The Phillies have established themselves as a serious threat to reclaim their National League pennant and contend for a World Series championship in the 2023 postseason.
Since June 3rd, the Phillies have gone an astounding 46-26, putting the whole league on notice. The Phils currently sit at the top of the NL Wild Card standings with multiple teams in the rearview, games behind them.
As of late, the Phillies seem like the only sure lock to make the playoffs out of the other Wild Card competitors who keep fighting tit for tat for a playoff berth. Most recently, the Fightins swept the Cardinals out of Philadelphia.
To no one’s surprise, what’s really worked for the Phils is their ability to “ring the bell.”
This August, the Phillies have bashed a total of 49 home runs, breaking their franchise record for most homers in a single month.
It was fitting they broke that threshold in a 12-1 thrashing of the Cardinals last Saturday on national television. They should reach 50 in next week’s home series with the Angels.
The Phillies bats have been hot all across the board. Of course, you have Trea Turner, who (post-standing ovation) has hit for a .346 batting average, a 1.013 OPS, five home runs, and 16 RBIs in a 20-game span.
Manager Rob Thomson believes that the fateful Friday fan frenzy for Trea in that first game against the Royals in early August was a catalyst for the Phillies’ latest success.
“And I think when our fanbase stood up for Trea, it not only changed Trea’s season, but in some ways, it changed everybody’s season because this is a group that’s really tight-knit; they care about each other,” Thomson said on the WIP Morning Show.
After getting Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow, star slugger Bryce Harper looks to be back in form. Since the All-Star break he has raked. Absolutely raked. He’s hitting for more power, getting on base over 40 percent of the time, and has ten more hits than games started since returning from the mid-July break.
With Harper hot, the sky’s the limit for the Phillies.
Kyle Schwarber has, of course, produced a ton of Schwarbombs. In fact, he now has the same amount of home runs as he does singles (36). It’s a mind-blowing stat, especially for a leadoff hitter. But Schwarber has been getting the job done in almost every category besides that batting average, and, hey, it seems to work.
And Nick Castellanos, Bryson Stott, Alec Bohm, Brandon Marsh, and Johan Rojas have been excellent complementary pieces to a stacked lineup. The Phillies are certainly in the conversation for the esteemed title of best lineup in baseball.
On the pitching side of things, Zach Wheeler has been phenomenal, with a 2.87 ERA through his last 9 games. He has achieved quality starts in 8 of those 9 starts and has proved to be the Phillies clear ace ahead of October’s playoff race.
Behind Wheeler are four to five above-average starting pitchers that the Phillies can feel comfortable trotting out to the mound. Sure, Nola is extremely inconsistent this year, and Taijuan Walker, Michael Lorenzen, and Cristopher Sanchez have little to no playoff experience.
But when each of these pitchers are on, they’re on. We saw that with multiple bullpen arms for the Phillies last season. The keys to success in relief for the Phillies in the next couple of months this season will be in the hands of Craig Kimbrel, Jose Alvarado, Jeff Hoffman, and a few select others who have shown time and time again this season their trustworthiness in holding leads and preventing losses.
If everything goes according to plan and the Phillies keep producing at the same level they are now, there should be at least two Wild Card games at Citizens Bank Park.
And with this lineup and that electric ballpark, pure baseball ecstasy could be in the near future.
Photo: The Liberty Line