Wouldn’t it be nice if the first half of the season never happened? The Phils would be breezing along at the top of the NL fighting for home field advantage with less than 2 months to go. Instead, they are smoking hot but still 22 games under .500. The bright side is just that. They are showing us that there is a future. Ad din a few more pieced of youth. Sprinkle in a mid-tier free agent or 2 and this can be a good to possibly contending team. Maybe the 3-4 year rebuild can get done in 2. The downside to their recent upgrade from bottom dweller? That #1 pick sure would look nice.
When Zach Greinke mentions your lineup like this: “Their top five in the order are up there with best top five we have to face and you probably don’t hear people say that. It’s a tough top three.”, you know you are making some headway. After touching up the Cy Young candidate for 5 runs in the first inning and 6 overall (equaling his previous nine starts combined), things are certainly looking up offensively. The youth is coming together and the old guard is starting to show signs of life. Ryan Howard, Dom Brown and a recently returned Chase Utley are all hitting the ball well. Most importantly, though is that they are producing runs with small ball. The most glaring example came on Saturday when Odubel Herrera had an RBI single, stole second, went to third on a ground out to third, beating the throw back from first, then scoring on a wild pitch that got no farther than about 6 feet from the plate. They are playing hard and having fun. Pete Mackanin for Manager of the year voting starts now.
Quality starts. Holds. These are terms that we didn’t get to reference many times in the first half. Now they are becoming the norm. In addition to the starters pitching well, the young bullpen has been coming together and holding on to tight leads. Ken Giles is 6 for 6 in saves since Jonathan Papelbon (who only has 2) was traded away.
Around the N.L. East
Mets– As mentioned last week, the Mets made upgrade moves. The Nats did not. Their records are showing that as the Mets have jumped up and over the Nationals. Before losing 2 straight on the weekend, the Mets had won 7 straight, including a sweep of the Nats. That was good enough to leapfrog Washington and currently sit a game and a half up. With 4 games against a recently depleted Rockies team, they could gain a little bit of ground before a tough 3 game set with Pittsburgh.
Nationals– The Nats are falling fast. They had a rough week at home against the bottom half of the NL West and now they have to go on the road to the West Coast to take on the top half. With 7 games against the Dodgers and Giants, they could find themselves in a bit of a hole in the next week.
Braves– After last Sunday’s win over the Phils ended their 9 losses in 10 games skid, they went on to lose 2 of 3 to the Giants. The Marlins however were the cure for what ailed the stripped down Braves. After taking 3 of 4 in Miami, they will go on a quick jaunt to Tampa for 2 then 3 at home with the D-backs.
Phillies– Going out west to and then a stop in Milwaukee on their way back home could be just what the Phils need to get even farther out of the cellar
Marlins– The Fish have lost 6 of 7 and 13 of 16 to move to the top of the heap as far as draft selections in 2016. They were swept by the Mets then lost the first three against the Braves before finally getting a win on Sunday. With a 2 game set with Boston then 3 in St. Louis, things aren’t getting any easier.
This could be another exciting week for the Phils. They are gelling and having fun which is the first and most important step in their rebuild. A week of games against teams with similar records but not playing as well, can only help to add to the confidence.