On Episode 214 of “Hittin’ Season,” host John Stolnis recaps the Phillies series against the Mets and quickly looks ahead to their big upcoming series against the Braves in Atlanta. Do the Phils need to sweep the Braves to have a legitimate shot at winning the NL East, and why this weekend will be a great learning experience for the Phillies regardless of what happens. Also, Eno Sarris of The Athletic joins the show to break down why the Phils offense has struggled so much this year, and whether anything can be done to fix it for 2019. And analysis of recent comments by Matt Klentak regarding the struggles the team has had over the last six weeks of the season.
The Phillies won a series against the Mets. That was miracle No. 1. Now, they face an even bigger challenge, sweeping the Braves in a four-game series in Atlanta. That would be miracle No. 2.
After a crisp, 4-0 win against New York last night in Philly, the Phils hold a 4% chance of winning the NL East. They trail the Braves by 5.5 games in the division with seven games coming up against their divisional foes and another four road games in Colorado against the very tough Rockies in between.
That’s 5.5 games to be made up in the span of 11 games against two potential playoff opponents. You can see why their playoff odds remain so low. However, the Phillies do hold their fate mostly in their hands. If they beat the Braves in every one of their last seven appearances, it’s more than likely they will win the National League East.
I know, it’s probably not going to happen. But even if it doesn’t, this weekend series in Atlanta will be a magnificent learning experience for just about everyone on the Phils’ 40-man roster.
For Rhys Hoskins, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco, Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr, J.P. Crawford, Scott Kingery, Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Zach Eflin, Seranthony Dominguez, Hector Neris, Victor Arano, and yes, even manager Gabe Kapler, being in a Major League playoff race, in a series where their entire season hangs in the balance, will be good for them.
The 2007 and ‘08 Phillies likely don’t track down the New York Mets in both of those seasons were it not for the lessons the 2005 and ‘06 Phils learned as they struggled to win games down the stretch in their yearly frustratingly painful pushes for the NL wild card. Those Phillies teams learned through losing some tough series late in the season, learned what it takes to win big series on the road, learned what you have to do in order to overcome adversity, learned what you have to do to play well when the pressure is at its highest.
Sometimes you learn through the crucible of defeat, and win or lose this weekend in Atlanta, these 2018 Phillies could be setting themselves up for success in 2019, 2020 and beyond.
The Phillies probably aren’t going to sweep the Braves this weekend, and they probably won’t even win the series. This series will also be a terrific learning experience for the Braves, too, a preview of match-ups that could define the division for years to come.
But no matter what happens, there will be lessons learned that one would hope this young core will be able to use to help them win series like this in the future.
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