With a week and a half left in August, another 2-4 week has put the Phils front office looking squarely at 2017. A quick “what if” regarding a potential Wild Card run was quickly erased after the Dodgers and Cards came into town and bashed their way through Citizens Bank Park for 6 days. The Dodgers and Chase Utley started things off with a 15-5 rout on Tuesday which included 4 HR’s and the Cards capped things off with a 9-0 win on Sunday with 4 more HR’s. In between, there was a lot of the same. The Phils snuck a couple wins in and almost had a 3rd if not for a blown save by Jeanmar Gomez. All in all though, the disparity between these 3 teams was on full display and Matt Klentak and Co. can now focus on September call-ups who should and will get a chance to play themselves into a roster spot in 2017.
The offense was not totally the problem this week. Except for Sunday’s shutout, they scored enough runs to win most of the games. It had it’s highlights with some big bombs by Ryan Howard (who MIGHT just crack .200 if he keeps hitting), Maikel Franco, Tommy Joseph, Aaron Altherr and others. However, they also had moments like Saturday night when they managed to load the bases with no outs and not score. Cesar Hernandez has kept up his hot 2nd half and is up to .295 and is slowly phasing Freddy Galvis out of a starting job next year. Overall, the inconsistency that showed up this week has been their downfall this season. Without the ability to score night in and night out, this team just can’t keep pace.
Jeremy Hellickson and Adam Morgan win the award for the least awful pitching performances of the week. In reality, they both had really good outings. Morgan was failed by his closer and Hellickson got the win on Saturday with 7 strong innings (raise your hand if you can remember the last time that was written about a Phils starter) but beyond that the rotation was pretty awful this week from top to bottom. The staff allowed just short of 7 runs per game over the course of the week. Keep an eye out for a 6 man rotation in the coming weeks as younger guys like Vince Velasquez and Jerad Eickhoff get closer to inning maxes and the September call-ups begin.
Around the N.L. East
Nationals– The Nats went just 4-3 during the week but with a little help, pretty much took over the East. After losing 2 of 3 to the Rockies in Colorado, they went into Atlanta and were on the verge of a sweep on Sunday until a blown lead in the 8th inning followed by a 10th inning walkoff HR by Jace Peterson. While not a lot, the Nats extended their lead over the Marlins to 9 games. This week will not be quite as easy as most expected last week to be. The week starts off with a 4 game home and home with Baltimore, who are fighting to stay in the A.L. East race, followed by 3 with the Rockies at home where they will be looking for some revenge.
Marlins– The Marlins started the week in Cincy and after winning the opener, proceeded to lose the next 3. Things got better after that. On their way home, they made a stop in Pittsburgh where they proceeded to sweep the 3 game series with the Pirates to stay on pace with the Nats. Despite keeping pace, they are just too far back and too undermanned to be able to make a run. With Kansas City and San Diego coming into town for 3 games each this week, they should have a chance at an above .500 week but they’ll need to start to put up more consistent weeks near .750 and above to make a dent in their 9 game deficit.
Mets– Stick a fork in these guys! The Mets started the week in Arizona and lost 2 of 3. Normally, that may not sound too bad until you account for the 23 runs they conceded in the losses. Then they went into San Fran and gave up 19 more in the next 2 games before taking the next two on the weekend. The Mets will make a stop in St. Louis for 3 on their way home. When they get back to New York, the Phils will be waiting for them. With both teams essentially eliminated, they’ll be able to focus on their pure hatred of each other with nothing else on the line.
Braves– Yeah, these guys are actually still playing although you’d be hard pressed to realize it after the last week or so. The Braves have lost 9 of 11 including 5 straight to the Twins and Nats before Sunday’s walkoff win. The Braves are battling the Twins down the stretch for the #1 pick in next years draft. Until then, the rules do indicate they need to continue to go out on the field through the end of September. That starts this week as they head out west for 4 against the D-backs and 3 against the Giants. it’s a pretty strong possibility that this time next week, they will be more than 30 games out in the division.
The Phils will have a pretty relaxing week. With just 5 games on the schedule, a couple off days should be nice. They’ll start things off with a 2 game set in Chicago against the White Sox. They’ll go into New York for 3 with the Mets next weekend. With a week and a half until September, the first round of call-ups are nearing and as the minor league playoffs start in early September. As the R-Phils and Ironpigs both head into the playoffs, we may have to wait a little while to see some of the names that most fans are looking forward to but expect to see a lot of them when they get here. For at least a few more weeks, we’ll continue with the names we’ve seen on the lineup card most of this year.