The second half of the MLB season gets underway in earnest Friday, and the Phillies sit at an even 44-44. Considering the injuries the team has endured in the first half of the season, they could certainly be a lot worse. But with a healthy lineup now, they cruised into the All-Star break with seven wins in their last 10, including impressive series wins against the Cubs and Red Sox.
They’re still very much in the postseason race with 74 games to play, just 3.5 games behind the Mets for the division lead, and with six head-to-head games remaining against the division leaders. While plenty needs to happen to get the Phillies to the postseason, a good start would be a strong second half from a handful of Phillies.
The $330 Million Man has missed 20 games this season already, so having him in the lineup every day would be a great start. He is showing signs that his power is returning; four homers and four doubles in his last 11 games and a .674 SLG. But his paycheck says that one of these days, he needs to put the team on his back for a few weeks and carry the offense.
Yes, he made the All-Star squad and even went deep in the game, but his selection was an arguable one. In his last 17 games before the break, Realmuto hit .203 with one home run and five RBI. For a player who hits in the middle of the lineup, that won’t be nearly enough if this team wants to play in October.
Whether you think Nola is an ace or not, he has not pitched to the level we have seen, even earlier in the season. The consistency just isn’t there. In his last nine starts, he had three outings where he allowed a total of one run over 19 innings. And he still has a 5.55 ERA over that nine-start span. And they may not have him for this weekend’s four-game series against the Marlins, due to being placed on the COVID-related injured list.
Corner infielders are usually where a team expects a source of power. It’s just not coming from Bohm this season. Among the 20 qualified third baseman in MLB this season, Bohm ranks last in SLG (.343), last in extra-base hits (18), and 17th in home runs (6). That’s way off the numbers he posted last year, when he finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. It’s alarming, but at 24, he could turn things around quickly.
You can argue that the manager should be at the top of the list, with the questionable decisions he has made over his initial 88 games shepherding the club. But he did show a bit of the old magic in Chicago last week – he inserted Brad Miller in the lineup for Rhys Hoskins and Miller bashed three homers – and if he could start to press the right buttons in the bullpen, this team could build some momentum.
Speaking of which …
Come on! You didn’t think this was going to get a mention? They rank 24th of 30 MLB teams with a collective 4.96 ERA. That’s a sight better than last year’s historic dumpster fire of a bullpen, but it’s not enough. They have two full-time members who have ERAs less than four in newly-minted closer Ranger Suarez and Archie Bradley. The rest of them need to significantly improve, or president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski had better be working those phones to replace them with guys who can nail things down in the late innings.