The Phillies opened the 2021 Grapefruit League season on Sunday as the baseball world tries to return to some sort of normalcy this season. Some fans were allowed to enter Joker Merchant stadium in Lakeland, FL, home of the Detroit Tigers, as the Phillies lost 10-2 in the Spring Training opener.

So with a new season, we have a new set of thoughts for the Phillies, a team that hasn't been in the postseason since the 2012 season.

Here are 10 predictions for the 2021 Phillies, we'll check back in on in October.

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1. Bryce Harper will have his best season with the Phillies. The Phillies right fielder is entering his third season in Philadelphia, hitting .262 with 48 home runs, 147 RBI in 215 games in red pinstripes. His debut season with the Phils saw him smack 35 homers, second best of his career, but don't be surprised if this season Harper send 40 or more balls over the fence.  With J.T. Realmuto and Alec Bohm hitting around him in the lineup, Harper is primed for a big year in 2021.

2. Alec Bohm will show he is the real deal.  After hitting .338 with four homers and 23 RBI in 44 games last season, don't be surprised to see more power from the 24-year old third baseman. Bohm showed tremendous poise at the plate for a young player and while his batting average might take a dip, his power numbers should rise.  I'm expecting a .288 with 27 home runs and 87 RBI type of line this season.

3, Scott Kingery will have a bounce-back year and get plenty of playing time all over the diamond. Kingery played primarily at second base last season, but this year will be in the role of a super-utility man.  He will have a chance to earn the center field job, but that will likely end up being a platoon.  However, Kingery will get plenty of time spelling guys at second, third and short, while filling in in center when needed. Expect a .280 with 17 homers, 65 RBI and 15 stolen base type of year.

4. The bullpen will be significantly better in 2021 than this historically bad pen of the 2020 season. Relief pitchers are always unpredictable, but they have added some new arms which should help, and there is no possible way the group can go through another season like 2020.  Archie Bradley, Hector Neris and Brandon Kintzler will battle for the closing role with Tony Watson and Sam Coonrod giving the teams some new veteran arms this season.  All of those arms give the bullpen more depth, but none of them will be the most dependable pitcher in the bullpen.

5. The best arm in the bullpen will be Connor Brogdon.  The 26-year old right-hander settled into his role during the 2020 season, with 17 strikeouts in 11.1 innings pitched. His 0.88 WHIP is very impressive and if he can follow that up, he could turn into a valuable part of the Phillies reconstructed bullpen.

6. Adam Haseley and Scott Kingery might be the center fielders now, but Odubel Herrera will replace one or both of them by the All-Star break.  Herrera is a non-roster invitee, but the former all-star might be able to win the job.  While the team might not want to hand it to him, if he makes the 25-man roster, and Haseley, Kingery or Roman Quinn struggle, manager Joe Girardi can turn to Herrera.

7. Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin will be the top pitching threesome in the N.L. East.  Wheeler was excellent last season and I expect Nola to have a big season.  Eflin is the wold card, but the feeling here is that he will have a solid year. The division is filled with solid pitching which includes the Braves trio of Ian Anderson, Charlie Morton and Max Fried.  The Mets feature Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco and Marcus Stroman.  Washington has Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. Miami has a young core with Sixto Sanchez, Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez. However it will be the Phillies trio that will have the best year.

8. Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura, Vince Velasquez or Andrew McCutchen will be traded. Dave Dombrowski will be looking to make improvements, and to do so, one of these veteran players will be moved to make it happen.  The Phillies have a battle for the No. 4 and 5 spot in the rotation, and I wouldn't expect the current in-house options to fill the role the way he wants.  So don't be surprised if one of these names are moved to get some more pitching.

9. Spencer Howard won't win a spot in the pitching rotation, but he will be in the rotation by the end of the season.  Howard was underwhelming last season when given the opportunity, but I think he still have the talent to help this rotation out.  So while I think the Phillies will open the season with him in the minors, I think Howard will find his way back in the rotation and show why he is rated as their top prospect.

10. The Phillies bullpen will be better, the pitching will be solid and their offense can score runs, but they will come up just short in making the playoffs again this year.  Expect a 87-75 season filled with a lot of fun, but missing the playoffs the 10 straight season.

Phillies Major Award Winners Since 1980


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