After a sizzling start to the week with a 2 game sweep of the White Sox, the Phils had an opportunity to ruin the Mets season but the bullpen was, well…bull-something else. The Phils had leads, some bigger than others in each of the first three games and kept coughing them up…sometimes twice. The end result was winning just one of the 4 games, culminating in a 17-0 destruction, mostly at the hands of the bullpen once again. The 3-3 week looked a lot uglier than the final numbers would dictate though. If there is any money to be spent in the offseason, it’s a safe bet to think a good chunk needs to go to the bullpen.
Offense– Taking the final game out of the equation, this was a pretty stellar week offensively. The Phils scored 38 runs over the first 5 games. It appears they decided it wasn’t even worth it to score on Sunday since the pen would give it up anyway. Maikel Franco was hot with HR’s in each of the first 3 games with the Mets, bringing his total to 25 on the season. Cesar Hernandez added 8 more hits during the week as did Odubel Herrera. The bats have definitely heated up in September with 34 doubles, 5 triples and 24 HR’s. 6 players hit over .300 during the month with Franco just behind at .297. Tommy Joseph has done everything in his power to earn a role on this team next year. Hitting .309 with 4 doubles and 4 HR’s in September, things are looking up for Joseph. The one name we’d have like to see put up a better line this week was the Big Piece. Ryan Howard begins his final week as a Phillie this week. He’ll get one more chance in front of the home crowd this weekend. Here’s hoping that he can go out with a bang.
Pitching– With a 7.51 ERA in the last week and only 18 of 52 runs charged to the starters, I think that gives you a pretty good idea what my thoughts are here. If not for this week, the month of September wasn’t that bad but since this week did, in fact, happen here we are. Most knew that Jeanmar Gomez was not the closer of the future but he pretty much solidified that for himself this week. He was not the lone culprit though. 17 pitchers took the mound for the Phils this week and 7 had ERA’s over 10.00. They gave up 12 HR’s and walked 32 compared to just 52 strikeouts. If things go the way they should, it’s highly unlikely most of these bullpen pieces are on the big league roster next year. With just one week to go, here’s hoping that they can piece together one solid week to end 2016 in style.
Around the N.L. East
Nationals– The one win the Phils did get over the Mets helped the Nats finally clinch the East. After another ho-hum 3-3 week, they needed the help. The Marlins did their piece in trying to spoil things by taking 2 of 3 at home. the Nats then went into Pittsburgh and lost the opener before sweeping the last 2 games of the weekend series. With the division locked up and no chance of catching the Cubs, the Nats will likely spend the final week balancing resting players and keeping them in “playing shape”. They’ll also likely tinker with their rotation to set it up for the playoff run. The biggest advantage they will have s that they will spend the final 7 days playing at home before getting their first round series at home as well. That’s a lot of home cooking that will set them up nicely. That said, they have only one 1 more game at home than on the road this season (albeit with 7 fewer games). They will start the game with 4 against Arizona before the Marlins come in to close out the season.
Mets– The Mets start the final week of the season with a 1 game lead in the Wild Card standings but things could have been very different if it weren’t for the Phils bullpen. The Braves came in looking to play spoiler and did just that sweeping the 3 game set before the Phils came into town. In game one, the Phils had multiple leads including 2-run leads in both the 9th and 11th innings and gave them both up for the loss. Then Jeremy Hellickson pitched well enough to win for 4+ innings before Mackanin left him in just long enough to concede 6 runs in the 5th and the Mets didn’t look back. On Saturday, the Mets nearly overcame a 10 run deficit before falling just short. The Mets stopped playing games on Sunday as they exploded for 17 runs. This week could go a few different ways. The Mets will face the Marlins and Phils for 3 each. There is no telling how the Marlins will come out this week after the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez. With the final series being the Phils final home series, and final series for Ryan Howard, emotions could be high in both series and things could play out in a number of ways. The Mets know they need to win these games and that is their sole focus while their opponents could have some distractions looming over them.
Marlins– Due to the tragic loss of Fernandez, the Marlins played just 6 of their 7 scheduled games. Sunday’s game was cancelled after the new of Fernandez’ passing in a boat accident early Sunday morning. After taking 2 of 3 from the Nationals and losing 2 of the first 3 to the Braves, the Fish were all but eliminated from the Wild Card race. Now, they play their final week of games with extremely heavy hearts. It will be interesting to see how they manage their grief. They could channel that emotion into spoiling the Mets season in their first series of the week or it could overtake them. They’ll finish out the regular season against the Nationals who aren’t playing for much at this point. It’s been an up and down season for the Marlins and they’re biggest low came in the final week. While there is little hope for the playoffs, they could finish on one of their bigger highs if they can do some spoiling.
Braves– In the 2nd half of the season, the Braves have shown that they will look to get back to their winning ways in 2017. The youth movement has started and it’s looked good so far. The Braves lost their match up with the Marlins on Saturday before Sunday’s cancellation. That loss, however, came on the heels of a 7 game win streak over the Nats, Mets and Marlins. After sweeping the Mets to start the week, the only thing that kept the Mets in the Wild Card race was the Phils bullpen (did I mention they were bad?). With the Phils and Detroit coming into town for 3 games each, the Braves will look to finish off the season in style. The 2nd half of the season has shown signs of significant improvement. With the youth coming into their own, it should be interesting to see what they can do in 2017.
And so begins the final week of Ryan Howard’s Phillies career (maybe his career altogether?). We all saw what was and we all know what could have been. Was it the Achilles injury? Was it the inability to adapt to pitchers when they adapted to him? Likely, it was a little of both but either way, it was fun to watch, especially the first half. Pete Mackanin is likely to give him plenty of playing time this week, especially in his final home series this weekend. Who knows, maybe we’ll all be treated to one or two more of those majestic Howard bombs as he takes his final bow .
As for the rest of the team, they’ve got 6 games left and some will take their final stab at showing what they have for next year. The Phils will start the week in Atlanta with not a lot to play for except pride. The Braves have quietly snuck up within 7 games of the Phils in the win column after their very different starts to the season. Finally, things will wrap up in Citizens Bank Park against the Mets. While it’s been a crazy season, nothing would make the Phils and their fans happier than possibly knocking the Mets right out of the playoffs on the final weekend. There will be other teams that have a say in that as well (Marlins, Giants and Cardinals, to be exact) but if the opportunity presents itself for the Phils, they need to take advantage. It’ll be an interesting week for sure but if you can avoid it, you may not want to watch after the 6th inning or so.