Can the Phillies Continue to Win Games?
The Phillies are on pace to win 96 games if they remain at their current pace.
Even if they play one game under .500 the rest of the way and go 62-63, they’ll finish with a winning 84-78 record. Last year the Mets won the NL east a 90-72 mark.
Regardless of what their record is over the final 125 games, the Phillies have provided fans in the Delaware Valley an exciting brand of baseball over the first 37 games. Winning 14 games by one-run, after winning just 16 such games all of last-year.
Sure, maybe they can't keep pace up - say the Phillies go 50-75, they’d still finish 72-90, a nine game improvement over last season, and a clear step in the right direction under first year GM Matt Klentak and manager Pete Mackanin.
When they were 0-4 out of the gates, after dropping two of their first three games by losing late inning leads - it appeared the Phillies bullpen would be a troublesome unit all season long. With a young pitching staff handing off games to an incompetent bullpen throughout the season, leading to frustrating losses.
We’ll see if they can sustain this .595 pace. But at least there is some good reason to think they can - the question is will they?
Can the bullpen keep it up? Opponents are averaging .242 against Phillies relievers, which ranks 16th in baseball. On the bright side, Hector Neris has been dominating in the eighth inning with nine holds, 30 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched. Jeanmar Gomez is 14 for 15 in save opportunities. Many thought the Phillies bullpen would be its biggest weakness when spring training ended, it has been a strength - and maybe the biggest reason why they are 22-15 today.
Somehow the relievers have flourished in spite of starting the season without a real closer on the roster. The bullpen coughed up two games on opening weekend with two different relievers, David Hernandez and Dalier Hinojosa, blowing leads.
Please stand up and pat yourself on the back if you’d ever heard of Neris or Gomez before the season started. Now, Phillies fans feel comfortable, if not confident, that that duo is going to nail down a win when they are called on.
The starting rotation has been both exciting and effective. Unlike last year, everyday you feel the starting pitcher will give the Phillies a good chance to win. There is no Sean O'Sullivan, Jerome Williams or Kevin Correia type of guys toeing the rubber this season. On average Phillies starters go about six innings (5.7) per night - getting deeper into games, allows for the Phillies bullpen to benefit. They already have six shutouts this season, last year the staff had just seven shutouts all year.
The best part about the Phillies rotation is there is help on the way, if there is an injury, such as the one that cost veteran Charlie Morton the season, the Phillies have a capable replacement - like Adam Morgan - depth is not a concern at the games most important position.
The lineup, which has been a major issue, has come up with timely hits, which is maybe more important that having a good offense. While the Phillies are hitting just .231 as a team, nobody has been better than Odebul Herrera, who is hitting .455 with runners in scoring position. The team already has three walk-off wins, after having just seven all of last season.
The Phillies have added Tommy Joseph to try to add some more offense to the middle of the order and some more help could be on the way with Cody Asche getting closer to a return to the team - which could add some more offense.
The top of the order is key, with Herrera one of the league leaders in on-base percentage, the Phillies need their two-through-five hitters to provide more scoring with the chances he gives them. That means guys like Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Freddy Galvis need to be better.
The best thing at this point is having some hope for the future, while playing good, fun baseball right now.
The past few years, by the middle of May, the Phillies have been an after-thought - giving off an apathetic feeling to baseball fans in the Delaware Valley.
Can you believe they’ve won six of their last seven series, including a sweep of the Nationals. They went 5-5 on their recent 10-game home-stand, and have played on the road 19 of their last 22 games. They are 12-10 on the road after winning just 26 road games all of last season.
A win today over the Reds, would give the Phillies a sweep - and seven series wins in their last eight.
So can the Phillies keep this up?
I don't even want to guess, right now the surprise hasn't worn off, so it's hard to give a fair opinion.
So far its been Pretty amazing - enjoy the ride.