10 Things I Like and Don’t Like After Five Phillies Games
The Philadelphia Phillies are five games into the 2021 season. After sweeping the Atlanta Braves in their Opening Series, the Phillies split the next two games with the New York Mets. They will close out the series against the Mets today with Aaron Nola on the mound at 4:05pm.
Here are 10 Things I like and don’t like after five Phillies games this season.
1) Alec Bohm Defensively at Third Base
There is no question Alec Bohm has a major league ready bat after hitting .338 and finishing runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year in 2020. But the biggest question surrounding the 3rd overall pick in the 2018 Draft going into this season was whether he could hold up defensively at the hot-corner. If not the Phillies would be forced to move him across the diamond to first base, greatly lowering his offensive value and complicating a roster where they already have a productive and popular veteran in Rhys Hoskins.
So far Alec Bohm has has tremendous instincts and quick decision making. On Opening Day Bohm was simply everywhere. He made a few quality plays on pop-ups in the infield with the wind blowing. And then quite frankly saved the game with saving 2 runs by robbing Marcel Ozuna in the 6th inning.
2) The 1-2 punch of Nola and Zach Wheeler against anybody in the National League
If you are going to have any success in the MLB playoffs you need more than one elite pitcher. Just in the National League you have tandems including Buehler-Bauer, Scherzer-Strasburg, Darvish-Snell, and Fried-Morton. For the Phillies to contend this year they need Zack Wheeler to become elite and live up to the 5yr/$118 million contract he signed for a few years ago. Wheeler clearly has the ceiling of a true #1 and that was on full display as he shut down the Braves holding them to 1 hit over 7 innings on Saturday.
Having Wheeler pitching at an elite level also takes a ton of pressure off Aaron Nola. Knowing that he doesn’t have to perform to perfection can allow Nola to settle in and avoid over reaching for his best stuff on a given day he doesn’t have it. I also believe it takes pressure off the offense. Despite the Phillies potent offensive lineup in 2020, Aaron Nola did not receive a lot of run support. The Phillies scored two or fewer runs in half of his games and averaged just 4.73 runs over all 12 starts.
3. A Left Handed Starting Pitcher
Even though Matt Moore struggled and wasn’t able to complete the 4th inning on Monday evening, simply turning on the tv and seeing a left handed starter made my dick move. Since 2017 only 30 games have been started for the Phils by southpaws and of those Drew Smyly leads the way with 12, which is not exactly inspiring. To be honest, not having a left hander in the starting rotation for five years is yet another reason Matt Klentak should be thrown into the Atlantic Ocean.
Moore allowed two earned runs on four hits and four walks with four strikeouts in his 3⅓ innings Monday. The walks are clearly a problem and even the best pitchers will struggle to find success granting a free pass to that many hitters. Despite the walks, I thought Moore looked competent and was able to hamper guys who traditionally crush righties like Michael ‘The Philly Killer’ Conforto.
4. Goodbye to the Designated Hitter
Some people staunchly supported dumbing down the game of baseball and argued for Major League Baseball to continue the use of the DH in the National League into the 2021 season. For me it’s clear; if you play in the game, then you must hit. One thing I love about the NL is that there is no place to hide for an aging veteran who cant hack it anymore at first base or hide in left field. (Im looking at you Albert Pujols ). Getting rid of the DH not only adds a bit of strategy to a game often criticized as dull, but sometimes the pitchers actually make contact and drive in runs!
Jacob DeGrom and Zack Wheeler have two of the sweeter swings among pitchers and didn’t wait long to make an impact on games this season. Zach Eflin put down a nice bunt to move over a runner on Sunday as well. Call me old-school but I am glad we are back to normal.
5. Starting extra-innings with a runner on second base
I absolutely love this new rule! There is nothing fun about watching a 14-inning game unless you are 13 years-old and on summer vacation. I know the players don’t much enjoying playing in them either. Having to use every pitcher in your pen can ruin the level of competition in the rest of a series and in my opinion is bad for the overall product on the field. No MLB game should be decided based on which team’s shortstop throws a better knuckle-curve.
It only took three hours into the first game of the season to realize the immediate benefits. Extra-innings against the Braves on opening day was as exciting as baseball gets. In the top of the 10th Ozzie Albies was thrown out at the plate by Roman Quinn during arguably the most exciting moment in professional sports. Then Jean Segura singled, driving in Bryce Harper to score the winning run in the bottom of the 10th. If I have to choose between two additional hours of teams trying to ‘conventionally’ manufacture runs and what we saw on Thursday, I will take the latter every time.
5 Things I Don’t Like…
1) Bryce Harper and his ‘cleats’
I get it. Bryce Harper is popular and wants to endear himself to the Philly Phaithful, while hopefully selling some Under Armour gear in the process. But enough already with the funky cleats. These arguably are not even cleats. Nobody could ever play a competitive baseball in these clown shoes. They look like a pair of novelty bathroom slippers you give to your nephew on Christmas Day.
Listen, I am a big supporter of everything Bryce Harper. I think he is a great baseball player and well worth the 13 year contract. But enough already with the cleats, enough.
2. Mets Fans taking over Citizen Bank Park
Maybe NBC Philly is just excited that there are actual fans at a Phillies game for the first time in forever and decided to crank up the crowd volume. But from my couch in Roxborough, it certainly seemed like there were 5,000 boisterous Mets fans at CBP on Monday night. It was so noticeable that John Kruk and Tom McCarthy mentioned it multiple times during the broadcast. Yes, as they mentioned the two cities are only 90 miles apart and fans routinely make the trip to the opposing team’s ballpark. But on Monday night I felt like Phillies fans were outnumbered. After Jacob deGrom singled to put the Mets ahead 2-0, I cringed and walked out of the room in disgust at what I was hearing. There is no plausible explanation to have that many opposing fans at a game where only 11,000 are allowed to attend. Shame on any season-ticket holder who had a part in providing seats for those cockroaches.
3. The search for a starting Center Fielder Continues
I don’t know many fans who were sold on either of the potential three starting CF options for the Phillies during spring training. Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn and Odubel Herrera each have their own unique limitations that lead to questions about whether any of them can cement themselves at such an important defensive position. I was very much in Adam Haseley’s corner beginning on opening day, but since have cooled after he already aggravated his hamstring and then morphed into Quinn and forgot how to track a fly ball on Monday.
Adam Haseley has a sweet swing and I am sincerely rooting for his success. But sometimes I wonder whether he has the physical tools to succeed as an everyday player at the major league level. He is about to turn 25 and still may need to gain 20 pounds. The power just isn’t there. I am not ready to give up on Adam, but at this point Odubel has a higher upside as an offensive player and Roman Quinn is better defensively. If Scott Kingery can ever get his shit together I would guess Haseley will be the odd man out.
I don’t want to spend too much time on Roman Quinn because every Phillies fans knows exactly who is he by this point. It is only a matter of time before he strains a hamstring and is out for 2-3 weeks.
For your viewing pleasure, here are Roman’s first ten at bats this season:
- Bunt groundout
4. Aggressive Base-running by Bryce Harper and Co.
Twice in the first two games Bryce Harper was thrown out trying to extend plays with aggressive base running. On Opening Day, Bryce was thrown out by a mile trying to stretch a double into a triple with one out. I appreciate smart aggressive running on the base paths, but the the numbers on trying to extend this into a triple simply don’t add up.
On Saturday, Bryce was gunned out trying to stretch a single into two by Ronald Acuna Jr. As the leader of the team Bryce needs to make better decision the base paths. Cant have it!
5. Vinny Velasquez – The nightmare that never ends
Vinny Velasquez pitched a stellar 6th inning on Tuesday night striking out the side without allowing a hit. I will forgive Joe Girardi because he has only been in Philadelphia for 65 games. Every Phillies fan knows under no circumstances can you bring Velasquez back for the 7th inning.
Velasquez followed Girardi’s confidence up by walking four straight batters before being removed. For some reason Girardi didn’t start warming up another pitcher until he walked the bases loaded!
How many seasons do we have to continue to watch this turd?! If I have to hear how ‘great his stuff is’ one more time I am going to lose my mind. Velasquez may be able to stick around in the league for a few additional seasons, but it shouldn’t be with the Phillies.
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY