Drew Smyly

5 random Phillies stats you may have overlooked in 2019

5 random Phillies stats you may have overlooked in 2019

Five random Phillies stats you may have overlooked in 2019:

Surprising success swiping bags

The Phillies had the third-best stolen base percentage in the majors. They were 78 for 96 — 81.3%. The only teams with a higher success rate were the Dodgers and Cardinals.

They were middle-of-the-pack in total steals. Those 78 were two more than the league average. They didn't have anyone steal more than 15 bases but guys like Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto are instinctive baserunners who know when to pick their spots. Those two and Jean Segura were a combined 34 for 39 (87%).

Smyly quietly outperformed bigger names

Drew Smyly made his Phillies debut on July 21 and went on to post a 4.45 ERA in 12 starts.

From the date of that first start with the Phils, Smyly had a lower ERA than Trevor Bauer, Matthew Boyd and Tanner Roark. Bauer and Roark were both dealt at the trade deadline and Boyd was the subject of plenty of rumors. 

It's a good example of why you shouldn't trade off a bunch of good young pieces for two months of a non-star starting pitcher. A lot of times, someone like Smyly can match that rental player over the course of two months.

Before and after Mallee

The Phillies were hitting .245/.322/.417 as a team when they fired hitting coach John Mallee in mid-August.

They hit .249/.314/.454 the rest of the way. Not a huge difference, though they did homer in 4% of their plate appearances compared to 3.2% under Mallee, which explained the difference in slugging percentage despite the similar batting average.

Bummer to lose Dickerson

After the deadline deal to acquire Corey Dickerson, the outfielder hit .293 with an .886 OPS as a Phillie. That .886 OPS from Aug. 1-on was higher than Kris Bryant, Paul Goldschmidt, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, D.J. LeMahieu, Michael Brantley, Mike Moustakas and Matt Chapman.

Dickerson has moved on to the Marlins, which is a bummer for the Phillies but they did not have an everyday spot for him.

The 20-Club

You knew the Phillies allowed a ton of home runs. Did you know the entire starting staff — Zach Eflin, Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez — allowed 20 home runs or more? And that was despite three of those guys not even spending the full season in the rotation.

Five teams had five pitchers allow 20-plus homers last season. That had never happened before.

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With owner watching, gasping Phillies fall to .500 mark for the first time this season

With owner watching, gasping Phillies fall to .500 mark for the first time this season

WASHINGTON – The Phillies’ postseason hopes may have ended on Tuesday, but there is still intrigue in these final days of the season.

The Phillies have not had a winning season since 2011 and their chances of having one now are in serious peril after they staggered to their fifth straight loss on Wednesday night.

One day after sweeping the Phillies in a doubleheader and wrapping up a National League wild-card playoff spot, the Washington Nationals rallied to beat the Phils, 5-2. The loss dropped them to .500 for the first time this season at 79-79.

That’s right, after being above .500 all season — including 11 games over and 3 ½ games up in the NL East entering play on May 30 — the Phillies find themselves at the break-even point with just four games to play.

In other words, they need to win three of their last four games to finish with a winning record. That might seem trivial because you play for championships not simply winning records, but another losing season, in a year that started with so much hope and excitement, could hasten changes in the front office or manager’s chair.

The Phillies have lost seven of their last eight and nine of their last 12. That’s not a good look — especially with owner John Middleton taking a recent up-close look. He has been in attendance with front officials for the first four games of this series in Washington.

The Phillies have one more game to play in this series against the Nationals. Lefty Jason Vargas will go for his 100th career win against Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg on Thursday. Beating Strasburg will not be easy. The Nats are still playing with motivation as they look to sew up home-field advantage for the wild-card game next week. And Strasburg has more often than not been death on the Phillies. He is 13-2 with a 2.62 ERA in 26 career starts against the Phils. He's 17-6 with a 3.37 ERA this season. Those 17 wins are tied for the most in the NL.

The Phillies got a nice start from lefty Drew Smyly — 6 1/3 innings, two runs, no walks and 10 strikeouts.

The Nats rallied for two in the runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth against the Phillies’ bullpen to take a 5-2 lead. Defense did not help the Phils. Yan Gomes smashed a double by Rhys Hoskins (tough play, but not impossible) to fuel the Nats’ two-run seventh and Cesar Hernandez made a costly error in the two-run eighth.

Despite falling out of the playoff race the day before, manager Gabe Kapler said before the game that it was important to finish strong.

His team is not doing that.

Can it rally over the final four games and get that winning season?

Will it even matter for Kapler’s future?

“Absolutely, there’s a desire to have a winning season,” Kapler said. “It's important to me. It's important to this ball club. We're going to keep doing everything in our power to make that happen by preparing hard, by grinding every day.”

After finishing the series in Washington on Thursday afternoon, the Phillies finish with three games at home against the lowly Miami Marlins. Every team in the NL East has dominated the Marlins – except the Phillies. They are 7-9 against Miami.

Yes, the Phillies are out contention. Yes, they are stumbling to the finish line.

It’s not pretty.

But it’s still important. Evaluations are being made. Who stays? Who goes?

“I really love managing this club,” Kapler said before the game. “I love working for the people that I work for. That includes our general manager, it includes our ownership group, it includes our entire front office. And I'm not just working for them. I'm working for our player-development staff and our amateur scouting department. I work for everybody in this organization. Love that responsibility. I take it very seriously. Every single day I give every ounce of my energy to that responsibility and will continue to do that as long as I have this privilege.

“There's going to be time to reflect on my future when we get to the end of the season. Right now, my job is to continue to stay focused on managing the major-league club and devoting myself to the organization. I'm going to continue to do that through the end.”

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Indians' Shane Bieber pushes Phillies one step closer to the end

Indians' Shane Bieber pushes Phillies one step closer to the end

CLEVELAND — Time continues to run out for the Phillies.

They suffered a 5-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.

Meanwhile in Milwaukee, the Brewers hammered the Pittsburgh Pirates, 10-1.

These two outcomes dropped the Phillies five games back in the NL wild-card race with just 10 games to play. The math is against the Phillies. Their elimination number is down to five. If Milwaukee plays just .500 ball over its last eight games, the Phillies would have to go 10-0 just to tie. For a team that hasn’t won more than four games in a row all season, that’s bad news.

“We’ve got to win. Period,” Jay Bruce said. “Can’t worry about anything else. You listen. You read. You concern yourself too much about it and it doesn’t do any good. So we have to win and see what happens. There are no promises. But we know we can’t go where we want to go if we don’t win.”

The Phillies didn’t win Friday night because they did not get a good start from Drew Smyly and they did not hit Cleveland starter Shane Bieber.

The loss was the Phillies’ second in a row and it came with J.T. Realmuto, arguably the team’s MVP, getting the night off. Jean Segura also did not play because of a sore ankle.

Realmuto has carried the heaviest load of any catcher in baseball and manager Gabe Kapler decided to give him a recovery day on the opener of a crucial series. Kapler explained his reasons before the game (see story). Realmuto was not available before the game and he refused to speak with reporters after the game. He is expected to start behind the plate on Saturday night when Jason Vargas looks to stop the losing skid. Vargas has lasted just three innings in each of his last two starts.

Smyly allowed seven base runners and gave up four runs in the first two innings Friday night. He was gone after walking the first batter in the bottom of the third. The lefty appeared perturbed upon leaving the game, but it wasn’t with Kapler’s decision to pull him. The bullpen allowed just one run the rest of the way to keep the Phils in the game.

“I wasn’t upset,” Smyly said. “I was just upset with how the game went. I just wasn’t very good tonight at all. I wasn’t very good with my command and put the team in a hole.”

The Phillies got a two-run double from Maikel Franco, a late add to the starting lineup after Segura was scratched, in the fifth inning and that was the extent of their offense.

Bieber, a 24-year-old right-hander, scattered seven hits, walked none and struck out seven in 7 1/3 innings of work. He looked very much like the guy who was the MVP of the All-Star Game in July.

“He showed why he’s one of the best young pitchers in baseball,” Kapler said. “He brought his A-game tonight. He was able to execute all of his pitches, threw strikes, attacked the zone, and had some wipeout stuff below the zone.”

“He’s the true definition of a pitcher,” Bruce added. “He’s got good stuff, commands both sides of the plate and doesn’t give in. He’s very confident in every pitch he has. He did what he wanted tonight. He hit his spots, he got ahead, he finished guys with different pitches.”

Bieber, who is 15-7 with a 3.23 ERA this season, was a product of the 2016 draft. He went in the fourth round, which means there are 29 clubs out there kicking themselves for passing on him. The Phillies made four picks in that draft, including Mickey Moniak at No. 1 overall, before the Indians selected Bieber out of the University of California, Santa Barbara. The Phils selected pitcher Kevin Gowdy, infielder Cole Stobbe and pitcher Jo Jo Romero with their next three picks. Moniak played at Double A this season and Romero pitched at Double A and Triple A. Gowdy missed time recovering from Tommy John surgery and pitched at Lakewood this season. Stobbe also played there. Moniak, Stobbe and Gowdy were all chosen out of high school.

A familiar name closed the door for the Indians. Carlos Carrasco, the former Phillies prospect who was traded for Cliff Lee a decade ago, got the final four outs for the save. Carrasco is one of the game’s best inspirational stories. He was treated for leukemia this summer and is back helping the Indians in a playoff chase.

The 91-win Indians are tied with Tampa Bay for the second AL wild-card spot.

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