Heading into the All-Star break, the Phillies are not where they would like to be. They’re behind the Braves by a considerable amount and battling the Nationals for second place and a wild card, for now.
Criticisms have shifted from Gabe Kapler to General Manager Matt Klentak for not improving the starting rotation. Starters outside of Aaron Nola have had barely any success in their last 3 starts.
Their ERA’s in the past 3 games are as follows:
Vince Velasquez-4.40 ERA,
Jake Arrieta-7.71 ERA,
Nick Pievetta-8.10 ERA,
Zach Eflin-9.64 ERA
That level of awfulness has hidden the fact that the Phillies have improved their bench over the past month and a half.
Jay Bruce and Brad Miller and to a lesser extent Sean Rodriguez and Roman Quinn have all been improvements to a weak bench.
There’s so much you can say about Jay Bruce. The 32-year-old veteran is in his 12th season and is currently putting up the best slugging percentage of his career. If the season ended today, he’d have a .575 SLG. That’s 61 points higher than his career best from 2012.
Bruce slashed just .212/.283/.533 with the Mariners before being traded to the Phillies on June 2nd for minor-leaguer Jack Scheiner. Since he’s come to Philadelphia, Bruce has slashed .291/.308/.641. He’s hit 24 home runs in 2018 and already 10 for the Phillies. The man is in the middle of a career renaissance.
Listing Bruce is slightly cheating as he’s currently the starting left fielder. He was, however, brought in originally as a bench piece before the McCutchen injury.
Bamboo Master Brad Miller was acquired for money from the Yankee in an under-the-radar transaction. Not only has Brad brought a lucky symbol to the team in the form of Panda’s favorite treat, but he’s also found success at the plate. Miller has hit .304 with a 1.060 OPS since joining the Phillies.
Miller has been a great addition to the bench, especially when you remember who he replaced. Phil Gosselin had a .566 OPS when he was DFA’d.
Sean Rodriguez and Roman Quinn
While not as noticeable as Bruce or Miller, Rodriguez and Quinn have made quiet improvements to the bench. Sean Rodriguez has been a key hitter against lefty pitchers. He’s hit .290 with a .905 OPS against southpaws.
Roman Quinn is not a good hitter. He’s hit only .111 in 2019. Roman is, however, a speed demon and a defensive wizard. He could round almost any major league bench with those skills.
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports