Five Under the Radar X-Factors for the Phillies in 2024

Fresh off a deep postseason run for the second consecutive season, the Philadelphia Phillies will look to take the next step and bring a championship back to the City of Brotherly Love for the first time since 2008. Here are five under-the-radar players that will be critical to the Phillies’ success in 2024.

Under-the-Radar X-Factors for the Phillies in 2024

5) Seranthony Dominguez

With Craig Kimbrel heading to Baltimore, Seranthony Dominguez will be a part of a closer-by-committee for the Phillies in 2024. Dominguez had an up-and-down season in 2023, pitching to a 3.78 ERA in 57 games.

Some of his ineffectiveness was due to injury, and it will be important for him to stay healthy this year in the back end of the bullpen. If he can get back to the dominance he displayed in 2022 (3.00 ERA, 61 Ks), the Phillies will have a solid one-two punch with Dominguez and Jose Alvarado holding down the ninth inning in 2024.

4) Whit Merrifield

The Phillies recently made a late off-season move, signing Whit Merrifield to a one-year deal with a club option for 2025. Merrifield is a perfect fit for the team as he can play both infield and outfield and provide a boost on the offensive end.

Merrifield is coming off an All-Star season in 2023, and while he won’t be expected to play every day, he will be an important piece as a possible platoon with Brandon Marsh, and Johan Rojas. He also gives the Phillies potential spot starts at second base when Bryson Stott needs a day off. The Phillies think highly of Merrifield, going over the second level of the luxury tax to get him, and it will be important for him to produce with his bat when he is given the call.

3) Garrett Stubbs

While JT Realmuto has proven to be a durable catcher during the course of his career, he is also 32 years old and nearing the tail end of his career. It will be important for backup catcher Garrett Stubbs to make the most of his opportunities when Realmuto needs a day off.

Stubbs had a down season offensively in 2023 but showed an innate ability to get on base in 2022 when he posted a .350 OBP. If the Phillies want Realmuto to play at a high level for years to come, it will be important to monitor his rest in 2024. Garrett Stubbs will be the next man up and with free agency coming up for the 30-year-old, he will need to show that he belongs going forward.

2) Taijuan Walker

Despite winning 15 games in 2023, Taijuan Walker’s performance left much to be desired. He showed glimpses of dominance throughout the season, pitching to a 1.50 ERA in June and a 3.86 ERA in July. After that, however, his performance spiraled as he pitched to a 5.34 ERA in August and September.

It will be important for Walker to limit the damage early and give the Phillies five or six innings on a consistent basis. He has something to prove after being left off the postseason roster and it remains to be seen whether he will return to form. If he can, he will prove to be one of the best fourth starters in all of Major League Baseball.

1) Orion Kerkering

Orion Kerkering advanced rapidly through the Phillies ranks in 2023, starting off in Single-A and making his way all the way up to the Major League roster in September. The Phillies showed a lot of trust in him, giving him high-leverage innings in the postseason.

While Kerkering pitched very well in limited innings in the regular season, he struggled in October along with Craig Kimbrel. Kerkering is a hard thrower and has the potential to be a very good bullpen piece for the Phillies. If he can pitch well in low leverage situations, he could be a prime candidate to be the Phillies closer for years to come with Jose Alvarado and Seranthony Dominguez possibly being used in the setup role. This Phillies bullpen has the potential to be very good and it will be important for Kerkering to be a spark going forward in 2024 and beyond.

The Phillies are a very streaky team and this showed during the past two postseasons. When they are on, they are one of the best teams in baseball. When they are off, they are an easy exit and a team that is very beatable. If these five players can play well when called upon, the Phillies will be a dangerous team that has the potential to make another deep postseason run into November.

Main Image: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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