So far in the simulation, the Phillies have bounced around in the standings anywhere from first to third place. They haven’t really fallen back too much when they have dropped from the lofty perch, but they have benefitted from two teams falling back. In this simulation, both the Braves and Nationals have struggled to get their wheels going. Washington especially. Both teams are having some pitching problems and have inconsistent hitting and are missing their big time third baseman. Josh Donaldson, especially, has been having an MVP level season, putting up around 6 WAR already in the sim.
It’s also increasingly apparent that the Phillies, if they want to make the virtual playoffs, are going to have to win the the division. Both wild card leaders, the Cardinals and the Padres, have better records than Philadelphia right now and the inconsistent play of the Phillies doesn’t bode well.
Now, how is the lineup looking?
The offense for this simulation has actually been really good. It has undoubtedly been buoyed by the fact that Jay Bruce has thrust himself into the MVP conversation. HIs 28 home runs are fourth in baseball and he has shown no signs of slowing down.
Bryce Harper has been magnificent as well, posting a 4+ WAR season thus far and they aren’t done July. He’s on track to represent the Phillies as the starting right fielders in the simAll-Star game. He should be joined by Bruce and more than likely J.T. Realmuto, who has recovered from an extremely slow start to get his OPS up over .800. He’s one of the Phillies that is currently on fire.
Speaking of on fire, Jean Segura has had a season to remember. He’s led baseball in at bats because of his leading off for the team and he has done the most with it. His 134 hits are the most in baseball by a pretty wide margin, but he’s not even in the top 3 vote getters at third base for the All-Star game. Seems to be an oversight.
If we shift to disappointments, there isn’t a bigger one on the team than Rhys Hoskins. While he is still getting on base at a good clip, his batting average being below .195 means he just cannot play on a team that is contending for the virtual division title. He’s settled into a platoon with Jay Bruce for the time being, but with the team facing so few left handed pitchers, he’s not playing more than once or twice a week.
The pitching staff, as you may have seen if you’ve been following along, has struggled. While the bullpen hasn’t been as bad. the rotation has been the victim of inconsistent starts from more or less everyone. Spencer Howard has been a revelation for the team, but he missed a lot of time due to injury and they might get conservative with him as the season wears on.
Aaron Nola has disappointed, his ERA hovering near 5. He’s walking more than normal and allowing more home runs, something that doesn’t really occur in the real world sans the home run part. It makes you wonder about the algorithms that go into the creation of the game, having both Nola and Hoskins this bad. In real life, they have had some struggles, but usually, Nola would have figured it out by this point. Hoskins hasn’t had the type of season his 2017 debut foreshadowed, but to have an average sink below, and remain below, .200 seems uncharacteristic.
Now, during this simulation, I have striven to resist the urge to react with preposterous trades, nonsensical free agent solutions and have striven to run it as close to what I think the actual organization would do, but by this point, the team would see that the rotation would have issues that needed to be addressed. While in real life, trade talks take days, even weeks, to complete, here in OOTP land, we’re a little more fortunate in that if we make a trade proposal, it’s usually answered in a day. So, we did some research, a little bit of scouting and reached out to Boston, who is 8 games below .500 and currently out of the playoff picture, to see if they’d be interested in swinging a deal. This is what came to fruition:
The Phillies are going to get a solid starting pitching in Eduardo Rodriguez that will slot right below Howard and Nola to solidify the rotation. In getting him, the team paid a pretty steep price in prospects. Giving up Connor Seabold stings the pitching depth a bit, but he’s not a huge loss. Including Ranger Suarez was necessary to get the deal done and while he did struggle in Philadelphia before his demotion, he’s still someone who can be either a solid reliever or starter if the team needs. His loss hurts a bit.
Losing Rafael Marchan and Simon Muzziotti was a little more hurtful, but both players needed to be protected on the 40-man roster after the season and since they weren’t quite ready to join the major leagues and produce if needed, we jettisoned them. Now, two other players can be protected in case of expansion.
So, that’s where we are right now in the OOTP. How are we doing?