The National League East is a division of power hitters. The Atlanta Braves come to mind but how can anyone forget the Philadelphia Phillies?
August has only highlighted that statement.
There’s a buzz of excitement in the area for the squad after an arguably rough start to the year. Outfielder Bryce Harper was out after elbow surgery. Shortstop Trea Turner and typical power hitter Kyle Schwarber struggled. But the Phillies got a much-needed jolt of energy and the end of August looks very different.
Their offense got cooking in the final summer month with a couple of big moments. Philadelphia set a franchise record for most home runs in a single month. Harper (.308/.402/.503) is back hitting for power and recently hit his 300th home run.
Phillies’ All-stars are leading the charge
It’s only fair to highlight how far Haper has come since his Tommy John surgery. He had 12 hits in 23 at-bats in six games last week, hitting three homers and driving in just under 25% of the Phillies’ 42 runs. NL Player of the Month is not out of the question.
Turner (.258/.310/.437) finally has found his swing, the standing ovation may or may not have contributed to that. Schwarber (.188/.333/.455) is hitting deep shots and manager Rob Thomson can be happy with how the rest of the lineup is performing. Right fielder Nick Castellanos (.278/.314/.468) had his own three-run homer in the Phils 12-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on August 26th.
As of August 31st, the team has a record of 17-10. If things continue to progress as everyone hopes, they will have their first 90-win season for the first time in 10 years. With 29 games left to play, all hopes for a deep postseason run become more likely.
This Phillies offense is historically good. The Phillies scored 42 runs and allowed 18 last week. They also lead the league in three categories in their last six games. Their team’s batting average of .329 and slugging percentage of .628 are the best in the league. They have 14 homers, just behind the Seattle Mariners.
The quad of Harper, Castellanos, Turner, and Schwarber are thankfully living up to their big paychecks. All of these men combine to make 95 million dollars. They earned that money in August. They’ve had 77 RBI (of 147 total in the month), and having all these hitters get hot at the right time is key.
What next for the Phillies?
Granted, the Phillies schedule in September as the season winds down isn’t the most challenging. Only two teams they face have winning records: the Braves and the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers. Everyone else is below .500: San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and New York Mets, who they play twice.
They have a comfortable five-game lead in the NL Wild Card. October is just around the corner. Expect opposing pitchers and managers to be worried if they face the Phils in the postseason.
These boys are on fire.
AP Photo/Matt Rourke