7 games, 23 runs scored. Often times that may not seem too bad. When you break it down, there are more issues than at first glance. In a week where the Phils lost 2 of 3 to the Marlins and split a 4 game series with the Braves, they were shut out once and scored 1 run 3 times. They also had a 4-0 win in addition to games where they put up 7 and 9 respectively. This inconsistency has been their biggest downfall throughout the summer and they summed it all up in one week.
There were highs and lows this week but the lowest of the low had to be Odubel Herrera. Herrera has led the team in hitting virtually the whole season but has been in such a funk since before the All-Star break that Cesar Hernandez (.289) has now overtaken in. Now hitting just .283, Herrera is hitting just .226 in July. Herenandez, on the other hand is hitting .337 in July earning himself a spot at the top of the lineup. In addition to average, his plate discipline has improved as well. That was on display as he walked 8 times in the Braves series. Tommy Joseph was also hit in July with a .328 average and 6 HR’s. This makes Pete Mackanin’s decision to keep rotating Ryan Howard and his .168 average into the lineup as much as he has lately. Even Aaron Altherr jumped into the up and down routine. Coming off an injury that held him out the entire first half, Altherr made his debut in Atlanta and came out firing with a 3 for 4 debut, including his first HR of the season. As for the rest of the series? 0-9 with 2 walks. Apparently, this team is contagious.
Typically, when you hold teams to 2 runs or less, you should win the game. The Phils did that 3 times this week and won just one of them. For the most part, this week was not the fault of the pitching staff. Not to say they didn’t have their down moments as well. For each Jeremy Hellickson 6 inning, no run gems, there was a Zach Eflin, 5 inning, 7 run fiasco. With a west coast trip upcoming and some big time offenses waiting, things could get very interesting especially if the rotation gets flipped. As the trade deadline looms on Monday, both Hellickson and Vince Velasquez (as well as a few relievers) names have come up repeatedly in rumors. Hellickson has been the veteran leadership this young rotation needed. If he goes, that rotation gets even younger and loses that presence. Bob McClure will certainly start earning his paycheck at that point.
Around the N.L. East (a.k.a. The League No One Wants to Win)
Nationals– This team has had every opportunity to run away with this division and haven’t done so. They’ve also had multiple chances to lose the lead but neither the Marlins or Mets have taken those opportunities. After splitting a 2 game set in Cleveland, the Nats went out west and took the first 2 of a four game set with the Giants. The weekend was not as positive as the 3 games leading up to it. Losing the last 2 games in the Giants series, cost them a half game in the standings. As a totally “non-biased” outsider, this writer would have to say their biggest win of the week was trading for Mark Melancon. OK, getting Melancon when Aroldis Chapman was there for the taking may not seem like a huge win but when the trade means Jonathon Papelbon being demoted…WIN! The Nats will travel to Arizona for 3 on their way back home where the Giants will be waiting for them again for 3 more.
Marlins– After losing the series opener to the Phils, the Marlins then outscored them 16-1 over the next 2. When the Card came into town, they stole that swagger quickly taking the first 2 of a 4 game series. They ended the week on a high note though with a blowout 11-0 victory on Saturday and a walk off triple on Sunday. The 4 wins helped them gain an extra 1/2 game and they now sit just 4 games behind the Nats. Will they be able to make a move to give them the extra help they need? Trade or no trade, the week starts off on a tough note as they head into Chicago for 3 with the Cubs. They’ll make another trip to visit the Rockies over the weekend with the hopes of gaining more ground on the Nats.
Mets– If the Nats and Marlins didn’t have good weeks, the Mets certainly had a bad one. After losing 2 of 3 to the Cardinals and 3 of 4 to the Rockies, the Mets dropped a game and a half in the standings and are sitting 6.5 games back. The offense scored just 10 runs in the 5 losses. If the Mets want to stay in the chase, expect them to look for a deal to get another bat or 2 at the deadline.
Braves– The week started and ended pretty well for the Braves. After a 2 game sweep in Minnesota, the Braves went home and split a 4 game set with the Phils. Their pitching staff were the stars of the week…and the goats. The Braves 4 wins on the week were all by 1 or 2 runs showing the staff can keep things close. On the other end, however their 3 losses came by conceding an average of 8+ runs per game. The Braves will take on the Pirates at home for 3 games before going on the road. Their first trip will lead them into St. Louis for 3. Being as far out of things as they are, Monday will likely be the busiest day for them however as other teams calling for any available pieces to help in a playoff push.
The Phils will play their next 15 games against the N.L. West. That stretch starts Tuesday as the Giants come into CBP for 3. After the Giants leave town, the Phils will head out west for a 3 game set with the Padres. The Giants will certainly be a tough matchup. If they can survive that, the Padres should offer a more welcome, but still tough, matchup.
All eyes will be on Matt Klentak this week. With playoff teams calling, will he make a deal that will continue the teams future growth? Or will he decide that the offers aren’t making the team better and stay pat? Next week, this article may be the same but very likely, the team won’t be.