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3 PHILLIES

Author:

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE PHILLIES

Sizing up this team is like looking at a puzzle and seeing promising pieces but wondering how they all fit together.... There's good young talent here, with guys like Rhys Hoskins.Former managers Ryne Sandberg and Pete Mackanin got all their gray hairs from watching Maikel Franco and Odúbel Herrera. A few years ago we were putting Franco in the category of Arenado, Bryant and Machado at third base. Now he's not even in the same universe. His body isn't in as good shape as when he first came up, and he's lost all patience at the plate. Herrera is so streaky—one night he gives away four at bats, the next he goes 4 for 4. Those two guys are key, but I'm losing hope.... Aaron Nola is on the cusp of becoming an elite starter. After that, they're in trouble. Vince Velasquez is the wild card. If he's healthy, he's a top-of-the-rotation guy, but based on his track record, there's no reason to believe he can make it through the season. Mark Leiter Jr. reminds me of his dad—he knows how to pitch, and as bad as these guys are, he'll pitch his way into the rotation this year.... Gabe Kapler is progressive, and it's a nicer, friendlier vibe: There's dancing in the clubhouse, and the bench looks like a college football sideline. It could all work with a young team.

THE PAYOFF PITCH

The signing of Jake Arrieta on March 12 was a boost for a starting rotation that looked like the Phillies' weak link when camps opened. With the 32-year-old righthander now the nominal No. 1, it allows Aaron Nola, 24, to continue his development without that high-pressure label. Nola, the seventh pick in the 2014 draft, took a big step forward last season by finding an extra tick on his four-seam fastball (from 91--92 mph to almost 93). He also used that more, and his two-seamer less. Nola's curve, though, is his calling card: He throws it 30% of the time, and the league hit .172 off it last year. Following some early-season bumps Nola had a 3.18 ERA and a 28% strikeout rate after June 1. He's as good a bet as any player to be the Phillies' All-Star this year.

OVER / UNDER

75.5

The Phillies are a chic playoff pick, but their rotation is thin, and the offense, even with additions Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford, still has holes.

THE LINEUP

1. SECOND BASE

César Hernández

.351 OBP/8 HR/16 SB

2. FIRST BASE

Carlos Santana

.371 OBP/27 HR/6 SB

FANTASY BREAKOUT

3. THIRD BASE

Maikel Franco

.265 BA/.474 SLG/25 HR

He's fallen short of expectations but makes a ton of contact, has hit 24 homers two straight years and is still just 25.

4. CENTERFIELD

Odúbel Herrera

.274 BA/15 HR/15 SB

5. LEFTFIELD

Rhys Hoskins

.527 SLG/36 HR/5 SB

6. RIGHTFIELD

Nick Williams

.252 BA/17 HR/6 SB

7. SHORTSTOP

J.P. Crawford

.238 BA/11 HR/7 SB

8. CATCHER

Jorge Alfaro

.232 BA/.385 SLG/11 HR

THE STAFF

1. RH STARTER

Jake Arrieta

10 W/4.13 ERA/1.29 WHP

2. RH STARTER

Aaron Nola

11 W/3.76 ERA/1.21 WHP

3. RH STARTER

Jerad Eickhoff

8 W/4.94 ERA/1.37 WHP

4. RH STARTER

Vince Velasquez

6 W/4.67 ERA/1.37 WHP

CLOSER

Héctor Neris

21 SV/4.15 ERA/10.1 K9

THE SKIPPER

Gabe Kapler