Are the Phillies Ready to End Their Playoff Drought?
The Philadelphia Phillies’ have had one of the busier offseasons after lacking noteworthy additions the previous few years, with the addition of Carlos Santana serving as by far the biggest move by general manager Matt Klentak since he arrived in Philly in October of 2015.
While the Playoffs might still be a long-shot, Phillies pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. joined the Sports Bash on Thursday and said new manager Gabe Kapler has brought in a winning attitude and energy to the team.
“He brings a totally different attitude and energy that I personally had never been around before from a coach or manager," Leiter Jr. explained. "I think a lot of guys are really excited about - his energy brightens up the room.”
Leiter made his major league debut in 2017, making 11 starts and 16 relief appearances with a 4.96 ERA in 90 2/3 innings.
The Phillies have been a team that's been in major transition since going 81-81 in 2012. The 2017 team had a bunch of younger players not quite ready to contribute right away at the big league level, and the veteran players not really able to help the team maintain success.
One team many point out when talking about the 2018 edition of the Phillies are the 2017 Minnesota Twins, who were able to grab the American League’s second wild card berth – something this Phillies team might be able to aim for in the National League this season.
Leiter thinks with an influx of young talent to this years roster, Phillies fans should start to feel optimistic about the current roster, even after five straight losing seasons.
“I think you saw how much better we played as the season went on, just as a group," Leiter explained. "We had so many young guys just making their first attempts in the Major Leagues, and experience is a major thing in baseball."
"I thought you saw a lot of guys get comfortable towards the end of the year, and I think a lot of guys are excited by the way we finished up, and hopefully we can carry that into this season. We're all hoping to surprise people."
Leiter pointed out the rough month of May, where the team went just 6-22, but finishing the season strong with a 15-13 record in September has the team hoping to build off that month.
Leiter especially likes the Phillies’ young lineup, which will feature new first baseman Carlos Santana and 2017 breakout players Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro and J.P Crawford
Of that group, many of which Leiter played with in Lehigh Valley last season, he thinks Hoskins might have the biggest impact this season.
'He did some unbelievable things last year," Leiter said. "I really believe he is going to be a very good player for a long time, I'm excited to watch him mature into one of the games best players.'
With a good mix of young talent, the Phillies are starting to think about winning games more than development and maybe even end their playoff drought.