Philadelphia Phillies: Can History Repeat Itself?


Chase Fisher

Game 4 of the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves

The Philadelphia Phillies welcome in a 2023 season, as they look to repeat the historical run they made last year. For the past 11 years, Phillies baseball has been stuck in mediocrity as they held onto the second-longest playoff drought in the major leagues. That was all bound to change, as the Phillies went on one of the most surprising runs in franchise history.

The 2022 season opened up with a bang, as newly signed Phillie, Kyle Schwarber led off the year with a solo home run to begin a new chapter of his career in Philadelphia. After winning three of the first four games in convincing fashion, the Phillies got all their fans filled with the hope of what could be a year to remember. Unfortunately, that hope did not last long, as the Phillies lost 28 of their next 46 games and fell to a rough 21-29 record, sitting in third place in the National League East with their playoff hopes looking slim. Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations for the Phillies, decided enough was enough and fired manager Joe Girardi. There was too much talent on this team to just give up on the year, let it ride out, and then fire Girardi at the end of the season. The Phillies needed a new voice in the clubhouse and Rob Thomson was that guy. After Rob Thomson was promoted to manager, the Phillies went on an eight-game win streak, giving the fans a glimpse of hope.

As most Phillies fans know, that hope doesn’t last long. On June 25, Bryce Harper took a 97 mph fastball straight to the hand, fracturing his thumb. The Phillies and the city of Philadelphia all held their breaths as they saw their season flash before their eyes. When the news broke out about Bryce Harper missing a minimum of two months, the Phillies responded in the best way possible, beating the San Diego Padres eight to five the very next day. Despite losing their superstar right fielder, the Phillies wound up playing their best all year, winning 30 out of their next 52 games and solidifying themselves as contenders for a playoff spot.

The trade deadline arrived and with the Phillies as contenders for a playoff spot, Dave Dombrowski was certain to make multiple moves to increase the Phillies’ playoff chances. After starting off the deadline quiet, Dombrowski rattled off two quick moves, trading top catching prospect Logan O’Hoppe to the Los Angeles Angels for young center fielder Brandon Marsh and trading promising young pitcher Ben Brown for veteran relief pitcher David Robertson. By completing these two moves, the Phillies could now release Odubel Herrera and Jeruys Familia, two of the players holding the team back. After making these moves, the Phillies dropped an 18-11 record in the month of August and looked like a near lock to make the playoffs with Bryce Harper returning shortly.

Unfortunately, what every Phillies fan was afraid of happening, happened… a Phillies September collapse. Although the Phillies did not fall out of a playoff spot, the Milwaukee Brewers came close and the Phillies were in danger of dropping out of the sixth seed with around a week left in the season. The Phillies went to Chicago to face the Cubs and got swept, and then went to Washington with their playoff hopes slimming. Needing to string it together and win this series against the Nationals, the Phillies won three out of four games and brought themselves one win away from a playoff berth. With the chance to go to the playoffs for the first time in 11 years, Phillies co-ace Aaron Nola took the mound against the best team in the league: the Houston Astros. Nola would wind up bringing a perfect game into the seventh inning and led the Phillies to a 3-0 win.

The Phillies faced off against the St. Louis Cardinals in the wildcard series of the MLB playoffs. After a late-inning scare in game one, the Phillies came from behind to beat the Cardinals and would win game two behind an incredible outing from Aaron Nola. Winning this series guaranteed a home playoff game, something Philadelphia fans had been waiting for, for over a decade. The Phillies now found themselves as a huge underdog facing the National League East division winner, The Atlanta Braves. The Phillies (+175 on the moneyline), went to Atlanta and handled business, winning game one in a tight 7-6 game, where the Phillies scored two quick runs in the first inning to take control of the game. Atlanta would take game two, but they were not ready for what was coming for them in Philadelphia.

Citizens Bank Park was rocking as the Phillies put Aaron Nola on the mound to control a dangerous Atlanta Braves lineup. Nola put together another ace outing as the Phillies rode their fans to a big game-three win. The Phillies would then close out the series against Atlanta the next day in a blowout. The Phillies would ride all that momentum to easily handle the San Diego Padres in the next series and send themselves to a World Series for the first time in 13 years, against the Houston Astros. The Phillies came out swinging, coming back from down five runs to win game one in Houston, and then putting up five home runs in game three in Philadelphia to take a two-to-one series lead. Sadly, the Phillies would drop the next three games and lose the World Series, but despite the gut-wrenching loss, the Phillies’ future remained bright and the fans were happy with what the team accomplished. Nick Leight, a Phillies fan and a Pennridge High School student mentioned, “The world series run brought joy to my family and it was great for the guys to gather around and get excited about.” The expectation for Philadelphia fans has now changed from trying to make the playoffs to being World Series contenders.

Entering the offseason with a new mentality, Dave Dombrowski quickly strikes, inking the best shortstop in the MLB to an 11-year, $300 million contract. Not only did Dombrowski give the Phillies a massive upgrade at shortstop, but he signed a great fourth starter in Taijuan Walker, and made many moves to strengthen the bullpen. The Phillies had arguably a top-three offseason compared to the rest of the league and did so by improving what was already one of the best teams in the league.

There is much to look forward to this upcoming season for the Phillies, but unfortunately, they will have to begin the season without superstar Bryce Harper. Harper underwent Tommy John surgery in the offseason to fix a torn UCL in his right elbow. Fortunately for the Phils, one of their strengths is the experience this team has considering they had to spend half the season without Bryce last year and went on a run without him. Tyler Sabol, a Yankees fan and Pennridge High School student mentioned that one of the biggest strengths for the Phillies is their “experience from last year’s run” and that it will serve them well this upcoming season.

Sportsbooks have the Phillies’ over/under win total at 89.5 wins for the 2023 season, and project the Phillies to finish third in the National League East. Considering the run the Phillies went on last year, paired with the new additions without losing any major players, these numbers feel disrespectful for the reigning National League champs. All in all, Philadelphia sports teams get disrespected by sportsbooks and the media year in and year out, so this is not that much of a surprise. Personally, I believe the Phillies will win 93-97 games, finishing second in the National League East, and once again winning the National League Pennant. Although the Phillies compete in what many consider the best division in baseball, the Phillies will get it done and have another year to remember.