Bryce Harper, Phillies starting to see results with Rob Thomson

Phillies manager Rob Thomson
Philadelphia Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson walks to exchange line ups before a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Friday, June 3, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Not even a week after Joe Girardi’s dismissal and interim manager Rob Thomson has already begun making headlines with a three-game sweep against the Los Angeles Angels. With immediate success like this, Thomson could find himself erasing the temporary title in favor of a permanent position.

Sweep, Sweep Victory

Phillies Sweep Angels

A rough start to the season and a 21-30 overall record were just two signs out of many that signaled the need for a change in leadership. Hired as the bench coach for Philly in 2018, Rob Thomson had seen plenty under former skippers Gabe Kapler and Joe Girardi. So much so, that when the time came to step up and take over, he didn’t hesitate to answer the call. Thomson proudly led his crew into battle against the Angels and came out victorious in the end.

The cherry on top here was the 9-7 comeback victory which saw Bryce Harper smack a game-tying grand slam followed by a Bryson Stott walk-off three-run blast to send the fans home happy.

The popularized saying in baseball, “Let the kids play!” now echoes throughout Citizens Bank Park as young guns like Stott were given finally given their shot.

When asked about his feelings regarding the walk-off homer, Harper said, “I’m so happy for (Stott), man. What an at-bat. What a situation for him. Being able to put our trust in our young guys the last couple days, and really let them just play”, via the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Harper also stated, “Our young guys have got to play. When you want your young guys to have success, they have to play every day. And when they have those opportunities, I think they’re going to take full advantage of that.”

Some have been quick to point out that this was a subtle jab at Girardi but overall the message is clear: if they want to win, they need to trust in their younger talent. As much as one would like to blame the former skipper, that would be unfair to say the least as he can’t shelter all their problems from the storm.

Before this series, the Phillies struggles resided in multiple areas within the organization that was out of Girardi’s control. The bullpen’s inability to pitch efficiently, costly errors being committed frequently and the lineup’s lack of production from players like Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos are immediate issues that come to mind.

A manager can only do so much for his team so at what point does it boil down to the specialty coach’s responsibility to ensure success? Regardless, a series win is a series win and Philadelphia is onto bigger and better things as we reach the halfway mark in the season.

Down The Stretch

The Milwaukee Brewers will be the next opponent staring down Philly as a new three-game set opens on June 7th. I believe this will be the true test of Thomson’s managerial skills as the Brew Crew currently lead the NL Central Division with the St. Louis Cardinals only a half-game back. The good thing for Thomson is that he has already seen play against the Brewers plenty of times so he already knows what he’s up against.

After posting a career-best 1.36 ERA last year, a shaky Ranger Suarez (4-3, 4.69) will be taking the bump for Philadelphia opposite Milwaukee’s Jason Alexander (0-0, 2.57) to start game one. If the Phillies have truly started to turn over a new leaf then it will most certainly show in this series. Only time will tell if this little spark they’ve created will turn into a full-blown fire representing their $230 million dollar payroll.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum