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How The Phillies Look Heading into Crunch Time

            The Phillies are entering mid-August as one of the hottest teams in baseball. Since Rob Thomson (or “Philly Rob” as he is becoming known) has taken over, the team has gone 41-20. Thomson finds himself as a potential manager of the year and the Phillies are entering a critical stretch with inter-division series against the Mets, Braves, and Marlins in the next month and a half.

            The fans are starving for the playoffs as they have not made it since 2011. The team appears destined to be in the playoffs once again as they currently hold one of the wildcard spots and, barring a late-season meltdown, should continue to hold it with their recent play.

             Dave Dombrowski made moves at the deadline to prevent any second-half disappointment that plagued the team for the previous few seasons, but were the moves enough? Let us find out by examining the Phillies’ positional groups and the outlook of the team as they try to end the playoff drought.

Starting Pitching

            With the acquisition of Syndergaard at the trade deadline, the Phillies could potentially be five starters deep when it matters most. Nola and Wheeler are one of the best one-two punches in the league. Suarez, Gibson, and Syndergaard make up a very good rest of the rotation, with Ranger and Noah carrying high upside in any game to pitch above their slot in the rotation. In fact, the rotation has been one of the better in the league from top to bottom and the stats back this up.

Phillies starters, last six games: 27.0 IP 11 Hits 0 HR 29 K 0.67 ERA — 𝐃𝐚𝐧 𝐑𝐨𝐜𝐡𝐞 (@RochesRWinners) August 12, 2021

This does not even factor Zach Eflin, who is on the 60-Day IL with yet another knee issue. Should he return this season, the Phillies would have a six-man rotation that would allow the aces to get extra rest by October. It would also mean that there could be an extra long-reliever in the bullpen which would help a lot.

The Bullpen

             Speaking of the bullpen, the unit that has plagued the Phillies for years and caused every fan nightmares has actually pulled it together. Six of the relievers in the bullpen currently have an ERA under four, including David Robertson who has yet to be scored on since arriving via trade. The other two, Alvarado and Nelson, have their ERAs under 5. It has been a long time since the Phillies have had even an average bullpen. It transformed when Thomson took over and started using the closer by committee approach (seven of the eight pitchers in the pen have at least one save). There is a certain element to the unpredictability of who could be coming in for the save that seems to be working for the team. This bullpen certainly looks like one that can keep up with any team and should keep the Phillies in the hunt, unlike prior seasons.

The Infield

            If you would have told me after last year and the beginning of this season that Alec Bohm would be hitting around close to .300 and playing good defense I would have scoffed. Yet here we are as he comes off hitting an insane .434 in July. Bryson Stott has climbed himself out of the abysmal start he had to the season and is now a decent hitter to pair with his very good defense.

Crazy: Bryson Stott is the first player to ever reach base four times in the same game against Max Scherzer. — Tim Britton (@TimBritton) August 13, 2022

Jean Segura is back from the IL and doing what he has continued to do since signing with the Phillies. Rhys has been his usual streaky self. However, has been able to keep his average around a serviceable .250 while providing power and better defense than usual (which is still not great but let us try to focus on the positives). JT has continued to be one of the best catchers in baseball defensively and has finally shown signs of life as a hitter over the last month. In all the infield has become very stable with a blend of power, average, and surprising defense.

The Outfield

            When all are healthy, the Phillies outfield should be one of the best offensive outfields in baseball. Harper was on another MVP pace, Schwarber is challenging 50 homers, and Castellanos is normally a 30 homer, 100 RBI guy. That being said, Harper has been on the IL and is just now starting to take swings again. The hope should be to get him back by mid-September which seems likely given the latest news.

Bryce Harper will take batting practice on the field tomorrow for the first time. He’s staying back and doing his work at Citizens Bank Park. Progressing well, Rob Thomson said. Getting closer to minor-league games. — Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) August 14, 2022

Kyle Schwarber is also injured, although it does seem to be anything major, and it will hopefully just be a few games. Castellanos has not been himself all season, but you would hope he can figure it out at some point in the last month and a half. With multiple guys injured, Brandon Marsh was acquired from the Angels. He at least provides great defense in center field and some speed on the basepaths (although his bat leaves a lot to be desired). Was he worth the price of Logan O’Hoppe? I personally feel it was too steep, but time will tell with that trade.

            The Philadelphia Phillies are looking to make some noise in the playoffs. They have a pitching staff that has six potential starters, a bullpen that has been amazing under Rob Thomson, and an offense that can be one of the best in baseball. They have some injuries right now, but as they get healthy entering the end of August, they should be able to keep their hold on the wild card and possibly even challenge the division.

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