The Dog Days of Summer and Reasons to be Optimistic about the Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies have two more games against a very good San Diego Padres team before hitting the road for seven games against the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox before the All-Star break. They currently sit in fourth place in a jam packed NL East at 38-41. They are four games behind the first place New York Mets, 1.5 games behind the Nationals in second place, and one game behind the Braves in third.
After a brutal two weeks of baseball where the Phillies watched themselves blow lead after lead, there are still reasons to be optimistic. The NL East is still there for the taking. I know it’s hard to get excited about a team that has blown eight games in the last nine games, but the fact still remains that one hot streak from the team could propel them into playoff contention for the first time in nearly a decade.
Last night, the Phillies blew another save before avoiding a loss in extra innings thanks to a Brad Miller walk-off double to give the team a 4-3 win over the Padres. Zack Wheeler was dominant, throwing 114 pitches over 7.2 innings, allowing just four hits, zero walks, and zero runs while striking out nine. On the season, Wheeler now has five scoreless starts of at least seven innings. No other pitcher has more than three. His ERA dropped to an incredible 2.05 on the year.
Phillies starting pitching has been great over the last few weeks. In a four game series against the Mets last weekend, Phillies’ starting pitching only allowed one earned run in just over 23 innings of work with 26 strikeouts. On Tuesday Vincent Velasquez pitched his best outing in years, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out seven, while retiring the last 13 batters he faced against the Marlins.
The starting pitching has been there. As we all know, it’s their bullpen that has continuously let games slip away in the later innings of ballgames. Dave Dombrowski and the Phillies organization desperately need to find someone that can come in and close out games for this team if they want a shot at turning things around in the second half of the season.
Seven games before the All-Star break. 24 games before the trade deadline. The Phillies season will come down to how well they perform now. The Phillies are finally healthy for the first time since early May, with both Didi Gregorius and Jean Segura returning to the lineup. On paper, the Phillies look much more balanced and it showed last night, with Segura and Didi reaching base a combined four times, with Gregorius crushing his first home run since May 5th to extend the Phillies lead.
Entering last night, the Phillies offense was listed as 17th in Major League Baseball in scoring runs. Hopefully with a now healthy lineup, they can begin climbing the ladder to get closer to where they were last year, when they were a Top 5 run producing lineup in Major League Baseball.
Today, they will send Zach Eflin to the mound to face Padres’ pitcher Yu Darvish. Eflin is 2-6 on the season with a 4.20 ERA but has continued to provide solid outings for the Phillies. Against the New York Mets last Saturday, he got the best of Jacob deGrom, throwing six innings while allowing five hits and just one earned run. Girardi made the mistake of pulling Eflin after just 82 pitches and the bullpen blew it for a loss. Darvish has pitched great this season and will enter today’s game 7-2 with a 2.44 ERA.
Zach Eflin could send the Phillies hopes through the roof with a strong outing today against the Padres. The Phillies are 23-15 at home and need to rack up as many wins as they can before hitting the road for seven games before the All-Star break.
We’re in win now mode. Time to Ring It on a nightly basis. Summer baseball isn’t dead yet in Philadelphia, but things certainly do need to improve starting today. Will update this article as soon as the lineup is released.
PHILLIES LINEUP TODAY VS PADRES