Don’t look now, folks, but our Phightin’ Phils have been playing some solid baseball lately. With a 5-4 record so far after the all-star break, the Phillies have looked pretty good to start the second half of this season.
With a first half that produced a 29-58 record, it would be hard to not improve upon that for the Phils from here on out. After taking 2 of 3 games from the Marlins and the Brewers respectively in their last two series, the Phillies find themselves a game over .500 at 5-4 so far after the mid-summer classic.
Now, it might be too much to ask this team to stay at this pace through the rest of this season, right? Maybe not. If all things go according to plan, this team could easily salvage a sorry first half by looking like a much better team from here on out. A number of things have to happen, though, that’s for sure. It’s not like we expect them to go 50-16 in the last 66 games of the season to put themselves in the running for the second wild card spot. Still, though, we expect better baseball, and I think we can all agree that seeing them pull a .500 record in the second half would be a great success for this ball club.
What must they do to achieve this feat, though? Here’s what has to go right to make it all come to fruition:
- We will start with the obvious. For any team to have success, the team has to stay healthy. At this very moment, I’ve got MLB Network on in the background where they’re talking about Clayton Kershaw missing 4-6 weeks due to injury. For the best team in baseball, that is a huge hit to take at this time of the year. Even for a team like the Phillies, if they lost any of their key players to injury, it wouldn’t help very much. If they lost the red hot Aaron Nola, or the stud rookie Nick Williams, or maybe once again losing the consistency of Cesar Hernandez, their chances of going .500 in the second half would certainly dwindle. Let’s hope and pray that this team can stay healthy.
WHEN THE OLD FOLKS ARE TRADED AWAY, THE KIDS MUST PLAY!
- We are one week from the trade deadline. The likes of Pat Neshek, Jeremy Hellickson, Howie Kendrick, Joaquin Benoit, and possibly more could see themselves on new teams come the evening of July 31st. That means that there will be plenty of playing time to be spread around amongst the youngsters on the Phils. We’ve already seen what Nick Williams has done since his call-up, and if the Phillies are able to get rid of some of their veterans, opportunities could open up for other top prospects such as Jorge Alfaro, Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, and more. In a season that the playoffs are a distant pipe dream, there would be absolutely no harm in giving the young studs an opportunity to strut their stuff with the big club. Promoting Williams has already paid dividends, so why not give it a shot with the rest of the prospects?
TOMMY, MAIKEL, AND ODUBEL MUST RING THE BELL!
- Barring any unforeseen changes, it seems as though Tommy Joseph, Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera will most likely stick with the Phillies through the rest of this season. Anything can change this week, but it appears that these three will be relied on to drive in runs for the Phillies from here on out, in addition to Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr when he returns from injury. It’s been an up-and-down season for all three of these players. There is no doubt, though, that all three have the potential to lock themselves into this Phillies lineup for years to come. If they start to prove their worth and put up some big numbers the rest of the year, then this team will win some ball games.
GEAUX, NOLA, GEAUX!
- Aaron Nola has looked like an ace lately. I’ll scream it from the rooftops! I’m not afraid anymore! He’s the real deal! Okay, I’ll stop now. It’s just that the way this guy has been pitching has us very excited. If Nola can continue his winning ways and pitch deep into ballgames like he has been since his return from the DL, we can start to not worry about how Phillies games will go anymore, at least every fifth day.
AARON’S NOT ALONE!
- As good as Aaron Nola has been recently, there’s more than one pitcher in a starting rotation. The likes of Jeremy Hellickson (for now), Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta and Jerad Eickhoff MUST do their part as well if the Phillies want to put up a .500 record in the second half. Hellickson has been mediocre to say the least. Eickhoff just picked up his second win of the season yesterday, on July 24th. That’s not good. Vinny V is just returning from the DL, and before he found himself on the sidelines, he wasn’t putting up great performances either. Nick Pivetta has been very up and down, looking like a shutdown pitcher at times, and also getting hit around at other times. It will come down to consistency from the rest of this rotation for this team to win games. The offense, so far this season, hasn’t made life easier, so it all starts with the young pitching staff keeping this team in the game to be successful.
SPEAKING OF THAT OFFENSE…
- Ya gotta hit the ball! If this team doesn’t score any runs for the pitching staff, then stellar outings like Aaron Nola’s games lately will all be for naught. So far in the nine games since the break, in which the Phils are of course 5-4, they’ve scored at least 5 runs in all of those games but one, including a 10-run, 20-hit outburst against the Marlins on July 19th. What do they need to do to keep winning? Keep hitting the ball! As one of the worst offensive teams in the league in the first half, their record reflected those numbers. The same has gone for them so far in the second half, as their over .500 record reflects their solid offensive numbers. The likes of Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams, and Freddy Galvis have had hot bats over the last nine games, and if this team can keep at this pace offensively, then a .500 record seems very realistic.
33-33. With 66 games remaining, this is the win-loss number the Phillies need to finish with a total record of 38-37 post all-star break. They would finish the season with a 67-95 record. Considering how bad things looked throughout most of the first half for this team, a season where they don’t reach 100 losses, at this point, would be a success. Let’s see if they can put it all together to ultimately make something out of this 2017 season other than historically bad win-loss records.
Photo: Dave Rosenblum (Via: Flickr)
Also, follow me on Twitter @SportsTalkDP for all the latest on everything I have to say or retweet in sports, with an obvious Philly bias.