The good, bad, and ugly from the opening half of the Phillies’ season

The Offense

The Phillies’ offense is on fire. They have scored an average of 5.67 runs per game over the course of 2020. Only the Dodgers and the Padres have scored more runs per game.

While Bryce Harper and J.T. “Pay Him” Realmuto have been the bonafide team leaders on offense this year, they no longer need to shoulder the brunt of the burden.

Joe Girardi has stuck with Andrew McCutchen and Rhys Hoskins at the top of the order this season, and they are beginning to demonstrate why. Cutch is batting .339/.361/.542 in the last two weeks. Meanwhile, Big Hosk has hit home runs in three consecutive games and has hit five in his last seven games.

The rest of the Phillies’ offense has turned it on the last few weeks. Even Scott Kingery was finding his rhythm before heading back to the IL yesterday with a back injury. With the addition of Alec Bohm and the return of Jay Bruce from the IL, the Phillies now have eleven players that they can turn to on any given day to contribute in the lineup.

Phillies’ Starting Pitching

Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler have proven to be one of the best one-two punches in the NL East this year. Wheeler has pitched a team-leading 2.58 ERA over the course of his 38.1 IP while Nola has struck out 48 batters this season. Jake Arrieta has proven to be the weak link of the order so far. Following his blowout on Sunday, he is arguably the worst free-agent signing in franchise history. He has pitched a 6.49 ERA this year and is 2-4 in his six starts.

Meanwhile, Zach Eflin and Spencer Howard are finding their footing. Eflin pitched his best outing on the season on Saturday against the Braves. He pitched seven innings of one-run baseball and would have pitched the eighth inning if it weren’t for an untimely rain delay. Howard pitched against the Nationals last night and looked great through five innings of work. Howard worked a high pitch count early that cost him longevity in the game, but struck out four and only allowed runs off of a Juan Soto home run.

Overall, the Phillies’ pitching staff owns a 4.22 ERA this season. Given how Eflin and Howard have improved over the course of the season, expect that number to drop into the threes as we move into September.

The Bullpen

After acquiring David Hale, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, and now David Phelps, the Phillies’ bullpen looks a lot deeper than it had a week ago. Adding veteran arms allows Girardi to take some stress off Hector Neris and company, especially now that the Phillies will be without David Robertson and (likely) Jose Alvarez for the rest of the season.

In fact, looking back at the Phillies’ Opening Day roster, only Hector Neris, Adam Morgan, and Tommy Hunter remain in the bullpen today. And the bullpen has been getting better. The bullpen’s ERA was 10.12 at it’s worst. Today, it is sitting at 7.09. Still the worst in the league, but a lot of progress has been made. The main difference between now and two weeks ago is that the bullpen is no longer the main reason for defeat. The pen is still allowing an occasional run scored, but it can now hold onto a lead when given one.

Second Half Projections

TeamGPRuns ScoredRuns AgainstProjected Record
Atlanta Braves3417514934-26
Philadelphia Phillies3016816630-30
Washington Nationals3215516228-32
Miami Marlins3012813927-33
New York Mets3515116827-33

As the team head into the second half, they are right at where the numbers project them to be at 30-30. However, given how the offense is catching fire and pitching is stabilizing, I think it’s safe to say that the Phillies will have their first winning record since 2011 this season.

That’s not to say it will be easy, however. The Phils will need to play 30 games in 27 days with two days off and five scheduled doubleheader days. That kind of sprint could lead to fatigue quickly for the Phillies, and it is up to Joe Girardi to manage his players well.

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

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