It is Opening Day in the City of Brotherly Love which always seems ironic for a city that will boo their own players for the slightest infractions. The Nationals play the Phillies this weekend in a three-game series with Max Scherzer getting the start, and you can expect Jayson Werth will receive his normal jeers from the crowd.
This is a new-look Phillies team as they have really turned over their roster, and there is no longer any of the heroes from the World Series team that Jayson Werth played for in 2008 or even their last playoff team from the 2011 season. Ryan Howard was the last remaining player, and he was released after the season. Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley have been gone for a while now. Speaking of booing, Ryan Howard heard the boos often in 2016, and he has moved on to the Braves organization on a Minor League deal as was reported yesterday. According to Statistica.com, the Phillies are tied for the 7th youngest team in MLB, and they probably got more notoriety for Pete Mackanin‘s final roster by adding 27-year-old Brock Stassi who cried after being told he made his first MLB roster. You will recognize several players from last year’s roster, and some of the newbies who added the aare Howie Kendrick, Daniel Nava, Clay Buckholz, Pat Neshek and Joaquin Benoit. Those are the players that really boosted the Phillies average age and nudged up the payroll.
If the Phillies did not have to pay-off Ryan Howard’s $10 million or Matt Harrison‘s $13.2 million, the Phillies outlay for payroll would be close to $79 million this year. The Phillies Comcast deal is worth $2.5 billion over 25 years with an average of $100 million a year and their gate receipts estimated by Forbes was $72 million which is almost the equivalent of their payroll. Clearly the Phillies have money to spend. My sleeper pick for the biggest 2018 free agent haul is the Phillies since they are so far below the luxury tax threshold they could add 3 players making $30 million each and still be below their payroll from 2 years ago.
The Nationals know all about managing payrolls and youthful teams. This 2017 Nationals team is a mix of some young and old. The old-school Nats need to show up on offense. In three games, only Matt Wieters has been credited with a productive out, and Tanner Roark has the lone sacrifice. The Nationals have to be more selfless in moving over runners, and driving in runs other than from the home run which they have relied on too much so far.
Here is the Nationals batting stats against Vince Velasquez which is basically one games worth of data:
Washington Nationals at the Philadelphia Phillies
Stadium: Citizens Bank Ballpark, Philadelphia, PA
1st Pitch: 3:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN, NBC10, Telemundo, MLB.TV
Line-ups (subject to change without notice):
- Trea Turner SS
- Adam Eaton CF
- Bryce Harper RF
- Daniel Murphy 2B
- Ryan Zimmerman 1B
- Jayson Werth LF
- Anthony Rendon 3B
- Matt Wieters C
- Max Scherzer RHP