Vincent Damiri ’23, Staff Writer

Last October, the Phillies took Philadelphia on a postseason run it’ll never forget. From a miraculous ninth inning save in St. Louis, upsetting the former World Series champions, and finally clinching the NL Pennant at home in the Bank, the Phillies’ 2022 playoff run had almost everything. Barring a tide turning no hitter, we could have removed the ‘almost’.

The heartbreak of being two wins away from a World Championship aside- Philadelphia had a lot to celebrate, and a lot to remember. Game one of the World Series was lauded as one of the most exciting games of the year. JT Realmuto became the first catcher in the history of October baseball to hit an inside the park home run. Bryce Harper, Alec Bohm, Brandon Marsh, Kyle Shwarber, and Rhys Hoskins made history in game three of the World Series when they hit five home runs off of Lance McCullers Jr, the first pitcher to ever give up so many home runs in one postseason outing. Rhys Hoskins bat spike home run from the Division Series officially registered as the loudest moment in Citizens Bank History, which now goes back almost twenty years. The Phillies also went undefeated at their home park until the ill fated, combined hitter of game 4 of the World Series.

Alas, October came and went and the Phillies have changed since. Spring training is under way and the Phillies have returned hungrier than ever. Not only are they more excited and ready for the big stage, they have an improved roster. Trea Turner fills a massive hole in their center infield, Taijuan Walker has been brought on to round out their rotation, and the front office went out of their way to stack the bullpen to the teeth during the off season, making what was once a terrible weakness one of their biggest strengths. Sure, we lost bench favorites in a trade for Gregory Soto with Nick Maton and Matt Vierling, but the truth is they’ll get more playing time in Detroit and it’ll be better for their careers in the long run. In exchange we got an all star lefty that throws pure fire. It was a good trade, part of a great off season. The club only has one spot that’s left ungrabbed as spring training goes forward, the final spot in their starting rotation. 

In 2022, we had Noah Syndergaard, Zach Eflin, and Bailey Falter all playing around with the idea of being the club’s fifth starter, but none of them quite performed at a level to retain the role. Eflin and Syndergaard left the organization through free agency in the off season, and the younger Falter will continue to fight for a rotation spot in March. Sadly, the absence of Eflin and Syndergaard doesn’t mean that Falter has any less competition. Christopher Sanchez, Andrew Painter, and Falter are the three biggest fighters for this spot right now.

If you’re keeping tabs on the baseball world at all right now, chances are you’ve heard Andrew Painter’s name. If not, you could be hearing it a lot soon. Andrew Painter is a 19 year old kid from Florida, who was selected in the first round of the 2021 MLB draft by the Phillies. He’s not only the top prospect in the Phillies organization, he’s the number 6 prospect in all of MLB. To put it in a few words: this kid is a big deal. He turns 20 on April 10. If Painter outperforms the rest of the people vying for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, he very well could make his first MLB start on April 4th, for a night game at Yankee Stadium. That would make him not only the first teenage pitcher to debut in over five years, but the first Phillies pitcher to debut that young since 1980, double the span of Painter’s life so far.

Those keeping tabs on this situation might be skeptical. The odds of a kid as young as Painter coming up, making the big leagues, and becoming an ace as quick as it seems Painter could are incredibly low. There’s lots of speculation that Painter is being rushed through the hype and being put on the big stage too soon. Sending kids to the big stage too soon can result in injury and career setbacks. Some never recover from these types of incidents.

All this remains to be seen for the Phillies. Obviously the heavy favorite of everyone watching is Andrew Painter for the final spot; how could he not be? It doesn’t get much more exciting than watching a talent that young debut for the first time. The potential is almost unlimited, the ceiling is certainly far from hit. On the other hand, it’s important for people to hamper their expectations in the slightest. Painter is still young and has some developing to do. For all we know, this time next month it may be clear to Rob Thompson and Dave Dombrowski that Painter simply isn’t ready to pitch at the major league level yet. Everything we know about Painter screams otherwise, but there’s just too much uncertainty at this point. If this does happen their best bet will probably be Bailey Falter in the 5 spot, as he had several great starts last season in that role. Maybe Spring Training outcomes surprise us and Christopher Sanchez snatches the role from the other two. Who knows. Tomorrow begins the thirty day countdown to opening day, so we’ll see soon enough.

Works Cited:

Slocum [Associated Press], Matt. Phillies. 24 Sept. 2021. Forbes, OpenWeb, 25
     Jan. 2022,
     ?sh=7ae2fc2c2c02. Accessed 1 Mar. 2023.