Red October: Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins, and where the Phillies stand after taking the first two games against the Atlanta Braves
Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins are the two longest tenured players on the Philadelphia Phillies and neither of them have ever played in the post season.
Everyone knows the narrative that has plagued the Philadelphia Phillies over the last several years. They hang around in the standings until September and then manage to completely fall off a cliff over the last month of the regular season.
This year, although there have certainly been peaks and valleys, has been different.
With just 12 games remaining in the regular season, the Phillies magic number to break a decade-long playoff drought now sits at 9 games.
The Phillies are in the midst of a three-team battle for the second and third National League Wild Card spots.
With last night’s win, guided by none other than Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins, they now hold a half-game lead on the San Diego Padres for the second Wild Card spot, and lead the Brewers by 2.5 games.
Phillies Wild Card Standings
The Phillies also hold tiebreakers against both the Padres and Brewers.
We have said it for months that the Phillies hunt for a Red October will come down to how Aaron Nola pitches in September. Needless to say, through 24 days this month, Nola’s performance has been “narrative busting” as he continues to dominate the month of September.
The Phillies have won three of four starts with Nola on the mound in September this year. He holds a 2.08 ERA over 21 2/3 innings this month and has struck out 28 batters in those four starts.
As for Rhys Hoskins, a player that has suffered season ending injuries in September over the last few years, has emerged this season as one of the Phillies most consistent players.
On the year, Hoskins is averaging .250 with an .810 OPS. He has 29 home runs and 76 RBI. Yes, Hoskins is one of the streakiest players in Major League Baseball, but he also has a knack for finding his rhythm when the team needs him the most.
Last night, Hoskins went 3-for-4 from the plate against the Braves with a home run, double, and 4 RBI. In the first two games against the Braves this time around, Hoskins is now 4-for-8.
Hoskins is now just one home run shy of his second 30-home run season with the club. He hit 34 in 2018 and as mentioned, a good chunk of time at the end of last year, but still managed to hit 27 home runs over 107 games.
JT Realmuto is another Phillies player that has never been to the playoffs, and after starting off the year “slow”, the Best Catcher in Baseball has returned with vengeance over the last month of this season.
Over his last 30 games, Realmuto is averaging .336 with eight home runs and 26 RBI.
Here’s where JT Realmuto, who fans wanted off the team just a few months ago, ranks among all catchers in Major League Baseball.
The Best Catcher in Baseball
- Hits – 2nd
- Runs – 1st
- HR – 4th
- RBI – 2nd
- BA – 2nd
- SLG – 1st
- OPS – 1st
- XBH – 2nd
- SB – 1st
- WAR – 1st
Then you have Jean Segura, who currently has the longest-active non-playoff appearance streak in the National League. Over the last 30 games, Segs is wavering .272 with three home runs and nine RBI. The Phillies will need him to keep trending upwards as well over the final weeks of the regular season.
Of course, the Phillies will need the rest of the lineup to contribute and in some cases, reclaim their footing. Bryce Harper struck out twice last night with a walk and an RBI on a sac fly. September hasn’t been kind to Harper, as he is now just 10-for-67 this month (.149 AVG) with 26 strikeouts.
I’m not worried about Harper yet. He’ll find his footing and be ready for the playoffs.
The Final Push for the Playoffs
The Phillies have just two home games left, both against the Braves, before ending the season on a 10-game road trip. They’ll face the Chicago Cubs three times, the Washington Nationals four times, and the Houston Astros three times to end the season.
As of now, the Phillies will be in Atlanta the second week of October for a three-game Wild Card series against the Braves.
The Hunt for Red October Continues.