The Philadelphia Phillies 2016 MLB season is almost over. What should the focus be for the franchise going into the 2017?
I started writing for The Philly Sports Cave at the beginning of the Philadelphia Phillies season. Now, there is less than a week to go. Only a few more days of Ryan Howard in a Phillies jersey. With big changes coming for the team, what should the focus be on for the 2017 season?
Ryan Howard has been with the club since 2004. He is the last original Phillie from the 2008 World Series team, a face of the franchise. Once Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley were traded, Howard stepped up and became not only a leader but a mentor. He not only was a mentor to first baseman Tommy Joseph but he became someone for other rookies to go to and get advice on how to succeed in the big leagues. Now someone new has to fill his shoes. Will it be Joseph, catcher Cameron Rupp or infielder Maikel Franco? We will have to wait until next season to see.
Focus on Starting Pitching
The Philadelphia Phillies have the 14th highest ERA out of 34 teams for starting pitching with 4.39. They ranked eighth for the most losses at 61. I think for 2017 the Phillies need to keep Vince Velasquez healthy, make sure Alec Asher stays clean, and look for an improvement by Jerad Eickhoff and Jeremy Hellickson.
Get Franco and Herrera Back on Track
Franco and outfielder Odubel Herrera have been known as being a big chunk of the Philadelphia Phillies offense. Each of them started the season strong with a combined 85 RBI and 28 home runs before the All-Star break. Post All-Star their numbers have decreased significantly with 40 RBI and just 12 homeruns. Sure, relying on just two players for offense isn’t realistic as baseball is a team sport but Franco and Herrera do play a significant role. For 2017 they have to figure out how to be those RBI hitters they once were.
More Phillies: What’s Up With Odubel Herrera?
The 2016 season was fun to watch with no expectations going in. With big changes to come and players leaving during the offseason, it will be even more exciting to see what 2017 has in store.