What light from yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Rhys Hoskins is the sun.
The long-awaited arrival of the slugging prospect has brought some amazing things. He’s the fastest player ever to hit 10 home runs! He works incredible at-bats, even after falling behind 0-2! He doesn’t look completely lost in left field!
There are still some glaring, glaring deficiencies with this team, but Hoskins - coupled with a sizzling hot streak from Aaron Nola - has provided some respite from the bludgeoning that still occurs all too frequently.
September looms, and this September portends to be a curious one. We’ve seen and heard J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery playing multiple positions down in Lehigh Valley. Dylan Cozens has heated up a bit, too. Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr, sidelined lately by injury, are likely to return. The bullpen, in desperate need of cavalry, will be bolstered by a ton of fringe prospects on the bubble, trying to impress management one last time in 2017.
There’s no assurance that the baseball is going to be regularly exciting, or that a winning September is all that likely. But with so much about 2018 at stake, there are certainly implications abounding.
For now, though, let’s recap the marking period that encompassed the past 42 games.
All stats through Sunday, August 27 (129 team games)
The Good: Rhys Hoskins
What, you were expecting Pedro Florimon?
Look, if you haven’t started tuning in to watch this guy hit yet, start doing so. Even when he makes outs, he often does so after working a deep count or hitting a ball hard. The strikeout rate is even high-caliber. And he started a triple play with a sliding catch in the outfield on Sunday! And then hit ANOTHER HOME RUN LATER.
It’s been a honeymoon that, frankly, has us over the moon. No one saw this coming, and his immediate dividends have provided the most fun we’ve had since April’s huge drubbing of the Nationals, basically.
It doesn’t matter that his debut had to come in August. It doesn’t. Tommy Joseph couldn’t be moved, and the outfield was already crowded. He’s up and he’s hitting now, though, and he’s making this team fun to watch. I know I’m enjoying that, and I hope you are, too.
The Bad: Maikel Franco
I held out hope for as long as I could. I clung desperately to the sight of some hard-hit outs and what I thought was an improving approach coming out of the All-Star break.
The 2017 season is a lost one for Franco, who will suddenly find himself in an unsteady position for 2018. Neither Crawford nor Kingery is expected to be considered a long-term option at 3B, but if Franco cannot refine his eye and get better at identifying what’s hittable and what’s not on the outer half, he’ll find himself deposed by someone. He’s almost certainly the Phillies’ starting 3B at the outset of ‘18, and he’s still only 25, but the leash is now far shorter than anyone was hoping it’d be.
The Ugly: Tommy Joseph
With Hoskins breathing down his neck, Joseph has fallen back in the race for the starting job at first base in 2018.
While his .779 OPS at the break wasn’t amazing, it was also far from hopeless. The second half his seen that number plummet to .723, though, following Joseph’s 0-for-3 Sunday.
Joseph had so much benefit of the doubt because his rookie season was so relatively strong. He’s relapsed this season, though, both at the plate and in the field. It’s a terrible shame, honestly, because Joseph is so easy to root for, given the adversity he faced and how hard he’s worked to get to this point. This is the tough reality of baseball, though, and his place on the 2018 roster is increasingly in question.
Hitter Report Card
|Hyun Soo Kim||-||-||C-|
The Good: Aaron Nola
His last two starts notwithstanding, Nola looked great over the last two months. It’s something the rotation sorely needed: Something to build around.
With so much in flux - these guys can barely pitch five innings right now - having Nola be something resembling a rotational rock or “stopper” is the first step toward developing a new franchise identity post-rebuild.
His remaining healthy through the end of the season is all that’s left to put a cap on what’s become an encouraging lead-in to next season.
Honrable mention here to Jerad Eickhoff, who seems to be stabilizing, as well as Adam Morgan, who is reinventing himself as an impressively powerful reliever.
The Bad: The Bullpen
Relief depth is so, so important in today’s baseball. Hector Neris looks like a mostly dependable reliever; Luis Garcia and Adam Morgan are doing their part; Hoby Milner may yet be an effective option. But the rest of the young slingers still have a long, long way to go to prove themselves.
Ricardo Pinto, Drew Anderson, Jesen Therrien and Yacksel Rios all have Major League potential, but they’ve allowed 39 combined runs in 32 innings. The Major League learning curve is a steep one, and they’ll need to learn how to pitch to the most advanced hitters on the planet. It’s good to have options, but one (or all, preferably) needs to separate himself from the pack to make life just a teensy bit easier for Klentak & Co.
The Ugly: Nick Pivetta
As I was about to write this section, Rhys Hoskins homered again and I’m suddenly in no mood to dwell on bad things. Chin up, Nick. Keep at it.
Pitcher Report Card
What grade would you give the 2017 Phillies in MP3 (7/10-8/27)?
This poll is closed
As always, the grades above are gospel and definitely worth getting upset about if you disagree!