Four months later, opening day is here. The Phillies begin their 60-game sprint tonight at home against the Miami Marlins.
Before first pitch, let's put some predictions on paper.
Phillies insider Jim Salisbury: Phillies take two of three from Tampa Bay on the final weekend of the season to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Spencer Howard notches a key win in the series to lock up the NL Rookie of the Year award.
Phillies writer/producer Corey Seidman: I said here Segura would hit .338 so I can't use that one again. Hmmm... you know, I think Bryce Harper is going to lead the National League in home runs with 14 to 16. Road games at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, 13 games against the lowly Marlins and Orioles, 30 games at Citizens Bank Park.
I also think the Nationals are going to be pretty bad, like 27-33. Great starting pitching, but has anyone looked at that lineup? Blah City.
Phillies Pre and Postgame Live host Michael Barkann: The Phillies will extend J.T. Realmuto during the season rather than let him get to free agency.
Phillies Field Reporter Gregg Murphy: Jean Segura hits .325 this season and Jay Bruce approaches 15 bombs.
Phillies Pre and Postgame Live analyst Ricky Bottalico: Bryce Harper will win MVP, book it.
Phillies producer Casey Feeney: The best Phillies hitter this season in the non-Bryce Harper category will be Didi Gregorius. After coming back from Tommy John surgery around the midpoint of last season, Gregorius provided some pop for the Yankees. But he failed to round fully into the form of the previous two seasons.
The 30-year old shortstop is now on a one-year deal with Phillies as he hopes to parlay success this season into a lucrative long-term contract somewhere. The hunch here is that he does it with numbers in the .280 BA, 13 HR, 38 RBI range.
Phillies Pre and Postgame Live producer Sean Kane: The Phillies will win 15 of their first 20 games and establish themselves as the frontrunner in the NL East a third of the way through this 60-game season. Joe Girardi will have this team ready to play, and while the overall schedule is tough, it’s actually pretty favorable over the first three weeks. I have them sweeping the Marlins to start the season, then splitting four straight games with the Yankees. So that’s a 5-2 record out of the gate.
The Blue Jays are in disarray, unable to play in their home city of Toronto. Wherever that series is played, I like the Phillies to win 2 of 3. I’m tempted to say they’ll sweep the Marlins in Miami but that’s generally easier said than done for the Phillies. They’ll take 2 of 3 in that series to improve to 9-4 through their first 13 games.
Then it’s four straight against the Braves at home. The Phillies have played Atlanta well in recent years, particularly at Citizens Bank Park. They’ll win 3 of 4 in that series before sweeping the lowly Orioles at home. It all adds up to a 15-5 record and first place in the division on August 13.
The schedule gets much tougher over the final 40 games. Will the Phillies make it to the finish line in first place? Something tells me they will.