Phillies get off to a shaky start in simulation of shortened season

Phillies fans everywhere are rejoicing as we are two weeks away from Opening Day. The Phillies now know their full 2020 schedule, and fans wonder if the Phillies can win the NL East with such a stacked schedule.

That is where OOTP 21 comes in to play. Out of the Park Baseball 21 is largely considered to be one of the best simulators across professional sports. It is an immersive experience and can be as realistic or fictional as one makes it.

Today, we begin use OOTP to simulate, as realistically as possible, the 2020 Phillies’ season.

Setup

Many of the settings that will be used for this simulation are the standard in-game settings. However, I believe it would be best to be upfront with the changes that were made to the game’s settings for this simulation. First, the frequency and difficulty of trading were increased. At the game’s base settings, trades happen at a relatively frequent pace, resulting in the occasional trading of a superstar (no, I’m not allowing Mike Trout to be traded to the Phillies for this simulation).

After that, adjustments were made to allow the DH in the National League as well as moving the trade deadline to August 31st. Also, Spring Training, the Amateur Draft and All-Star game were disabled. Settings could not be adjusted to align with the MLB’s slow reduction of the roster size throughout the season from 30 to 26. As there is no added option for “global pandemic,” the frequency of player injury was set to high to account for potentiall COVID-19-related IL listings.

As of July 10th, 12 players have decided to opt out of the 2020 season. These players were removed from the simulation and are as follows:

  • ARI: Mike Leake
  • ATL: Felix Hernandez, Nick Markakis
  • CHW: Michael Kopech
  • COL: Ian Desmond
  • LAD: David Price
  • PIT: Hector Noesi
  • SF: Buster Posey
  • WSH: Joe Ross, Ryan Zimmerman, Wellington Castillo

In addition, as their information regarding Seranthony Dominguez’s Tommy John surgery is not yet up-to-date, Dominguez was removed as well.

Phillies Through July

Even in a simulation, the Phillies just cannot beat the Marlins. The Phillies dropped two of three against Miami to kick off the season. Aaron Nola took the loss while allowing four runs on six hits in 5.2 IP in a 6-4 loss to start the season. On July 25th, the Phillies rode the long ball to victory as Andrew McCutchen hit two dingers, while Jean Segura and Roman Quinn each hit their own in an 8-7 win. Poor performances by starter Nick Pivetta and reliever Ranger Suarez cost Phillies their second loss of the year, 9-5, to close the first series of the season.

The Phillies dropped to a 1-3 start following a loss to the Yankees on July 27th. Vince Velazquez couldn’t make it through the fourth inning, allowing five runs and earning the loss 5-2. A poor performance by Jake Arrieta the next day was overshadowed by the Phillies’ offense, which rallied from an early 7-1 deficit to win 9-8. On July 29th, Aaron Nola went toe-to-toe with Gerrit Cole through seven innings as each allowed three runs scored. Didi Gregorious was the difference-maker as he hit a solo home run in the 8th off reliever Addison Reed as the Phillies won 4-3. With a series victory over the Yankees on the line, the Phillies found themselves in a 3-3 tie game in the top of the 10th following three-run starts from Zack Wheeler and James Paxton. J.T. “Pay Him” Realmuto slammed a two-run home run off of closer Aroldis Chapman as the Phillies beat the Yankees 6-3.

The Phillies would end the month 4-4 after a 10-6 loss to the Blue Jays. Pivetta allowed five runs while Reggie McClain took the loss in relief as the young Jays’ offense hit four home runs.

Top Performers

Scott Kingery, alongside Brandon Lowe, and Max Muncy, leads the league with ten runs scored through the first eight games. Kingery has done so while hitting for three home runs. Jean Segura also hit three home runs and leads the team with eight RBI’s. The team-leader in OPS, however, is Andrew McCutchen. While Uncle Larry may not know what OPS is, Cutch’s presence in the two-hole has been a crucial part of the Phillies’ offense.

Hector Neris has led the Phillies’ pitching staff and has been perfect through three relief appearances. Neris threw for six strikeouts while allowing zero hits and two walks on his way to three successful saves.

The Struggle Bus

Bryce Harper is known for having hot starts to the season. Not in this simulation. Harper is batting for a .143/.351/.179 slash line through eight games. Not only is Harper struggling offensively, but Rhys Hoskins and Jay Bruce as well. The trio has yet to collectively hit a home run and are all batting below the Mendoza line.

Eight games is not a great sample size for starting pitchers. Nola struggled against Miami but performed well against the Yankees. But once one looks past Nola and Wheeler, there is nothing but concern in the Phillies’ rotation. Pivetta, Velazquez, and Arrieta have yet to pitch into the fifth inning and have allowed 22 combined earned runs in four combined starts.

The NL East

While the Phillies have yet to perform up to their potential, they are in the middle of the race for the NL East. The Nationals lead the way at 6-2 and have dropped games to the Yankees and Blue Jays. The rest of the division is within three games, with the Mets being in last at 3-5.

TeamRecordPCTGBL10Strk
Washington Nationals6-2.7506-2W3
Miami Marlins5-3.62515-3L2
Atlanta Braves4-4.50024-4W2
Philadelphia Phillies4-4.50024-4L1
New York Mets3-5.37533-5L3

A Look Ahead

The month of August will be an important one for the Phillies. The Phillies have all ten of their games against the Braves as well as their first taste of both the Mets and Nationals. The Phillies also finish their current series against the Blue Jays, have three games against the Marlins, their only three against the Orioles (who are currently 1-7), and two games in Boston. They have 27 games scheduled in 31 days. If the Phillies are to execute and remain in NL East contention, the Phillies’ top sluggers will need to come alive while the starting pitchers need to find their groove.

Keep an eye out for part two as we take a look at how the Phillies contend throughout the month of August.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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