After another promising start against the best in baseball, the Phils yet again devolved into a hitless, poor defense, stupid on the base paths kind of team that has no business being where they are in the standings. Since there was not a Friday update this past week, let’s take a real quick look back at the week that could have been but wasn’t.
Tuesday– Nick Pivetta pitched well against the best offense in the majors and Rhys Hoskins made one of the Phils 2 hits count by depositing it into the seats. Tommy Hunter did Tommy Hunter things again and conceded the go ahead HR in the 8th as the Phils lost 2-1 to the Sox.
Wednesday– Wilson Ramos debuted in a big way for the Phils with 2 doubles, a triple and 3 RBI. The Phils needed the offense as Vince Velasquez was torched for the 2nd straight time allowing 3 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks in just 2.1 innings. The Phils pounded out 12 hits on their way to a 7-4 win and for the 2nd time in less than 3 weeks, split a series with the Sox finishing their season series at 2-2, allowing just 9 runs in the 4 games.
Thursday (Dbl header Game 1)– Let’s just pretend this 24-4 debacle never happened.
Thursday (DH Game 2)– Hoskins opened the game with a 3 run bomb after Zach Eflin got touched up early. The Phils strung together 14 hits and 9 runs and managed to salvage a split in the double header with a 9-6 win.
Friday– Aaron Nola struck out 11 in 7 dominant innings. He needed it as the offense scored 3 in the first then fell mostly silent the rest of the way and the Phils recorded win #2 in the series, 4-2.
Saturday– Yes, it was Jacob deGrom but the offense disappeared again. Jake Arrieta matched deGrom through 6 innings allowing just 1 run but the offense couldn’t put anything together. Arrieta was replaced in the 7th and Luis Garcia allowed a HR and an RBI triple, extending the lead to 3-0. The only real threat the Phils put together was in the 7th when they scored and unearned run on an Odubel Herrera fielder’s choice. Herrera then proceeded to get caught in another bone-headed base-running blunder (making a turn to 2nd on a throwing error then tug out going back to first) ending the threat and ultimately, the game. Mets win 3-1.
Sunday– With a chance to win the series that they should have dominated, the Phils went into Williamsport for the Little League Classic and played like a low A team. Nick Pivetta allowed 8 hits and 6 runs in just 3.2 innings and yet again, the Phils offense was nowhere to be found. Carlos Santana provided a 2 run homer in the 6th but the game was long out of hand by that point. Mets win the game 8-2 and the series, 3-2. Yet another example of the ineptitude that has plagued this team all season (overall record be damned).
Offense– Simply put…there wasn’t any. If you took Wilson Ramos (5 XBH and 4 RBI) and Rhys Hoskins (3 HR, 5 RBI) out of the lineup, this team would have been demolished this week. They knocked in 36% of the Phils runs during the 7 game stretch. Roman Quinn continues to outplay Herrera but can’t get steady playing time. Cesar has been cold at the top of the lineup but remains there even as Gabe Kapler has FINALLY begun to tweak his lineup. This team should be dead and buried the way they have played down to their opponents (especially in the 2nd half) but the Braves have been equally inept.
Pitching– Outside of Nola and Arrieta, it was not the starting rotations finest week. Velasquez went from one of the hottest pitchers in baseball in the 2nd half over his last 5 starts to the old VV in his last 2. Pivetta was up and down in his 2 starts, Eflin was up and down…between AAA and the majors…and pitched adequately and Ranger Suarez proved again that he’s not ready for prime time just yet. With the exception of the 24-4 game that we are pretending never happened, the bullpen did it’s job yet again. The question all year has been can the pitching staff carry the offense through the whole season and more recently, into the playoffs. The last few weeks have proven that they’ll need some outside help as well because the bats are somehow getting colder as the weather get hotter.
Around the N.L. East
Braves– The Braves had 8 games at home and they didn’t go quite as they’d hoped. After a 4 game sweep of the Marlins (see how that’s done, Phils?), the Rockies came to town and swept 4 from them. With a chance to extend their lead over the Phils, the Braves were unable to do so and ultimately sit just a 1/2 game up. This week they’ll head on the road. They’ll start with 3 games against the resurgent Pirates before heading to Miami for 4 more with the Marlins. Once again, they’ll have an opportunity to create some separation at the top of the East.
Nationals– I think we’re just about ready to stick a fork in these guys. The Cards took 3 of 4 in St. Louis to start the week. Upon returning home they’d face a Marlins team who had lost 13 of 17 in August and 4 straight to the Braves and proceed to lose the 2 of 3. With 3 against the Phils in D.C and 3 against the Mets in New York, this is probably the final make or break week for the Nats. Anything short of 5 wins (probably all 3 against the Phils) would likely end any hopes in D.C.
Mets– The Mets split a 2 game set with the Orioles and then took 3 of 5 from the Phils. They are dead and buried at this point but they can at least play spoiler in the East with 7 against the Nats, 6 against the Phils and 3 against the Braves. This week starts with 4 against the Giants at home followed by 3 against the Nats. The Giants series is a wash. What they do against the Nats is all they’ll worry about this week.
Marlins– After the sweep at the hands of the Braves, they may have been the team to finally finish the Nats playoff hopes. This week, the Yankees come to South Beach for 2 games before the Braves come in for 4 more. The Phils will be hoping for better results than last week.
What a disappointment after the split with the Sox. The Phils head on the road this week and can potentially do some damage. They’ll start off in D.C. where they can likely bury the Nats for good. A sweep will rip the Nats heart out and all but put them away. Short of that, a series win is a must. Velasquez and Eflin will start the series and Nola will have a chance to put the stake in them in the finale on Thursday. Then, they’ll head up north for 3 games with the Blue Jays, another team that they SHOULD beat. Arrieta, Pivetta and Velasquez will face off against the Jays on the weekend where another series win is a must. With the Braves schedule this week, 2 series wins are a necessity. If they play down to the Jays (or to a lesser extent, the Nats), the Phils could find themselves in a hole that will be tough to dig out of. The Jays series is 1 of just 3 non-division series the Phils have remaining on their schedule. The rest of the way, will be a gauntlet through the east with the Mets and Fish trying to play spoiler and the Braves and Nats trying to make their own way to October. Let’s see if Gabe can push the right buttons this week.