Take a deep breath and exhale. Perhaps even take a seat before ingesting this bit of news. As of Monday morning, the Philadelphia Phillies, at 24-11, are the best team in baseball.
Want even more of a shocker? They are leading the N.L. East is up a full 2.5 games on the Atlanta Braves. 

I know, I know, it’s hard to even process.

After notching their fifth straight victory on Sunday night against San Francisco, the Phillies have their best start through 35 games since 1995, a marked departure from their glacial starts to the past two seasons.

It’s a little over a month into the season, and the Phillies are playing like they’re chasing a Wild Card spot in June, winners of 16 of their last 19 contests and nine straight at home.

The obvious question then becomes, can they keep it up? 

Probably not. At least not at this torrid of a pace. But for a team that has played at this level at different points over the past two years, there isn’t any reason why the Phillies’ recent success isn’t sustainable over the course of the regular season. For the first time in this team’s current era of contention, they’ve laid the groundwork. They haven’t dug themselves into a hole, performing poorly enough early on that they’re forced to play catch up throughout the summer, taking solace in “best record over the past month” polls and a first-place standing in the N.L. Wild Card race. Because of their white-hot start, the Phillies actually have a chance to compete with Atlanta for the division title. 

Losing Trea Turner for six weeks hurts. The star shortstop went down with a hamstring injury on Friday night after scoring from second base on a passed ball in the fourth inning. Turner had been one of the anchors of the offense in the no. 2 spot, slashing .343/.392/.460 in 33 games this season. Reliever Yunior Marte, who has a 2.70 ERA in 12 games this season, also went to the IL on Friday with right shoulder inflammation.

It’s unfortunate but not wholly unexpected. The Phillies were bound to face adversity at some point this year. 

However, the Phillies have rallied together when down a star before. In 2022, they went 32-20 after Bryce Harper went down with a fractured thumb in June. They are a roster designed for contingency plans–if one star goes down, theoretically, another should take their place. In the two games since Turner’s injury, J.T. Realmuto has filled in the two-hole admirably, working two walks and a triple on Saturday and notching three hits in Sunday’s win. Alec Bohm continues to be white-hot, extending his hitting streak to 18 games. Harper blasted a three-run shot. The scuffling Bryson Stott added on a walk to pair alongside an RBI double. 

Their pitching remains elite, even if Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and Ranger Suarez looked a little more human this weekend. Taijuan Walker notched another solid start on Sunday, yielding three runs in 6 ⅓ innings. Jeff Hoffman, who has allowed just two runs in 16 innings this year, remained dominant on Sunday night, striking out the side in the 8th before giving way to Jose Alvarado, who slammed the door in the 9th. 23-year-old Orion Kerkering has been strong as well, notching a 1.17 ERA in seven appearances as he continues to assimilate into the bullpen after missing nearly all of spring training with the flu. 

So yes, just as the Phillies have hit their high point of this young season, they are facing their first real bit of adversity. But it shouldn’t derail them–if anything, it should test them, fueling their fire even more. The big names are going to need to step up.

The Phillies are going to have to play as a complete team. So far, they’ve won no matter the circumstance–they’ve won when they haven’t hit well, they’ve won when they’ve hit well, they’ve won in tight games, in blowouts, on good days and bad, rain or shine, they’ve won.

So, who’s to say that they won’t continue to do so?


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