Why it’s so crucial that J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins are healthy by opening day

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Corey Seidman
·2 min read
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Why it's even more important this year that Phillies' studs are healthy by opening day originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

J.T. Realmuto isn’t worried about the small fracture in his thumb, and the Phillies’ hope is that he’ll be ready for opening day.

This may sound ridiculous, but it’s important that Realmuto is around in early April because the Phillies’ first 13 games of the regular season are against the two best teams in their division, the Braves and Mets.

The Phillies open the season with a six-game homestand — three against the Braves, three against the Mets. A seven-game road trip follows with three in Atlanta and four in New York.

Those first 13 games of the season matter just as much as the final 13, especially given the opponents. You don’t want to dig yourself into something like a 4-9 hole. It might not seem like it at the time, but it could loom large five months later. We discussed this on Friday's Phillies Talk podcast, which you can listen to here.

Realmuto is probably the Phillies’ most indispensable player given the drop-off offensively and defensively from him to his backups. Over the last two seasons, the Phillies are 94-84 in his starts and 15-29 when he does not start. It’s not a massive sample but it’s telling. The Phillies are comfortably over .500 with Realmuto in the lineup and have played like a 55-win team without him.

“He's like the quarterback of the team,” Aaron Nola said earlier this week. “He runs the show back there.”

The Phillies will also move at a slower, logical pace with Rhys Hoskins, who is coming off of early-October surgery to repair a ligament tear in his elbow. That injury cost Hoskins the final 17 games of 2020 and the Phillies went 5-12. Hoskins might not be ready for the Phillies’ first few Grapefruit League games, which begin Feb. 28, a week from Sunday.

Brad Miller is a decent insurance policy at first base. A $3 million contract for a bench player may seem like a lot, but Miller has been a productive power hitter two years in a row (.247/.343/.510 with 20 HR in 341 plate appearances) while playing six different positions.

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