provides the greatest lessons for learning. And much like the 2007 Phillies team that lost in the first round to the Colorado Rockies before going on to win the ’08 championship and return to the Fall Classic a year later, the 2020 Phillies will be motivated and ready to stake their claim.

In a few hours as Aaron Nola steps on the mound at Citizens Bank Park, that glare you see shining beyond the right field foul pole is the sun rising on a bright future. It may not set exactly as you hope this October, but take pride in knowing it will continue rising.

Next. Phillies face new level of Opening Day pressure with Bryce Harper on board. dark

In the meantime, pack your sunblock and throw on your shades. You’re gonna need it for at least 13 years.