So, we’ve got some good news, and we’ve got some bad news.
The good news is, the dreadful first half of Phillies baseball has come and gone.
The bad news is, well, is there really anything that makes us think the second half will be any better than the first?
With the all-star break and the mid-summer classic now behind us, we’ve come up with some bold predictions for the second half of 2017 Phillies baseball. Some of them would and should definitely help the club have a more successful second half compared to their awful first half. Others might not help much in the wins department, but will help more in terms of shaping out this roster for next year.
Before we get into this, let’s look back at the predictions we made way back in February for this 2017 season and see what has come to fruition so far:
1.) Vince Velasquez leads the team in wins: NOPE.
2.) LHPs Sean Burnett and Cesar Ramos both make the team out of Spring Training: Total games played for the 2017 Phillies: ZERO.
3.) None of the Phillies’ top prospects will start the year in the Majors: Other than Andrew Knapp, we got this one right. Wasn’t that hard to figure out, though.
4.) Maikel Franco reaches 30 home runs and 95 RBI: He’s going to have to work pretty darn hard to reach these numbers. First half: 13 HR and 45 RBI. Second half would have to be 17 HR and 50 RBI. Not totally impossible. He’d have to turn things around big time.
5.) Clay Buchholz gets demolished in the National League: He demolished his forearm before he really had a chance.
6.) Howie Kendrick, Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek net the Phillies some nice prospects by July 31st: To be continued…
7.) Michael Saunders earns himself another year in a Phillies uniform: LOL.
8.) Jeremy Hellickson pitches like an ace in the first half and the Phillies trade him for Major League ready talent: Well, he’s been pretty mediocre so far. Likely still getting traded, but not for as much as we would like.
9.) Tommy Joseph hits bombs, but bombs everything else: Although TJ has been one of the most consistent bats in this lineup, his 76 K’s in 294 at-bats so far this season compared to his 75 K’s in 315 at-bats last season means we were right on with this one. The power’s there, with his team-leading 15 home runs. The plate discipline, though, is something to improve upon. It will be interesting to see if he will even be in a Phillies uniform at year’s end to do so.
10.) JP Crawford finally gets called up… on August 1st: Will JP get the call-up based on potential? Or will his sorry season at the plate keep him in AAA? To be continued…
11.) The Phillies finish right around .500, but still finish in 4th place in the NL East: First half record: 29-58. Record needed in the 2nd half to get to finish at .500: 52-23….. Yeah, that probably won’t happen.
Obviously, we overshot ourselves on some of these predictions before the year. Let’s see if we can have some better luck this time around. Based on our article yesterday, in which we talk about possible deadline deals for the Phils, we are going to focus on the non-trade predictions here:
Aaron Altherr continues to impress, locks down starting OF spot for 2018
– At this point, this isn’t really all that bold of a prediction, but let’s start off with a safe pick. Aaron Altherr came into this season as a versatile 4th outfielder who would spell Herrera, Saunders (lol), and Kendrick when needed. Now, he looks to be the most certain part of this Phillies outfield’s future. With a first half in which he hit at a .284 clip with 14 HR’s and 44 RBI, Altherr solidified himself as a solid major league outfielder. Whether it be in LF, CF, or RF, the 26-year-old has been one of the very few bright spots on this club so far this year. Without question, he looks like he will be a part of this team’s immediate and long-term plans.
Aaron Nola keeps his recent strong run going straight through the second half, becomes ace by season’s end
– Remember early on this year when Aaron Nola looked like the same old guy who continually couldn’t make it as deep into ballgames as we wanted him to? Injuries of course didn’t help his cause, but Nola seemed to have the same disease that this whole rotation seemingly had early on, which was throwing way too many pitches in short outings. Now, though, Nola has seemingly turned into the workhorse we all thought that he was capable of being. In his last 4 starts, he’s made it through at least 7 innings each and every time. Over that span, he has gone 3-1 with a total of 5 earned runs given up in 29.1 IP. He has struck out 34 batters over that span, striking out 8 hitters twice and 9 hitters the other 2 outings. Here’s to hoping that the all-star break doesn’t halt the momentum that Nola was building up over this span. If he can come out of this season looking like the ace of the future for this club, that would mean more to this team than almost anything else. He could go into next season as the longest tenured arm in the starting rotation, so his experience and his stellar outings could lead to an Opening Day start in 2018.
Only one of either Odubel Herrera or Maikel Franco will have a good second half.
– In a perfect world, Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera will both hit .300 in the second half and show that their first half numbers were just a small bump in the road in their long careers. The thing is, though, that this is Philadelphia. Nothing is ever perfect in Philly sports. It’s a given. With that said, only one of these two first half disappointments will turn things around in the second half. Which guy will it be? That remains to be seen. There’s just no way that we will get lucky enough to see them both have a successful second half of the season. All signs point to Odubel being the one to turn in a solid second half, considering he turned things around in June after a putrid month of May. He could easily revert back to the May version of himself, though. As for Franco, this whole season has been a disappointment for him. Now is as good of a time as ever to show us all why the Phillies should still consider him a franchise cornerstone for years to come. With rumblings of these players being shopped and not seen as a part of this team’s future anymore, it will be one of the biggest things to watch for during this second half of games to see whether or not these guys can be the leaders that we all want them to be.
Hector Neris will lose the closer’s job, leading to a closer-by-committee ROS.
– Coming into this season, Hector Neris seemed primed to be the closer of the present and future for the Phillies. When Jeanmar Gomez was handed the job out of Spring Training, we still knew that Neris would eventually get a crack at the job. Although Hector’s 3.52 ERA and and 7 saves seem decent on the surface, it feels like every time he comes into the game for a save, he’s got us biting our nails. If this team wants to be successful in the future, they need a guy amongst the likes of a Kimbrel, Jansen, or Chapman who is almost certain to shut the door every time they touch the mound. The prediction here is that Neris starts to blow a few saves, starting the closer-by-committee approach that will consist of Neris, Luis Garcia, the returning Edubray Ramos, and possibly more. Neris would end up entering 2018 as a 7th-8th inning guy, which is right where he should be, as evidenced by his 2016 numbers. The Phillies could easily spend a little money on a closer, or look to trade for someone, maybe taking advantage of some of their outfield depth and flipping a player or two from that group.
JP Crawford gets called up in September, even after a dreadful season at AAA.
– Potential, potential, potential. That’s what will get JP Crawford to the big leagues later on this year. His .211 average won’t help him get to the majors, that’s for sure. Crawford has many people questioning whether or not the 2013 first round pick will ever be the player that everyone has been waiting for. Still, though, there’s no denying his talent. Freddy Galvis has shown that he is more than capable of being an every day major league shortstop. JP Crawford has not proved that he is ready to take on that role. That is why Freddy will likely stick around at least through the end of this season, allowing for a September call-up of Crawford when games won’t matter much. If anything, Freddy gets traded in the offseason after JP struts his stuff for a month with the Phils, but he hasn’t done enough to supplant Galvis anytime soon. Don’t be surprised also if Freddy is still around heading into 2018 to give Crawford one more chance to prove himself down on the farm.
Alfaro, Hoskins, Kingery, Cozens, Quinn, Thompson, and Eshelman will all be with the team by season’s end.
– It’s a little too early to tell exactly how and why these players will find big league time this year, but a combination of major leaguers needing to be replaced due to injuries, trades, and performance will cause an influx of big name prospects to wear the red pinstripes by the end of the season. The first player of this group to get to the majors, or in this case get back to the majors, would have to be Jorge Alfaro. This is a similar situation to JP Crawford, in which Alfaro hasn’t had a very good year with the bat. The only difference is that Freddy Galvis is much more of a reliable major leaguer at this point than the man blocking Alfaro at the moment, Cameron Rupp. Rupp’s .220 average, including a month of June in which he hit .182, isn’t helping his case to stick with this team much longer. Between Freddy Galvis’s stellar defense throughout his whole career so far and his recent hot bat, he has proven that he will be a key player in this league for a long time. Whether most of that play will come in a Phillies uniform or a different one remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, though. The invasion of the youngsters is on the horizon.
The Phillies will have a better winning percentage in the second half than they did in the first, but barely.
– With a sorry 29-58 record in the first half, the Phillies find themselves at a .333 winning percentage, the worst in baseball. To even that output in the second half with 75 games to play, the Phils would have to go 25-50. It would be hard to believe that they can’t do better than how they did in the first half. This record would leave them with a 54-108 record. They can’t possibly finish that bad, can they? Well, not much so far this year has made us think any different. There’s just no way that they can be that bad the rest of the year, right? The prediction here is that they will be better win percentage wise, but not my too much. a 30-45 record, which would still put them at 59-103 to finish the season, seems like a realistic number at this point. It’s sad to say, but until this team shows us that they can turn things around, it’s easy to think that they won’t improve much.
So, there you have it. Once again, we will get every one of these right!
Okay, maybe not, but come on guys. Let’s be a little optimistic about this second half. I mean, it can’t get much worse than the first half, right?
Photo: hj_west (Via: Flickr)
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