Today we continue our simulation of the shortened 2020 MLB season using Out of the Park Baseball 21. In July, the Phillies went 4-4 to start the season, including taking three of four from the New York Yankees.
While July may have been abysmally average for the Phillies, August was anything but. The Phillies went 20-7 in the month as they took first place in the NL East. At 24-11, the Phillies have a 5.5 game lead on the 19-17 Washington Nationals.
The month began as the Phillies split the remaining two games of their series with the Blue Jays. Vince Velazquez pitched a 10-strikeout gem in a 6-3 victory while the Phillies wasted a nine-inning one-run performance by Jake Arrieta in 2-1 loss in 10 innings.
Following their trip to Canada, the Phillies had a day off before a three-game set in Miami. The Phillies went on to sweep the Marlins in 4-3, 9-5, and 12-3 victories. Bryce Harper’s bat came alive in the series as he went a combined 6-for-11 with three runs scored and four RBI’s.
Following a nice, quarantined Miami vacation, the Phillies returned to Citizen’s Bank Park to host the Braves, Orioles, and Mets in a ten-game homestand. The Phillies swept the Braves in their four-game set from August 7th-10th. Arrieta, who pitched nine innings in his previous game, allowed five runs in 1.2 IP on August 8th. The Phillies rallied around home runs from Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, and two from Jay Bruce, to win the game 9-7. On August 10th, Zack Wheeler and Reggie McClain pitched for a combined shutout as the Phillies secured the sweep with a 5-0 win.
After a 4-1 win to start their series against the Orioles, the Phillies found themselves in a 4-4 tie through nine innings on August 12th. Hector Neris blew his first save of the season taking away the win from Velazquez. Logan Forsythe took the role of hero for the night, hitting a two-out walk-off single to give the Phillies the 5-4 win in 10 innings. Four runs would be enough for the Orioles the next day, however, as they scored four off Arrieta to spoil the sweep 4-2.
The Phillies rocked Jacob DeGrom in a 10-5 victory to kick off their series against the Mets. Philadephia won the next two games 4-2 and 6-3 to close out the sweep. Zack Wheeler won game two of the series as he faced his former team for the first time.
Overall, the Phillies won 12 games in 13 days from August 4th to 17th before their next day off on the 17th. The Phillies were then shipped up to Boston for a two-game midweek series on August 18th and 19th. The offense was on fire as the Phillies won both games 13-7 and 15-3. J.T. “seriously, Pay Him” Realmuto went 7-for-9 with a home run, five RBI’s, and five runs scored versus the Red Sox. The offense hit for a combined 29 hits and 13 walks over the two-game stretch.
The Phillies had a day off on August 20th before heading down to Atlanta to face the Braves. On August 21st, the Phils and Braves were tied 3-3 heading into the 9th. Rhys Hoskins stepped up to the plate and smacked a bases-clearing double to lead the Phillies on a five-run inning and an 8-3 victory. A six-run first inning (started by a lead-off home run from Roman Quinn) spurred the Phillies on to an 11-3 win on the 22nd. Atlanta avoided the sweep on Sunday as they scored four runs off Nick Pivetta while Cole Hamels allowed one run in a 4-1 game.
Monday, August 24th was the Phillies’ fourth day off of the month and their last for a while as they prepared for a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. From the 25th to the 27th, the Phillies were in Washington for their first series against the Nationals. Velasquez and Nola each took difficult 2-3 losses on the 25th and 27th, while the Phillies won 5-1 on the 26th. Andrew McCutchen hit his 11th home run of the season. The series marked an end to the Phillies’ six-series winning streak.
The Phillies returned to Philadelphia where their temporary skid would continue. The Phillies dropped their first two games against the Braves 4-5 (10 innings) and 5-8. Nick Pivetta allowed six runs in 4.2 IP in the Phillies’ 5-8 loss on Saturday, August 29th. It would be Pivetta’s last start for the foreseeable future as he was sent to the bullpen. The Phillies salvaged a win on the 30th thanks to a five-run 6th inning. Realmuto and Harper hit back-to-back solo home runs in the inning before Sir Didi Gregorius smacked a two-run dinger of his own.
August 31st was the trade deadline, and while the Phillies made no trades in this simulation, a new Phillie did make his appearance. Prospect Spencer Howard earned his shot following Pivetta being moved to the bullpen. Howard pitched well as the Phillies welcomed the Nationals to start a four-game home series. Howard pitched six innings of two-run baseball while allowing seven hits and striking out seven. Meanwhile, Realmuto hit two home runs for five RBI’s against Stephen Strasburg, taking him out in the 5th inning. Gregorious and Jean Segura also hit a home run apiece as the Phillies won 8-2.
Didi Gregorius and Andrew McCutchen lead the team with 11 and 13 respective home runs. McCutchen has hit the third-most home runs in professional baseball while Realmuto is tied for fourth. Gregorious is also the team-leader in both RBI’s and runs scored with 35 and 31, respectively.
While Gregorious and McCutchen may be the team’s leading power bat, Jean Segurea has been the most consistent bat in the lineup. He has 52 hits on the season and leads the league in hits, AVG (.394), WAR (2.5), and wOBA (.455).
Zack Wheeler has been leading a strong month from the Phillies’ pitching staff. In five starts, Wheeler is 3-0 with a 3.44 ERA on the month. While Wheeler has only struck out 33 batters in 46 innings this season, he has walked five batters on the season for a league-leading 1.0 BB/9 ratio.
The Struggle Bus
Through 35 games, Rhys Hoskins has yet to get hot. He has only hit two home runs on the season and is only hitting for an average of .197. Hoskins leads the team in strikeouts with 46 (which would equal 213 SOs in 162 games). Hoskins is captaining the struggle bus this season.
Nick Pivetta owned a 6.05 ERA at the time of his relegation to the bullpen after his August 29th loss to the Braves. Pivetta has only pitched out of the sixth inning twice and allowed five-plus earned runs three times. Combine those numbers with the Phillies wanting to give Spencer Howard his shot and Pivetta has found himself in the bullpen.
Missing In Action
There are several players who Phillies fans may be wondering about. In this segment, I will try to answer regarding their whereabouts. (NOTE: Minor League Baseball was not disabled in this simulation, therefore several of these players may have not made the lineup and are playing in the Minors.)
Adam Haseley: the 24-year old outfielder has found himself in AA Reading for the entirety of the season, having lost the centerfield job to Roman Quinn. Haseley is not performing well in Reading and is only batting .176 on the year.
Alec Bohm: Bohm has been spending most of the season getting reps at AA Reading, and has been doing well with a .272 batting average. Unfortunately, Bohm was injured on August 13th and is recovering from a high ankle sprain.
Jay Bruce: Bruce never found his groove in the 2020 season, having only hit 3 HRs with a .175 average. The Phillies released him on July 23rd and was eventually picked up on a minor league contract with the Detroit Tigers.
Zach Eflin: Eflin lost his spot in the rotation to start the season, and has spent the entire season in Lehigh Valley. He has not pitched up to his past seasons with a 5.04 ERA.
The NL East
The Phillies are running the table in NL East with a 24-11 record. The Nationals are following behind at 19-17 and currently possess the second Wild Card spot. The Braves and Mets are sitting at 17-18 and 17-19, respectively. Miami is in last with a 14-21 record.
The Phillies have finished their schedule against the Braves, and are 7-3 overall against them. Without any games against the Phillies, it will be difficult for the Braves to catch up in September. Meanwhile, the Phillies are 2-2 against the Nationals, giving the Nats six games in September to attempt to usurp the Phillies.
|New York Mets||17-19||.472||7.5||8-2||W1|
The Playoff Race
The Phillies may be in first in the NL East and have the third best record in professional baseball, but they cannot relax going into September. The Phillies are in the middle of a 20 games in 20 days stretch and only have two days off the remainder of the season. Additionally, the Phillies have six games remaining against the Nationals and Mets, along with two games against the Red Sox. The Phillies will also face the 21-16 AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays for the final three games of the season.
While the Phillies are in great shape after the month of August, seasons are decided in September, especially in a shortened season. Stay tuned to see how the Phillies do as we approach playoff season.
Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports