With 12 games to go, the Phils are definitely showing what the future holds. Sunday’s win, their fourth of the week, saw them roll out a lineup consisting entirely of players 27 years old or younger. Throughout the course of the week, the future stars (?) of the franchise were the main attraction. After splitting a four game set with the Pirates, the Phils were 2 innings shy of sweeping the Marlins before Hector Neris’ evil twin brother popped up again on Sunday afternoon. The 4-3 week was a positive step forward and with just 12 games remaining, the Phils will be looking for a few more weeks like this one to get a sign of things to come.
The Phils had an interesting week. They had an 8-0 blowout which followed a low scoring 13 inning affair in addition to 2 more 6 run outbursts. However, they were only able to put 9 runs together in their 3 losses. There were power displays (Joseph, Galvis and Herrera, to name a few) and timely hitting (AJ Ellis 2-out, bases loaded double in the first on Saturday and Jimmy Paredes walkoff on Friday) but there were also slow spurts (see the last 6 innings on Saturday). Roman Quinn made a pretty decent first impression with 6 hits in his first 4 games but has only one hit in the last 4. Jorge Alfaro hasn’t shown much at the plate in his first 4 games but we’ve seen the arm that has been much talked about. There are definitely positive notes to take out of what we’re seeing and with 12 games left and nothing else to look forward to, we’ll focus on that.
With the exception of Jerad Eickhoff having his doors blown off on Thursday, the stating pitching was pretty good this week. Jeremy Hellickson got 2 wins, including a CG, 3 hit shutout against the Marlins on Saturday. Outside of the 15-2 beating by Pittsburgh, the Phils conceded just 16 runs in the other 6 games and 2 of those losses were at the hands of the bullpen. The bullpen was not all bad though. 6 pitchers combined for 8.2 innings of 1 run ball on Friday to get the late inning win. The last 2 weeks have been positive signs for the pitching staff as a whole as we look towards 2017.
Around the N.L. East
Nationals– The Nats had another ho-hum 3-3 week that was capped off with 2 losses to the Braves. After taking 2 of 3 from the Mets to end any thought of a Mets run, the Nats appeared to go into shutdown mode. Losing 2 of 3 to the Braves did nothing to the East standings, ultimately but it has shown a level of vulnerability as they head towards the playoffs. The Nats will host the Marlins and Pirates for 3 games each as they close out their home schedule. With the division essentially locked up, they’ll look to stay focused on the playoffs but still get their players some rest over the next 2 weeks. The Cubs have a 6 game lead in the N.L. that the Braves will be hard pressed to catch, without getting real hot, real quick.
Mets– The Mets may have been eliminated from the East race (for the most part) but they focused their attention and jumped straight to the top of the Wild Card race. The week may not have started off as they’d hoped but it took a turn for the better afterwards. The Nats knocked the Mets out of the East race by taking 2 of 3 but the Twins were waiting at the back end of the week. As the Mets swept all 3 games from the worst team in baseball, they also jumped to the top of the N.L. Wild Card race and now have a 1 game lead over the Giants. The Mets will go into Atlanta for 3 and Philly for 4 this week. Both teams present opportunities for the Mets to stay where they are but based on their results in their last meeting with each team, it could drop them out of the standings as well.
Marlins– The Marlins needed to get hot. They haven’t. A 3-3 week has essentially eliminated them from the playoff race. Sitting 5 games back with 12 to go and 2 teams to jump. After taking 2 of 3 from the Braves, losing 2 of 3 to the Phils was the last thing they needed but that’s exactly what happened. They’ll be playing out the string and maybe doing a little spoiling along the way. With 3 games in Atlanta and 4 in Washington, the Fish will simply be playing to win as there isn’t a whole lot to spoil there.
Braves– The Braves lost 2 of 3 from the Marlins before heading into Washington and stealing 2 of the 3 games there. They will close out their road schedule this week as they head to New York for 3 and the Miami for 4. The Mets series will be their last chance to play spoiler. With the Mets currently leading the Wild Card race, any wins the Braves can steal could damage the Mets chances. The 4 game set with the Marlins will be nothing more than a showcase of future talent but it may be fun to watch.
The White Sox come into Citizens Bank Park for 2 games before the Phils get their chance to spoil the Mets playoff hopes. A 4 game set up in New York could be critical one way or the other for the Mets. With nothing else to play for, ruining the Mets playoff chances should be more than enough. The youth will continue to be the point of emphasis as the last 2 weeks play out. The young players will continue to get their pre-Spring Training opportunity to impress the coaching staff and management. Really though, lets sweep the Mets out of the playoffs, boys. It can’t get much better than that.