Phillies bring power to the plate with Schwarber, Castellanos


Andrew Shinkle/

New additions Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos make the Phillies an instant contending team.

   It’s been a long time coming for the Phillies.

   For the past decade, they have been stuck in a perpetual postseason drought with no relief. In 2019, the team leveled up in a big way with face of the franchise Bryce Harper, but the team somehow fell short of even a winning record. Fans are becoming exceedingly desperate for a postseason-bound Phillies team.

   With two of their most recent signings, the MLB world has been put on notice — the Phillies aren’t messing around.

   Outfielders/designated hitters Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos both signed massive multi-year contracts in Philadelphia, taking the team’s lineup to the forefront of the National League.

   In order to make the signings happen, Phillies owner John Middleton awarded $79 million over 4 years to Schwarber, and $100 million over five years to Castellanos. For the first time in franchise history, the Phillies are above the luxury tax threshold (faux salary cap), which is listed at $230 million for the 2022 season. Middleton is showing his commitment to assembling a winning team, which is reassuring for a fanbase ready to win.

   Schwarber, who won a World Series in 2016 with the Cubs, brings a potent left-handed bat to complement Harper. Last year, between the Nationals and Red Sox, he had a career year, batting .266 with a .374 on-base percentage and a .928 OPS. He spent much of his time as a leadoff hitter, and will likely serve the same role with the Phillies this year.

   Castellanos started his career with the Tigers, and was drafted by current Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski. He’s an extra base hit machine, having led the MLB in doubles in 2019 with 58. The Phillies have lacked an all-around right-handed threat in their lineup, and Castellanos should fill that role wonderfully.

   Schwarber and Castellanos immediately make the Phillies a dangerous team. Scoring runs should not be a problem with a lineup this deep and potent.

   On the other hand, defense will be a massive liability, and a potential blockade for a deep playoff run. Both Schwarber and Castellanos are poor fielders, and will not make run prevention easy for Phillies pitching. With the addition of the DH to the National League, both players will not likely be in the field simultaneously.

   In his first plate appearance — and the Phillies’ first of the season — on Opening Day, Schwarber hit a deep home run to right field. It was an electric start to his time in Philly, and there are certainly going to be more similar moments to come. Castellanos struck out three times, but finished his day with a crucial RBI double to give the Phillies more insurance in their eventual 9-5 victory.

   However, through the Phillies’ first couple weeks of action, they were far from dominant, sitting at a 6-10 record on April 24th after a primetime matchup against the Milwaukee Brewers. They lost the game 1-0 in a pitcher’s duel, which was perhaps more influenced by home plate umpire Angel Hernandez’s inconsistent strike zone than the teams’ abilities. Schwarber struck out looking against closer Josh Hader in the 9th inning on an outside pitch, and voiced his frustration against Hernandez in a fit of rage.

   The Phillies are supposed to be an offense-first team, but the bats have scuffled a bit so far to start the season. Hitters all down the lineup haven’t had great approaches in their at-bats, and that’s concerning. However, there’s a long way to go in the 162-game season, and they should bounce back to being a top-flight offense in the National League.

   If the lineup can continually lay waste to opposing pitching, then the Phillies have a good chance of finally returning to the postseason. However, we’ve seen that the Phillies hitting is not infallible. When the lineup goes cold, the pitching and defense are more vulnerable and weak for opposing teams to exploit.

   But with a lineup as loaded as the Phillies, those days will hopefully be few and far between. Coming off an MVP award, Harper now has plenty of complementary players at his service, and the team should bash their way into the thick of the NL East division race.

   A decade after the Phillies were last relevant in the MLB, they now have their most exciting roster since those days. With the team they have put together, it’ll be exciting to see where they end up at the season’s end. The next time you visit Citizens Bank Park, get ready to see some fireworks.