The Phillies are playing good team baseball. This is driven home by the facg that they are in first place and lead the Braves by a game and a half. It is good news and a great time to be a Phillie fan. However, there is a question that needs to be asked.
Are the Phillies giving away too many games?
Bullpen Issues and the need for Defined roles?
The Phillies record is 19-14, however, in six of the Phillies losses, the games were either tied or the Phillies were winning going into the 7th inning or later. Almost half the losses, the Phillies were in a position to win and lost due to the Bullpen.
Back in the 2008 season Ryan Madsen and I had an agreement. Okay, not really as we never met, so we’ll call it a one-way agreement. Every time I watched Madsen pitch he got lit up. So I would turn off the game whenever he pitched. As a superstitious fan, it worked so I continued this trend. Madsen was amazing that year.
The same may have to go for Hector Neris. Neris is 5-for-5 in closing situations and he doesn’t need me being the jinx. Out of the six bullpen losses mentioned above, 3 were blown saves. Neris has earned the right to continue as a closer. I’ll just have to resign myself into watching something else for the ninth inning.
The rest of the bullpen is managing very well, despite the six blown games. Dave Robertson still is on the injury list as is Tommy Hunter and Victor Arano. Still, I am a firm believer in setting the roles of the bullpen. Gabe Kapler continues to not abide by this thinking. I appreciate Kapler trying something new, but in this case, defined roles are something that have been around for some time and works well. It also stops Kapler from making mistakes with his pitchers as he did in the Marlins game on 4/25. Kapler allowed Neris to go back on the mound after being bailed out by his defense the inning before. Neris gave up two runs and the Phillies lost the series opener.
The Starting Rotation
If I told you that Jared Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, and Zach Eflin would be the three best starters, you probably would call me crazy. You would certainly think that the Phils weren’t in first place. However, this is the case. Eickhoff’s debut promptly sent a struggling Nick Pivetta down to AAA Lehigh Valley. Eickhoff has been very good since coming off the injured list. He is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in four games. Eflin just picked up his 4th win last night and has pitched deep into games, with one complete game, giving the bullpen much needed rest.
Aaron Nola has struggled this year. The Phillies ace 2-0 with a 5.06 ERA. Nola is struggling to get outs and go deep into the game, which is what you would expect out of your ace. The right-hander has appeared in seven games and has averaged 5.28 innings per game. Now as of late, He seems to be turning it around, however, what was almost a guaranteed win day when he pitched is anything but. Here is to hoping he completes the turnaround.
This lineup is fun to watch. Led by Jean Segura and Rhys Hoskins, you get the feeling that the Phillies are never out of the game. The Phillies have been struggling a little bit as of late. Segura missed 10 games and during the stretch, the Phillies went 4-6. He is batting .340 and has shown that he is a huge part of the Phillies success.
Bryce Harper is in a bit of a slump. Although he has a few hits this weekend, he has only three multi-hit games since April 5th. That being said, Harper is batting when it counts. He is batting .281 with runners in scoring position and .333 with runners in scoring position and two outs. The team, however, needs to improve as a whole when it comes to driving in runners. They are averaging 7.52 runners left on base per game, per teamrankings.com. That is 28th in baseball. Lucky for the Phils, the Mets and Braves are worse.
Now Harper’s value is that he walks and makes the players around him better, as seen by Segura and Hoskins leading the starters in batting average. The national media and dopes around the country have been waiting for this and waiting for Philly fans to boo Harper. Harper took it in stride saying he deserved it, but did everybody really need to hear from the “supergroup” Smash Mouth?
No, we didn’t. This isn’t 1998 when Smash Mouth were relevant. Philly fans expect better, as they should. Even when the team sit atop the standings. Now, it’s time to take care of the Cardinals.
Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports