The 2019 Phillies are a totally revamped team from the 2018 squad. So, how have things compared through their first 40 games of the season?

Well, this year they are 24-16 with a +42-run differential in their first 40 games. 2018? Ironically enough, they were the exact same – 24-16 with a +42-run differential. With all of the offseason acquisitions, are the Phillies really a better team when they have the same record and run differential as last year?

It should be obvious that the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

For starters, the offense is much better than last year. The 2018 Phillies were a pleasant surprise, but they fizzled out down the stretch and were unable to sustain their hot start. They finished the season with a -51-run differential. Quite the one-eighty from where they were almost a quarter of the way through the season.

Even with the struggles the offense has had in 2019, there are no indications that they too will decline as the season progresses. Instead, as it gets warmer out, this offense should explode.

Andrew McCutchen has been a stud in the leadoff spot, with a .371 on base percentage. Jean Segura has been better than advertised, with a .302/.343/.444 triple slash. That sets up the heart of the order – Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, and J.T. Realmuto – to drive them in.

Harper has struggled, there’s no getting around that. While he’s not the type of guy who’s going to hit above .300 every season, his track record shows he’s better than the guy who’s hitting a little above .200. Even with all of his strikeouts, he’s walking a ton, getting on base at a .367 clip. And like McCutchen and Segura, that puts Hoskins in a position to put up monster numbers. He is the true heart and soul of this team, and expect him to be in the hunt for MVP consideration.

Realmuto is the best catcher in baseball, and his performance thus far shows why the Phillies traded their top prospect in Sixto Sanchez to acquire him.

All of this puts the holdovers from last year – Odubel Herrera, Cesar Hernandez, and Maikel Franco – in better positions to hit. The pressure that they’ve had in past years to be the guys to carry this team is gone, so is it any surprise that they’ve all had decent seasons so far?

This team never feels out of it with the offense they’re putting out there every night, and they’re built to sustain that production.

The pitching, well, that could be a different story. Ace Aaron Nola has looked nothing like the pitcher from last year, struggling to the tune of 4.86 ERA. He’s let up nine home runs, one ahead of Jake Arrieta for the team lead. If this trend continues, it’s going to be rough.

Now, you wouldn’t expect Nola’s struggles to continue. But here we are halfway through May, and there’s no sign of him regaining his form.

The rest of the staff, while pitching relatively well right now, seems entirely too capable of having an atrocious stretch. The bullpen, for all of the talent they have, has been maddeningly inconsistent. There’s no true shutdown talent, and it makes one wonder if the Phillies are going to need to slug their way through the summer.

So yes, there are struggles, but this team has a different thing going for it than it did last year. They know they are one of the best teams in the National League, and even with the pitching concerns, the offense can be downright scary.

The trade deadline acquisitions this year will look a lot different than Wilson Ramos and Asdrubal Cabrera from last season. So while the teams look identical 40 games into the season, the 2019 version will continue to climb and leave the 2018 team in the rearview mirror.

Photo: via Twitter (@MLBStats)
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