Now that the calendar has turned to 2018 it's clear the baseball season is inching closer, so here's a look at four significant storylines that will likely impact the Phillies in the new year.
1. The Gabe Kapler Experiment
Kapler is a baseball guy but of the new-age variety. He brings an intense personality to a clubhouse that for more than a decade was captained by mild-mannered "old-school" baseball guys. No one knows for sure if Kapler's fiery approach will work with the Phillies young roster, but it'll have to if the organization expects to shred the skin of a rebuild and contend in a weaker division.
2. The Matt Klentak Era
The Kapler signing was anything but safe, especially for a young general manager looking to make an imprint in a success-starved city like Philadelphia. It was a bold move and a signature of sorts for Klentak because Kapler's success or failure will mirror as his own. It'll also be interesting to see how Klentak tinkers with the roster as the Phillies exit the rebuilding phase and enter baseball relevancy again. We've already seen the addition of Carlos Santana via free agency, but what's the next step with the starting rotation? What will he do come the trade deadline if the Phillies are in a position to compete for a wild card spot?
3. The Emergence of Rhys Hoskins
Philadelphia loves a slugger and Hoskins fits the bill, but can he piece last year's success over a full major league season? If so, he has all the makings to be the first player in Philadelphia since Ryan Howard to command can't miss at-bats. Pitchers will inevitably learn his weak spots at the plate, so it'll be imperative for Hoskins to pivot and alter his approach. If he can do that and still mash 35 homers while driving in close to 100 runs than the Phillies offense has the potential to be quite potent.
4. The Need for Starting Pitching
There's no denying Aaron Nola is the ace of the Phillies starting rotation entering 2018, but who slots behind him remains a mystery. There are a plethora of options already on the roster, but inexperience and inconsistency are rampant issues. Time is on the Phillies side for now as Klentak can still go out and get some help via the trade market or free agency but at the very least the backend of the rotation is going to be a serious question mark.
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BY PATRICK GORDON
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