Well, the second “half” of this season could be going better.
Let’s face it: We all kind of figured some sort of reckoning was coming for the Phillies. They were in first in the East at the All-Star break in spite of themselves, in some ways, and although they have a number of players good enough to power an imperfect team into an improbable playoff berth, it never felt like the ride through the end of the season to the playoffs would be quite so easy.
I particularly don’t enjoy how well this paragraph from last marking period’s post holds up:
What’s so strange about this Phillies team is how wildly imperfect they are, despite being in a playoff position. Their defense is questionable, multiple players are playing regularly out of position, the pitching (in relief especially) is a ball of constant tension, and the offense often disappears for days at a time. If you spend too much time thinking about it, the Phillies start to look a little out of place in first.
Between then and now, the Phillies have made a series of moves to try and strengthen their position for a playoff push. For my money, they’ve all been sound decisions: Low-cost rentals that improve some areas of weakness, don’t block positions in 2019, and help clear up the impending 40-man logjam coming this winter. Good results don’t always follow good process, though, and instead of adding to their division lead, the Phillies now find themselves three games back in the East, and two games out of the second Wild Card spot. They’ll need to finish strong to get back into playoff position, but they are by no means dead in the water. Not yet.
This marking period covers games from 7/20 through 8/24. The grades are subjective.
The Good: Rhys Hoskins (July) and Roman Quinn (August)
Hoskins absolutely pulverized everything in the two weeks following the All-Star Game, but has cooled off in August.
Quinn has been part-time, but has slashed .341/.372/.512 in 43 PA, giving a much needed boost both to the Phillies’ bench depth and outfield rotation.
The Bad: Cesar Hernandez
We’re getting a taste of rookie Cesar these past six weeks. The walks are still there, but the strikeouts are piling up (30 in 143 PA to set a new career high for the season). His August (.241/.344/.361) has been...fine, if not mercurial.
As long as he keeps his OBP around .340 and up, he’s fine as a lead-off option, so it’s a bit of a stretch to say he’s been “bad.” But he’s also thrown away some ABs (see: Saturday in the 9th inning) even in the midst of good games. Something just feels a little off, here.
The Ugly: Asdrubal Cabrera and Odubel Herrera
Brace yourselves. In August:
Not good enough. Some of it’s due to correct itself (Odubel, for one, isn’t really striking out, which always leaves room for optimism in spite of the awful struggles; his .204 BABIP should come up), but it has to correct sooner than later if the team’s going to make an honest push through September.
Hitter Report Card 7/20-8/24
The Good: Aaron Nola
A steadying force. A stopper. An ace. Nola has forced his way into Cy Young Award talk with a season that’s been exceptional at every turn. He is truly an essential player for this team.
The Bad: Zach Eflin
I couldn’t help but feel for Eflin was he was optioned to the minors earlier this month as part of some roster trickery. It didn’t really feel merited at the time, but the truth is that Eflin’s second half has been a few clicks below what looked like a breakout first half. His 5.63 ERA and .871 OPS allowed - seven homers in 32 innings! - in six starts since the break have left a bruise.
The Ugly: Seranthony Dominguez
Maybe he’s gassed. Maybe the word is out and hitters can time him up. Maybe maybe maybe. It almost feels unfair to place this guy, whose emergence onto the Major League scene was so immediately impactful, down from “The Good” to this spot just a couple months later, but there’s really no avoiding it.
You can’t deny the stuff. He still hits 100 MPH with cut and 93 with his changeup (lol). But he’s only finished 10.1 innings in his 12 post-ASG appearances, walking seven and allowing three homers, including a demoralizing walk-off to Ryan Zimmerman and the Nationals last week.
Pitcher Report Card 7/20-8/24
|Enyel De Los Santos||-||Inc.||Inc.|
Now, it’s your turn! Vote below.
What grade would you give the 2018 Phillies from the All-Star break to today?
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