After an 11-16 record in June and nearing the halfway point of the season, the Phillies will need a strong second half to win the division or get a wildcard spot.
So how do they grade out thus far?
The Phillies offense gets an F. For the amount of star power they have through their lineup, they are wildly underperforming. It doesn’t matter that the Phillies are 6th in pitches per plate appearance (3.99 PPA) – they are unable to create runs off of the number of pitches they are seeing. Looking at the copious amount of talent the Phillies have this year, JT Realmuto shouldn’t be the only All-Star, Jay Bruce shouldn’t have the most home runs, and Scott Kingery shouldn’t be the best offensive bat. Over the past 15 days, Phillies fans are starting to see the true power that Bryce Harper can bring to a team. He is slashing .255/.409/.462 with three home runs and 11 RBIs. The loss of Andrew McCutchen was a huge blow to the Phillies. However, they should still be a top-10 offense in baseball but, instead, they are right in the middle of the pack. They are 16th in runs scored, 20th in home runs, 19th in wOBA at .316, and 19th in wRC+.
With Realmuto behind the plate, the Phillies have reaped the benefits, especially when compared to last year with Jorge Alfaro. Matt Klentak was able to acquire significant upgrades for the Phillies defense this past offseason, and the decisions are proving beneficial. Realmuto is the sole All-Star representing the Phillies largely because of his defensive abilities, while Maikel Franco’s fielding percentage at third base this year is .982, compared to .949 in 2018. That is paying dividends. The only clear defensive sore thumb on the team is Rhys Hoskins at first base. Even so, the Phillies have committed the 10th fewest errors so far. In comparison, the 2018 Phillies had the second-worst defense in baseball, committing 121 errors.
Starting Rotation: C
Next, to the team’s offense, the inconsistency of the starting rotation is the Phillies’ biggest flaw. Jake Arrieta is far from the only issue that the Phillies face. Arrieta is actually tied with Zach Eflin in quality starts at 10. Aaron Nola appears to be himself again after his best outing of the year in a 2-0 victory over the Braves. Over that span of his last three games, he has pitched 22 innings, allowing 1 ER and punching out 26 batters. Outside of Nola, Eflin, and Arrieta, the Phillies 4th and 5th starters are questionable at best. If the Phillies can acquire another starter at the trade deadline, Vince Velasquez’s days of being a starting pitcher should be over; a full transition to the bullpen is necessary. Nick Pivetta needs to pitch with the level of confidence he had during the third game in the June Dodgers series in order to contribute quality starts to the team.
At the start of the season, Matt Klentak and Gabe Kapler believed that their bullpen was one of the Phillies biggest strengths. Apart from Hector Neris blowing two saves, he has been the only reliable pitcher coming out of the bullpen. Adam Morgan, who was “lights out” one of the best relievers in baseball early on in the season, hasn’t appeared to be himself since coming back from the Injured List.
Phillies relievers are 22nd in ERA at 4.77 and have been asked to pitch the 25th-fewest innings in baseball. The bullpen gets somewhat of a passing grade only because of the pile of injuries that have plagued them.
Featured Image: USA Today