Three Phillies That Need to Rebound Now

Aaron nola
PHILADELPHIA, PA – JULY 24: Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola (27) delivers a pitch during the fifth inning of the game between the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies on July 24, 2020 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

Funny how quickly two rainy losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers can bring down the mood. That’s Philadelphia Phillies’ baseball, baby.

Sweep the Mets, Bryce Harper’s our MVP, Kyle Gibson works, BLAM, summer showers, and J.T. Realmuto exits early. It seemed so. . . attainable yet, suddenly, you’re sharing first place with the Atlanta Braves.

If the Dodgers can teach us anything – it takes a small army.

With that in mind, let’s highlight a couple of Philadelphia’s soldiers who have been lagging. If the Phillies truly have the NL East crown in their sights, these three will need to turn it around and quickly. Beginning with everyone’s favorite amateur artist (must say, he truly understands shading).

Didi Gregorius

Gregorius is standing at the edge of the volcano, and Freddy Galvis is halfway down the slope in a lawn chair, drinking a margarita. The heat is on.

The injury-plagued 31-year-old has appeared in just 54% of games in 2021, missing May 13th through June 30th, hitting just .219 with an OPS of .677.

Injuries outstanding, Gregorius has been unplayable against left-handed pitching. In 64 PA’s, Gregorious has hit just .148, slugging a paltry .254. This isn’t new either.

Since 2019, Gregorious has hit just .194 against lefties. Your everyday shortstop should be better.

That may be unfair because that stretch includes a 2019 season shortened by injuries, the abbreviated COVID-19 campaign, and just 62 games in 2021, but that’s the point. It’s becoming more and more puzzling that the Phillies were willing to pay him $28MM over two years.

Outlook for the rest of 2021: if this team’s legitimately planning on making a playoff run, they cannot justify playing Gregorious every day. I haven’t even mentioned his -10 Defensive Runs Saved.

Get your glove ready, Freddy.

Aaron Nola

Hard to believe the former LSU Tiger has been with us for seven professional seasons and, wow, what a bumpy ride.

Nola, initially projected as a #2 or #3 starter, transformed into Philadelphia’s heir apparent ace; however, things haven’t gone quite as smoothly in 2021.

June was not kind. Six starts, 6.00 ERA, and seven home runs on the month. Not ideal, but July was incrementally better even though it didn’t feel it.

That should give you a bit of hope, and although we have just four July starts to examine, a 3.81 ERA is a marketed improvement.

Not to mention, Nola hates June. He has 26 starts and 4.99 ERA to prove it. Chalk it up to midseason fatigue.

August has been much friendlier. He’s pitched more innings in August (187.1) than any other month throughout his career, along with a 1.014 WHIP which ranks number one in monthly holdings.

Outlook for the rest of 2021: the Phillies will need him to get right, and I believe he will. Nola’s FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) sits at 3.44, almost a whole point lower than his 4.35 ERA. That’s to say he’s gotten a bit unlucky.

Most devastating of all, in Nola’s most recent contest, he looked sharp before getting washed out by a torrential East Coast downpour. Through four innings, the former Tiger has collected seven strikeouts, allowing just one hit. Good things are coming.

Jose Alvarado

Dave Dombroski made his first trade in Philadelphia by acquiring Alvarado from Tampa Bay. Cliffnotes: injury concerns and command issues but 100 mph fastball. Fast.

I’d say he’s been about as advertised, but nobody warned us about the eighth-inning meat sweats when this kid hit the rubber.

100 mph never seemed to slow the Phillies’ momentum so much. If things are going well, they go wrong and anchors away if things are going wrong. That’s anecdotal, but any Twitter poll would tell you that Alvarado makes just about everyone nervous. Alvarado plus Hector Neris, and things get cardiovascular.

Between when I began writing this, and now, Alvarado has landed on the 10-Day IL nursing a shoulder injury.

Hopefully some time off helps but enough negativity. It hasn’t been all bad.

Left-handers are hitting just .180 against him, and that’s fantastic. The problem being, only 34% of the batters he’s faced have been lefties. For that, I blame the 3-hitter-minimum rule. Three years ago, he’s a lefty specialist and nearly unhittable. Funny how drastically one rule change may affect his career.

Outlook for the rest of 2021: not like the Phillies have many reliable options, but the anxiety of Alvarado entering a playoff game could be unmatched. It’s also tough to get far in the playoffs without a lefty option in the bullpen. Alvarado’s going to have to work whether you like it or not.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire