The 2018 Major League Baseball season has seen the Philadelphia Phillies become one of its feel good stories. After five consecutive losing seasons the Phillies have turned things around this year which saw them become contenders in the National League East. The Phillies have even been in first place in the N.L. East for a portion of this season which has given their fan base hope that brighter days are around the corner. Phillies management has bought into it as well as the team’s president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail became a buyer in order to help Philadelphia’s playoff push. The Phillies picked up veteran players such as infielder Asrubal Cabrera from the New York Mets and first baseman Justin Bour from the Miami Marlins. And the moves which were made by the Phillies had them looking good as their record at the end of August was 72-62, but the month of September has been a different animal altogether.
So far this month the Phillies record is just 6-18 which includes them losing their last eight contests. And to add to those woes, the Phillies have lost series to the Marlins, Mets, and Washington Nationals who all trail them in the standings in the National League East. This rough stretch would knock Philadelphia out of contention for the N.L. East Title as they would eventually succumb to the Atlanta who would win the division. And as the Phillies fell out of contention to win the N.L. East, the same could be said about their chances as a wild card as something that was so good last month has now gotten real bad.
First year Phillies manager Gabe Kapler had been pushing the right buttons for most of the with his sabermetrics, while relying on the young talent on his team; however those youngsters have now hit the wall.
Outfielder Rhys Hoskins was lighting it up earlier this summer which included him batting .276 with 7 home runs and 20 runs batted in for the month of July. But Hoskins’ production has dipped as he only batted .216 in August, while he’s only hitting .202 this month with 6 homers. This is Hoskins’ first full season in the Majors, and he appears to have hit the wall both physically and mentally.
Outfielder Odubel Herrera has been a spark plug for the Phillies offense all season, but as of late he has struggled to get on base. In August, Herrera was only able to have an on-base percentage of .247, while this month it is at .250. Herrera’s presence is important on the base paths when the likes of Hoskins and first baseman Carlos Santana are at the plate being that the power bats need runners on board.
Starting pitcher Aaron Nola has proven himself to be a front line starter and his 16-6 record this season as well as his 2.45 earned run average have put him in the conversation to win the National League’s Cy Young Award. But in fivee starts this month Nola has gotten rocked as he is only 1-3 with an earned run average of 4.60 with just two quality starts.
And as the productivity of young studs such as Hoskins, Herrera, and Nola has waned, it is a glimpse as to why things have begun to go south for Philadelphia, but all is not lost.
This Phillies team has shown that they are one or two years ahead of schedule as they were not expected to show this much improvement, but they have. The additions of veteran starting pitcher Jake Arrieta and infielder Carlos Santana have given this team some life as their experience is helping mold some of the youngsters in Philadelphia’s clubhouse. And as this Phillies team has gotten a glimpse of what it is like to contend, they are in a prime position to be much better next season.
Currently the Phillies only have $68.9 million to player salaries for next season as they are in prime position to sign either Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, or Houston Astros starting Gerrit Cole as these players are each expected to garner big bucks on the free agent market this winter as one of these players could be the addition that Philadelphia needs to get them over the hump.
And with so many games versus the Braves and Colorado Rockies who are each leading their respective divisions coming down the stretch, the deck was stacked against the Phillies to reach the playoffs, but they still have to be happy with what they’ve been able to accomplish this year. Philadelphia has finished no higher than fourth in the National League during the last five years as this turnaround has given them something to build off of. And with so many youngsters on this team who are only beginning to tap into their potential, this team is setting up to be a force in the N.L. just like they were in the late 2000’s.