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The Hat Chat

The Phillies’ Opening Day


In typical Philadelphia sports fashion, the Phillies’ 2024 season has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. Some renowned veteran players have struggled immensely, while others have risen to the occasion to keep the Phillies’ metaphoric heads above water. With a 10-8 record and the first-place Atlanta Braves having been taken over by the injury bug, the Phillies have an opportunity to make a run at the National League East title for the first time since 2011.

But before we dive too far into the 2024 Phillies, let’s take a step back and recap 2023, a season plagued with highs, lows, and everything in between.

Last October, the Phillies were one win away from advancing to the World Series for the second year in a row – not once, but twice. The Phillies’ offense scored a combined three runs in games six and seven of the National League Championship Series, and some bullpen flaws from earlier in the series came back to cost the Phillies.

After losing the NLCS by only one game, many Phillies fans expected the franchise to do what they have done in the past: spend the winter making aggressive trades and signings via free agency.

However, the Phillies went a different route, emphasizing team sustainability for years to come. They signed right-handed starter Aaron Nola, who is the longest-tenured Phillie in the organization, to a seven-year, $172 million contract. During Spring Training, Phils’ ace Zack Wheeler was granted a three-year, $126 million extension, ensuring that the Phillies’ top three starters – Nola, Wheeler, and southpaw Ranger Suarez – are under contract through the 2025 season.

Closer Craig Kimbrel and starter Michael Lorenzen both signed elsewhere after hitting the open market, but outside of adding utility man Whit Merrifield and depth starter Spencer Turnbull during the offseason, most of the Phillies’ 2023 roster remains (minus the two aforementioned pitchers).

Now, in 2024, the Phillies have shown glimpses of a World Series-caliber squad, but there are certainly issues that will need to be addressed. First and foremost, two-time National League MVP Bryce Harper has yet to heat up offensively, as he has just 14 hits in 73 plate appearances and has struck out 23.2% of the time in 2024.

The Phillies’ lone 2023 all-star, Nick Castellanos, has also struggled in 2024, sporting a .169 batting average and .408 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) in 65 at-bats. Despite these shortcomings, Castellanos delivered for the Phillies on Saturday by hitting a walk-off single against the Pittsburgh Pirates, putting the Phillies back above the .500 mark. 

On the positive side, the Phillies’ pitching–as expected–has excelled so far this season. Zack Wheeler has a 3.00 ERA (earned run average) and 30 punch-outs in three starts so far. Spencer Turnbull, who has gotten an opportunity to start in lieu of Taijuan Walker’s injury, has a 1.80 ERA, 16 strikeouts and a 0.93 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) through three starts. Even Ranger Suarez, who struggled more than expected at times in 2023, has been solid in 2024, recently throwing six scoreless innings against the Pirates and a complete game shutout against the Rockies on Tuesday. Out of the bullpen, Jeff Hoffman, Yunior Marte, Gregory Soto, and Matt Strahm are all boasting sub-three ERAs.

And even though there have been some hiccups since the season’s inception, with all new uniforms, scoreboards, merchandise and food options, the vibes are better than ever at Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Phillies.

“The environment before [Friday’s] game was calm,” said freshman Elijah Ingram, who was in attendance for the debut game for the Phillies’ new City Connect jerseys, featuring a midnight blue gradient, the Liberty Bell, and “PHILLY” across the front. “The environment during the game was amazing… When the bases were loaded and [Brandon] Marsh was up, the crowd got really loud… and I actually think the City Connects are pretty cool. They work and look good on the field.”

With 13 games in 14 days remaining in April, the Phillies have a golden opportunity to take control of the NL East in what looks to be one of the easiest months in their rigorous schedule.

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About the Contributor
Colin Daly
Colin Daly, Co-Editor
Grade: Sophomore What is a favorite hobby of yours: Some of my hobbies include watching and playing baseball, writing, and hanging out with my friends. What you enjoy/look forward to with The Hat Chat: Getting to cover Hatters sports and interviewing students and teachers. Where do you want to go to college?: Boston University Fun facts: I own about 18,000 sports cards and I love trying different Chili recipes.  

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