Phighting Their Way to the Top

Ladies and gentlemen, if you had your mind made up that this was going to be a wasted season (like yours truly) then you are missing out by not tuning in or you are sitting on the edge of your couch in pure shock. It’s early I know but this Phillies team has shown a knack for something that they haven’t done the last few years…winning. After one day of May your Phightins sit 6 games over .500 (good enough for 1st place in 3 divisions) and just 2.5 games out of first. They’ve won 6 in a row and 9 of 10.

Phils

Offense

They may not be tearing the cover off the ball but they are getting the job done. In past seasons if the pitching was holding them to 3 runs or less, it was almost a guaranteed loss. This year, the offense is doing just enough to get the job done. Is Mackanin doing a little too much to be different? Maybe. While in years past like me, you may have often found yourself wondering why they never pulled off a squeeze. Now? You wonder if Pete can actually hold himself back from doing it, especially when there is still a pretty big lack in fundamentals with some of the guys who were castoffs from elsewhere (Bourjos, Lough, Goeddel). Odubel Hererra has picked up where he left off last season…and some. Hitting .301  with a .449 OBP, his walk rate of nearly 1/game is impressive for anyone, let alone a 24 year old who was a Rule 5 last year. Freddy Galvis is starting to get a reputation for situational hitting despite his .236 average). He has come up big a few times this year, either getting the team started early or making a late splash. Let’s not forget Emmanuel Burriss…until he and his .050 average get sent far, far away.

Pitching

There isn’t a lot more to say other than WOW! This was meant to be a bunch of veterans filling gaps and mentoring young guys who are getting their feet wet in the majors. What we’ve got is a team ERA of 3.79 with 5 shutouts (including 2 against the Nats this week), 5 pitchers with an ERA of 1.80 (at least 3 appearances). Possibly the most important piece though is a bullpen that has become lights out. They have 6 wins and 9 saves and before this season, you wouldn’t have picked one of them out of a lineup. The biggest concern is that they will start to get overworked. The starters have been pretty consistent getting into quality start range. Things are looking promising for the future.

Around the N.L. East

Nationals– It was an up and down week for the Nats. After getting swept at home by the Phils, the Nats went into St. Louis and broke out some brooms of their own against the Cardinals. Sitting just 1.5 games ahead of hte Mets and 2.5 ahead of the Phils, the preseason favorite certainly aren’t running away as quickly as many had anticipated. Things don’t get any easier this week as they hang out in the Midwest for 3 against he Royals and 4 against the Cubs.

Mets– One of the few teams in the majors that are as hot as the Phils are the guys they are looking up at. Having won 8 in a row heading into Sunday, the Mets continue to gain ground on the Nationals and keep a slight edge over the Phils. The Giants ended their streak on Sunday afternoon after the Mets took the first 2 games of their series following a sweep of the Reds. While they had a few offensive outbursts this week, the Mets will go as far as their pitching takes them.

Marlins– As long as we’re talking about hot teams losing streaks on Sunday…I bring you the Miami Marlins. The Marlins similar to the Mets and Phils were also on a hot streak having won 7 straight heading into Sunday. Like the Mets and unlike the Phils, they had their streak broken by the Brewers. After a 4 game sweep over the Dodgers and taking the first 2 against the Brew Crew, the Fish got torched, 14-5. With 6 games at home this week against the D-Backs and Phils, the Marlins will be looking to make some headway in the division. Their hot streak has them sitting just 5 GB as well so the N.L. East is proving to be a lot more competitive than most expected. Except for…

Braves– Again, the word WOW comes to mind but in a totally different way. This team is just bad. The only thing worse than the 6 wins they have in 24 games is the 5, yes 5 home runs they have hit thus far (3 by Freddie Freeman). After losing 3 of 4 in a home and home with the Red Sox, they split a rain shortened series with the Cubs. With a trip to NY to face the Mets this week and a 3 game set at home with the D-backs, it’s not likely that the Braves will be starting may any better than they finished April.

The Phils start a 10 game road trip with 4 in St. Louis and 3 in Miami. The Cards have not been the same team as years past but they have always been trouble for the Phils. However, this Phillies team is not the same team as the last few years so maybe, things turn around this trip. After a pretty ugle week weather-wise, the Phils will certainly enjoy a couple days in Miami. Hopefully, along with the warm weather comes hot bats.

Things are looking up on Pattison Avenue. Hopefully, pretty soon, there will be some more teams looking up at the Phils.

 

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