Thank God for the Braves! The Phils started the week with 2 games in Atlanta and walked away with the quick sweep. That’s 6 in a row and 11 of 13 this season. For those counting at home, that’s slightly over 25% of their season wins. Just think, at that pace, we’re the best team in baseball if we play the Braves 162 times. The week started with the “Good” Odubel Herrera. Herrera hit a double and a 2 run homer that would have impressed Jordan Spieth while Zach Eflin pitched 7 innings of 1 run ball to get the 5-2 win. Herrera followed that up with a 2 triple, 1 RBI performance to continue his dominance over the Braves. Jerad Eickhoff allowed just 2 runs in 6 2/3 innings to wrap up the road trip with a 3-2 win. Their trip home for Alumni Weekend was not quite as fun. Jacob deGrom shut the Phils offense down and the offense jumped all over Vince Velasquez early (and sent him back to the DL) and the bullpen late for the 10-0 win. The Phils offense came out early in game 2 but Nick Pivetta gave it back quickly. The game went back and forth until the 9th when Hector Neris proceeded to give up the game winning HR ending a 7-6 loss. Aaron Nola did Aaron Nola things and shut down the Mets in game 3 to give the Phils a 3-1 win. Sunday brought about the “Bad” Odubel Herrera along with a Mets offense using the long ball against Eflin. While the game was already out of hand in the 5th, Herrera made yet another base-running blunder trying to tag up to 3rd on a fly ball despite the minor fact that Freddy Galvis just happened to be standing there. Herrera extended his hitting streak to 16 in the game but that was overshadowed by another bone-headed move on the base path. The 6-2 loss ended the Phils week with a 3-3 record and got us that much closer to the end of a (Aaron Nola and Atlanta Braves excluded) dreadful season.
Herrera’s 16 game hitting streak has his average up to .286 which was almost unthinkable a few months ago. Along with Cesar Hernandez have been red hot since the break but a lack of production from the middle of the order continues to haunt them. The promotion of Rhys Hoskins and Jorge Alfaro had many fans excited however, they are still waiting on something to get excited about. Alfaro looked good in his 2 outings but Hoskins waited until Sunday to get his first and (so far) only hit of his four games. He has looked slightly over-matched but with a few games under his belt, there is nothing in his resumé that indicates he won’t figure it out. Galvis, Hernandez and Nick Williams all had good weeks to go along with Herrera but beyond that there was nothing. Maikel Franco, Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp and Hyun Soo Kim combined for a total of 8 hits despite playing a minimum of 4 games each. The influx of youth was supposed to add a charge to the offense but it looks like that may take a bit longer than anticipated.
Nola did Aaron Nola things again and Mark Leiter Jr. provided another clutch long relief effort (5 IP, 4 H, 1 R). Adam Morgan, Hoby Milner and Ricardo Pinto combined for 7.2 innings of scoreless ball out of the pen. Hector Neris might have made the “good” list if he hadn’t blown another save. After that, there was not a lot to write home (or online) about. As mentioned, Velasquez is on his way back to the DL so we’ll see what Klentak and Mackanin have in mind for filling his spot this time around.
Around the N.L. East
Nationals– The Nats may have had a 5-2 week against the Marlins and Giants but they lost where it counts, the middle of the lineup. Bryce Harper landed on a wet first base awkwardly his leg bent in ways it’s not supposed to. After taking 3 of 4 from the Marlins and extending their lead in the division, the Giants came in for a rainy weekend in baseball that ended with a Sunday doubleheader capped by a walk-off grand slam by former Phillie Howie Kendrick. The Braves have more than enough cushion in the East but what will Harper’s absence mean in the NL seedings? The Nats will welcome the Angels to town for a quick 2 game set then head out west starting with 4 in San Diego. Even without Harper, this week should allow the Nats to add a little more padding in the standings.
Marlins– The week didn’t start off very well for the Marlins as they all but eliminated any chance of hunting down the Braves. They capped the week off with a 3 game sweep of the Rockies though and Giancarlo Stanton is on fire. Stanton had 6 HR’s in the last week and has 16 since the break to lead the Majors with 40. They are likely out of the division and aren’t in a whole lot better shape as far as the Wild Card but it’s not out of reach. The Giants will come into Miami for 3 games before the Fish head to New York for 3.
Mets– The Mets split a 2 game set with the Rangers before they trounced the Phils in their 4 game set. They currently sit 2.5 back of the Marlins so their chances are that much worse than the Fish. As they start a 4 game home and home with the Yankees this week, it will be more about pride than chasing the postseason. The Marlins will come into New York for 3 after the Yankees leave where the 2 teams will be battling for the best view of the Nats.
Braves– After the sweep by the Phils the Braves went to St. Louis and lost the first 2 of a 3 game set. After 5 straight losses, the Braves finally got a win on Sunday, just their 10th since the break. The Braves will head to Colorado for 4 games to start the week before coming home to host the Reds for 3 on the weekend. Luckily, they don’t see the Phils for 2 more weeks so maybe they have a shot.
The Phils head out West this week. They’ll start the week with 3 in San Diego before heading north to San Francisco for 4. Both series are winnable if the right team shows up. Both are also quite lose-able if they don’t. With just 47 games to go, it’s all about the youth at this point. Can the young guys prove they belong or does Matt Klentak have some more work to do? We may know more in the next month and a half.