For the first time since 2013, the Phillies could, and should, have multiple players represent them in the All Star Game. When the 89th rendition of the Mid-Summer Classic comes to our nation’s capitol this July, the home of an NL East rival could see more red pinstripes than in year’s past. That’s because the Phillies are viable again. With the help of one particular free agent signing, and a young team beginning to sprout into full bloom, the Phillies are a team that aren’t going to get a pity player in this year’s All Star Game. The team won’t be sending a middle reliever because he is the only player on an inept team that has bee having success. The team also won’t send a player simply because the rules of the league dictate that they must. No, the Phillies are going to be sending a worthy player, or players, depending on the voting outcome, to this year’s All Star Game.
I know that the game itself isn’t for another month’s time, but let’s take a look at the potential representatives in order of their likelihood to make the team.
Aaron Nola: 90% chance
Aaron Nola has emerged as the true ace of the Phillies rotation. I know he isn’t the veteran leader, but if the Phillies found themselves needing to win one Wild Card Game to get into the playoffs, I’d find it difficult to not go with the young righty. To this point, Nola is 7-2 through 13 starts, tossing 84.1 innings despite an early hook on Opening Day. He’s struckout 80 over the span of the season, and opposing hitters are struggling mightily against him, hitting just .200 on the season. HNola has limited his walks as well, walking just 22 hitters. He’s pitching to a sub-1.00 WHIP midway through June, as he’s kept hitters off the base paths entirely this season. Both his fastball and slider velocities are up nearly a full mile per hour, which has allowed him to pound the zone with more frequency, helping lead to those fewer walks. All pitchers are selected by the team’s respective managers, but I can’t see a circumstance in which Nola gets snubbed, unless…
Jake Arrieta 75% chance
Unless, that is, that the manager of the All Star Game, Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts, elects to only go with one Phillies’ starter, and he chooses the veteran, Jake Arrieta. Arrieta has been worth every dollar the Phillies gave him this offseason, as he’s gone 5-3 with a 2.66 ERA through 11 starts. Arrieta missed the first two starts of the season as he was weeks late to Spring Training. the wait, however, was well worth it for the Phillies, who desperately needed a second top-of-the-rotation type pitcher to join Nola. Arrieta has struckout 44 batters over 64.1 innings of work, a number that is down from his Cy Young winning season, but one that is more consistent with his overarching career performance. The downside to Arrieta, as opposed to Nola this season, has been the amount of hits he’s surrendered. Arrieta has given up 54 hits in 64.1 innings, working to an opposing batting average of .241. Those numbers are still very effective, but comparatively, Nola has simply been a shade better. But, as I mentioned earlier, I could see, should the decision come down to Nola and Arrieta, assuming they maintain similar numbers, that Roberts elects to give the vet another All Star appearance to add to his resume.
Odubel Herrera 55% chance
Two weeks ago, this number would be immensely larger, as Herrera jumped out to one of the hottest starts in all of baseball. Since his blistering opening months Herrera has come back down to Earth a bit, which is expected of a man hitting .340. He’s still been fantastic, however, as he currently sits at .305 for the season. Herrera has hit seven homeruns and driven in 32 runs over 223 at bats. He’s also scored 27 runs of his own. The knock on Herrera, as it’s been throughout his career, is that he still strikes out too often. Through 59 games played, the center fielder has struckout 44 times. But his numbers aren’t totally deterred by the high strikeout rate. Many are still considering Herrera among the league’s most productive outfielders this season, making him a prime candidate to be a reserve for the team in a month’s time. With the fans selecting the starters, a tradition that has become more of a popularity contest in previous years, I don’t believe Herrera draws enough national attention to merit a start, despite his numbers saying otherwise. I still would like to see the young center fielder earn his second All Star Game appearances this year, though.
Edubray Ramos 10% chance
Most of the time, the All Star Game bullpens are predominantly made up of closers, which, at this current juncture, Ramos is not. But the number suggest that Ramos is a solid candidate to make his first All Star Game. Through 26 appearance, which span 22.1 innings pitched, Ramos has allowed just two earned runs. That comes out to a 0.81 ERA for the season. He has allowed 25 base runners, but he’s also struckout 20, as he’s limited the damage in nearly every appearance he’s made. In the two games he’s allowed runs this season, Ramos has allowed five batters to reach base, which signals he’s been consistent over the course of the season. Take those five runners away, and the two innings he’s pitched in those games, and you’re left with 20 innings of work in which Ramos has allowed 20 base runners. A 1.00 WHIP isn’t anything to be ashamed of, even as a reliever. Need we mention, too, that if you take those two outings away, Ramos as a 0.00 ERA over 20 innings of work? I know that Pat Neshek was selected last season as a middle reliever, but he was the Phillies’ lone selection out of necessity. It’s a long shot for Ramos, but the selection would be deserved if he was chosen.
Cesar Hernandez 1% chance
Really, Tyler? A guy hitting .256 has even the slimmest of chances at making an All Star Game? Well, yes, he does, but it likely won’t be by your hands. And to clarify, I don’t mean your, as in, the collection of Phillies’ fans. I mean your, the collection of MLB fans, most of whom don’t know who Cesar Hernandez is, and couldn’t pick him out of a crowd of people. But Hernandez serves a prominent role at the top of the Phillies’ lineup. He’s a catalyst in a traditional sense, not the new-age leadoff man who hits for power. While Hernandez does already have seven homeruns, two shy of a career high, he is most proficient at setting the table via the walk, of which he’s already drawn 42 this season. So while Hernandez’s average isn’t stellar, his on base percentage is. He currently owns a .370 on base percentage, goo for top 40 in the league and 20th in the National League. You’d assume a player who gets on base better than all but 19 of his NL counterparts has an outside shot of making an All Star team, no? It would take a manager’s decision after a few dropouts, but Hernandez could sneak his way onto a roster.
Mandatory Credit: Jim Young-USA TODAY Sports