Addressing Three Key Challenges for the Phillies in 2024, Phillies, Jose Ruiz Agree To Minor League Deal…

Addressing Three Key Challenges for the Phillies in 2024, Phillies, Jose Ruiz Agree To Minor League Deal…

While the Philadelphia Phillies had a commendable performance in the 2023 season, there are specific aspects that require attention and improvement as they gear up for the 2024 campaign.

First and foremost, the Phillies need to enhance their plate discipline, a crucial area that became evident during the regular season and was particularly highlighted in the NLCS. Hitters, including notable names like Nick Castellanos, Trea Turner, and Johan Rojas, struggled with swinging at pitches outside the strike zone.

This issue, emphasized by Dave Dombrowski in his post-season press conference, persisted throughout the regular season, with Phillies hitters ranking fifth in the MLB for swinging at non-strikes. To avoid non-competitive at-bats and high strikeout rates, prioritizing discipline at the plate is imperative for a more successful postseason run.

Defensive metrics remain a persistent concern for the Phillies despite appearances of improvement in the 2023 season. While some players displayed defensive improvements, the overall numbers, including defensive runs saved and fielding percentage, still placed the team below the league average.

Notably, players like Castellanos and Alec Bohm, who showcased occasional brilliance in their defensive plays, struggled with negative defensive runs saved. The Phillies must address this issue to prevent opposing teams from capitalizing on defensive vulnerabilities and creating challenges for the team’s overall record.

A third area of concern is the Phillies’ ability to hold runners on base, a weakness that, in part, can be attributed to recent MLB rule changes. With larger bases, disengagement rules, and a pitch clock favoring baserunners, Phillies pitchers found themselves in the lower half of the league in limiting baserunner advancement. Pitchers like Aaron Nola and Craig Kimbrel faced challenges in this regard, with Nola openly acknowledging the impact of the pitch clock on his ability to control baserunners.

Catcher J.T. Realmuto also experienced difficulties, with his caught-stealing rate dropping to its lowest since his rookie season. Adapting to the rule changes and addressing pitching strategies to hold runners on will be crucial for the Phillies to maintain a competitive edge in 2024.

Despite these challenges, the Phillies have the potential for a successful 2024 season, especially with the recent re-signing of Aaron Nola. The front office may also explore further roster upgrades. By focusing on plate discipline, defensive improvements, and refining strategies to hold runners on base, the Phillies can enhance their competitiveness even before delving into free-agent acquisitions or trades.


Phillies, Jose Ruiz Agree To Minor League Deal…

The Phillies have reached a minor league agreement with right-handed reliever Jose Ruiz, according to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors. The deal includes an invitation to the major league spring training, where Ruiz will have the opportunity to compete for a spot on the roster. The OL Baseball Group represents Ruiz.

During the 2023 season, the 29-year-old pitcher played for both the White Sox, where he had been since 2018, and the D-backs, who acquired him in April for cash after the White Sox designated him for assignment. Ruiz faced difficulties in the early weeks of the season in Chicago, giving up nine runs in just 3 2/3 innings. However, he performed reasonably well with Arizona for a significant portion of the season.

In his 40 2/3 innings with the NL champions, Ruiz posted a 4.43 ERA with a 19.8% strikeout rate, a 9.3% walk rate, and a 42.4% ground-ball rate. His fastball averaged 96.6 mph, and he achieved a 12.5% swinging-strike rate with a roughly average 31.5% chase rate on pitches outside the strike zone. In Arizona, he also managed hard contact effectively, with exit velocity (88.5 mph) and hard-hit rate (34.4%) both better than average.

Throughout the season, command remained a challenge for Ruiz, consistent with his career history. Although his 9.3% walk rate with the D-backs was an improvement from his career average of 10.9%, it still exceeded the league-wide 8.6%. Furthermore, his command within the strike zone was subpar, contributing to the high rate of 1.55 home runs allowed per nine innings pitched.

The D-backs had the option to retain Ruiz through arbitration by adding him back to the 40-man roster, but they chose to let him become a free agent. The Phillies then acquired him on a low-risk commitment. If Ruiz can regain his previous form, the team could potentially control him for up to three more seasons. While his performances in the 2022-23 seasons were unremarkable, as recently as 2021, he delivered solid numbers with 65 innings of a 3.05 ERA over 59 appearances for the White Sox, striking out 23.2% of opponents with a more manageable 9.2% walk rate.

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