Phillies Opening Day is here and it's time to make some predictions.
We asked a handful of our Phillies folks their thoughts on these five particular questions headed into a season of high expectations.
Participating are Phillies writer Corey Seidman, pre/postgame live host Michael Barkann, analysts Ricky Bottalico and Ben Davis, and producers Sean Kane and Casey Feeney.
1. How many regular-season games will the Phillies win?
Bottalico: 88, putting them in contention for the East. The bullpen will be the key, bouncing back from an atrocious year in '21. Offense will be a softball team and not a mirage. Phillies brought in two guys that can mash fastballs, which is a huge improvement from 2021.
Davis and Barkann and Kane: 90.
That will be good enough to end their 10-year postseason drought. The Phillies' offense will be one of the best in baseball. With Zack Wheeler and Ranger Suarez rounding into form in the final week of spring training, I expect their rotation to be rock solid. - Kane
Feeney: 91 -- the offense should be very good. I also expect the Braves to take a half-step back this season off of a title and without Freddie Freeman.
Seidman: We're all right here in the same range. I'll go one higher at 92, accounting for the fact that I expect them to beat up on bad teams more than they did a season ago.
2. Who will be the Phillies' RBI leader?
Seidman: Nick Castellanos' career-high is 101 and I just don't see how that's still his career-high after 2022 (barring injury). He's batting behind the reigning MVP who has a .426 OBP the last two seasons. Kyle Schwarber and Jean Segura will also set the table. I see Castellanos leading the team with 113.
Bottalico: Castellanos, who will hit .300 or above. He has a great idea of the zone and doesn't miss mistakes.
Davis: Castellanos for me.
Feeney: Castellanos is the pick with a career-best 109 RBI.
Kane: I was tempted to go with Rhys Hoskins here -- I think he's going to have a career year batting fifth or sixth -- but the smart pick is Castellanos, who I expect to capitalize on countless RBI opportunities and drive in 110 runs.
3. How many Phillies pitchers will make at least 30 starts?
Bottalico: Two. I think Nola has a chance to make 30 starts again, as well as Wheeler if he's fully healthy from the get-go.
Davis and Barkann: One.
Kane: I'll say three -- Nola, Zach Eflin and Kyle Gibson. I expect the Phillies to be extra cautious with Wheeler and Suarez given their workloads last season and later than normal ramp-ups this spring.
Seidman: I'm going with the same three, Kaner -- Nola, Eflin and Gibson. Contract year for Eflin and he really wants to make a full season's worth of starts.
Feeney: Wheeler and Nola both reached this mark last season for the Phillies, so let's go with two again in 2022. The bigger question than durability for this rotation will be effectiveness.
4. Which of the young position players (Bryson Stott, Alec Bohm, Mickey Moniak, Matt Vierling) will make the biggest impact in 2022?
Feeney: There are several players on this Phillies roster who can swing them from good to great depending upon their performance in 2022. I'd put Stott at the top of that list. He'll have his tough stretches, but he looks the part and has a pretty important MVP in his corner.
Davis: Vierling, who will have plenty of opportunities.
Kane: My initial answer was Moniak until the news broke Thursday that he has a fracture in his right hand and will miss six weeks. That’s really tough news for the Phillies and Moniak considering how well he played during spring training. I'll also go with Vierling. I expect him to make the most of his opportunity to play every day in the beginning of the season. He’s a good athlete who should hold his own defensively. He also consistently hits the ball hard and should do some damage in the bottom of the Phillies lineup.
Seidman: Stott looks and acts like a big-leaguer already. Why couldn't he hit like .272/.340/.420 as a rookie with some doubles and clutch knocks along the way?
5. Will any Phillies regulars hit .300 or better?
Barkann: Harper and Segura.
Seidman: The Phillies would take that combo. Put me down for Harper at .305 and Castellanos at .301, with Segura spending much of the year between .290 and .310 but ending up around .288.
Feeney: Since he's played for so long already, it can be easy to forget that Harper is in the heart of his prime right now, the time where his physical tools are perfectly aligned with his understanding of the game. Not only do I think he'll hit over .300, I think he will post his best overall statistical season since his 2015 MVP campaign.
Kane: Harper and Castellanos each hit .309 last season and I expect both to be right around that mark again in 2022.
Davis: Harper and Castellanos for me, too.
Non-Phillies: How many regular-season starts does Jacob deGrom make in 2022?
Bottalico: He will make 18 starts for the Mets, leaving a big hole in the Big Apple while he's out.
Seidman: Shut down four weeks, probably doesn't make his season debut until late-May at the earliest with this recent string of arm problems, plans to opt out and become a free agent after the year ... I'll say 12.
Kane: I'll take the optimistic view for the Mets and deGrom and say 18. He'll miss the first two months of the season before coming back and staying relatively healthy the rest of the way. The Mets are due for some good injury luck on the pitching front at some point.
Feeney: With free agency potentially on the horizon following this season, I'd expect deGrom to be extra cautious in his rehab. Let's say he's back after the All-Star break and makes 11 starts.