The same thing happened last year. In the midst of the Phillies’ early-season mediocrity, outfielder Brandon Marsh got off to a torrid start.
According to Newton’s law, however, what comes up must always come down, and Marsh’s hot start petered out to a banal slash line of .277/.372/.458 with 12 home runs, 60 RBI, and 10 stolen bases over 133 games. 

However, things are not the same as they were last year. After sweeping both the Rockies and the White Sox, the Phillies are 14-8 through their first 22 games, their best 22-game start since 2018. The rotation, which struggled early in 2023, has been magnificent, posting a cumulative 2.25 ERA to start the year. And Brandon Marsh, at least in April, has continued to impress. Through 20 games, Marsh is hitting .288/.324/.561 – a similar line to 2023’s full season – however, he already has five home runs and 13 RBI. 

In the field, Marsh has been perfectly solid, which is a drastic upgrade in left field from Kyle Schwarber. Save for a few blips, his defense is trustworthy, and his arm, which ranks 5th in arm value per Baseball Savant, has the ability to elevate him from an average corner outfielder to a very good one.

Left Field

At the plate, the usual demons continue to plague Marsh, however: left-handed pitching and a high strikeout rate. These are invariably tied together–Marsh’s high strikeout rate of 36.6% is buoyed by his struggles against left-handed pitching. 11 of his 26 total strikeouts come against left-handers. For context, he only has 21 total plate appearances against lefties and is hitting just .197 in that span.

This year Marsh has made just four of his 20 starts against lefties. In 2023, it was just 18 of 117, or roughly 15%. Against right-handers, Marsh clearly has what it takes to play every day. Unfortunately, the Phillies are going to need to see a marked improvement against left-handed pitching to have the confidence to start Marsh every single day. 

Center Field

In center field, the Johan Rojas experiment seems to finally be yielding positive results at the plate. Although his defense has never been a question, Rojas got off to a freezing cold start at the plate; however, the tide appears to be turning. Since starting the season 1-22, Rojas has clawed his way back to a more than respectable .264 batting average with six steals and just eight strikeouts in his 59 plate appearances this April.

This is thanks to a torrid stretch over the last two weeks in which Rojas has walked just as much as he’s struck out and hit .429/.455/.484 over 34 plate appearances. He’s also stolen five of his six bases in the year. It turns out that when he gets on base, swiping second isn’t all that difficult for the speedy 23-year-old. 

Right Field

In right field, Nick Castellanos has had a tough time. In 79 at-bats, Castellanos is hitting just .177 and has yet to log a home run. After a resurgent 2023 campaign, this is not the start the Phillies nor Castellanos were hoping for. Unfortunately, when he’s going bad, it looks awful–he’s constantly caught in between, behind on fastballs, ahead on breaking balls, and unable to generate competitive at-bats.

With Castellanos, the assumption and hope is that he’ll eventually turn things around. Because while the Phillies are winning, they are doing so largely in spite of him.

If they can get Castellanos hitting somewhat close to the level that they expect out of him, then the lineup will be even more of a nightmare for opposing pitchers than it already is.


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