CLEARWATER, Fla. – Philadelphia Phillies fans have good reason to be hopeful for the 2017 season.
The Phillies haven’t made it to the playoffs for four consecutive years. In 2015, they played their worst season since 1972 with a 63-99 record. They continued their losing streak in 2016, but managed to make a promising eight-win improvement.
Their improvement can be attributed to several new talents. Pitcher Aaron Nola made 13 starts and had a 3.59 ERA in his first season. The team faced a major setback last year when he was benched for an elbow injury. He is expected to be healthy for 2017 and will likely be in the starting lineup.
Odubel Herrera, a center fielder, exceeded expectations in his 2015 debut and signed a five-year contract with the Phillies. No other player has signed beyond the 2017 season. Herrera will undoubtedly be instrumental in a Phillies comeback.
First baseman Tommy Joseph showed unexpected strength in the 2016 season. His defensive production was 13 percent better than the average for the league, and he ended the season as a full-time first baseman.
To help maintain their upward momentum, six impressive instructors have been selected for the team’s spring training. Former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel will work alongside Phillies alumni Larry Andersen, Brad Lidge, Mike Schmidt, Chad Durbin, and Wes Helms this spring. All but Helms and Durbin have been spring training instructors for the team before.
Pitchers and catchers begin training at Spectrum Park on Feb. 14.