We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag.  We take your Phillies questions and every Tuesday afternoon discuss them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill.  Send your questions any time on Twitter to @FrankKlose and tune in Tuesday afternoon to hear our response.

Is the pitching staff as a whole underrated? Feel like if healthy this staff could really help the team down the road.
~Dave

I think this is the big question for this 2022 Phillies team.  I think that anchored with a starting rotation of Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Kyle Gibson, Ranger Suárez and Zach Eflin, they can hang with anybody.  But the problem is: question marks remain in the starting rotation, and in the bullpen.

Wheeler has yet to throw a Spring Training inning.  Ditto Suárez.   Will either be able to take the mound for the Phillies the first couple weeks?  That is going to be key.

The good news from the rotation of question marks is that Eflin looked good in his return to the mound.  After having knee surgery it looked as if Eflin might not start until May.  He very well could be to go to pitch in the opening series against Oakland.

The bullpen has some question marks and some surprises.  I do believe that the combination of Corey Knebel, Brad Hand, and Jeurys Familia is better than the combination of Ian Kennedy, Hector Neris, and Archie Bradley.  Seranthony Dominguez looks really promising so far.

Jose Alvarado (the lefty reliever, not the point guard) returns to the bullpen.  So does Connor Brogdon, with more experience.

Those are six spots.  Sam Coonrod is likely headed to the injured list to start the season.   The other likely reliever, Bailey Falter, probably has to start games for a while.  Same is true for Cristopher Sanchez, who might have been in the bullpen.

So the Phillies are probably looking at newcomers Nick Nelson and Ryan Sherriff to fill these last two spots.  There will also be two additional spots to start the season to atone for the short Spring Training.

If the Phillies were at full strength, I would feel better about what's there.  The setbacks in the rotation become setbacks in the bullpen.  But other teams have this issue, too.  Hopefully the bats will help overcome them.

 

Can they package Aaron Nola and Alec Bohm to A's for Frankie Manaea or Sean Montas? Nola will never change as a big game pitcher. He also fades w every September.
~Julian

I think the Phillies would love to have either Frankie Manaea or Sean Montas.  But so would many other teams.  And I think the Athletics are open to trading one, but not both.  Certainly with the aforementioned rotation challenges, the Phillies could use another arm.  But I do not see Nola being moved.

Nola is entering the last guaranteed year of his contract, with an option year available for 2023.  That means Nola has just two years of control left.  These come at decent (albeit better than a lot of others) salary levels.

The Athletics are not really in the market for short-term contracts, or contracts that require they take on money.

The Athletics would want the likes of Mick Abel or Andrew Painter from the Phillies, their consecutive first round picks that they dream will anchor a starting rotation someday.  The Phillies will not want to trade them.  Alec Bohm I think they are open to moving.

I am not sure the Phillies have what the Athletics want for either player.  I am sure, however, that if they could land either Manaea or Montas, they would love to.

Do you think the front office will look to get any extensions done mid-season? If so, who would you think they are looking at?
~Paul

I am not sure that contract extensions are a real concern on the Phillies right now.  The big names that I think the Phillies will have to address eventually are Zach Eflin and Rhys Hoskins.   Both players are coming upon the end of their rookie contracts and the Phillies will need to decide where to go forward from here.

Hoskins has one more arbitration year remaining after this one.  So after 2023, Hoskins will be a free agent.  There is much Hoskins needs to still prove.

But due to injury and the like, Hoskins likely still needs to demonstrate his value to a team long-term.  Can he play first base on a regular basis?  Or is he simply a designated hitter?  That matters to what he gets paid.

As for Eflin, he will be a free agent after the 2022 season.  Due to a collection of injuries and the like, Eflin has yet to really show what he can be for a full season.  The right knee surgery from last year seems to be healing in time for Opening day.

Since making debut with the Phillies, Eflin has been placed on the disabled/injured list a combined nine times.

What kind of contract would Eflin warrant?  That's really hard to tell.  I think the Phillies will need to see how healthy he is this season.  I am sure if he can be healthy they'd be interested in bringing him back.  But it's been tough to keep him healthy for an extended period of time thus far in his career.