This Phillies team is pretty fun to watch, eh?
For the second game in a row, the Phillies defeated the Atlanta Braves, and this time they didn’t need extra innings to do so. Zack Wheeler, Archie Bradley, and Hector Neris absolutely baffled Atlanta, allowing only one base runner all game. They combined for 14 strikeouts, zero walks, and one hit in nine masterful innings.
Wheeler made things exciting early, when he hit 100 MPH on the radar gun in the first inning. Technically, the pitch was “only” 99.8 MPH, but so what? It’s still absolutely awesome to see Wheeler throwing with increased velocity, and hopefully he’ll find that extra .2 MPH sometime soon.
Wheeler only seemed to get better as the game went on. After he allowed a single to Travis d’Arnaud in the second inning, he retired the next seventeen batters he faced and exited after seven innings having only thrown 90 pitches. He recorded 10 strikeouts and 16 whiffs.
Archie Bradley and Hector Neris picked up right where Wheeler left off. Bradley pitched a quick eighth inning, throwing only nine pitches, seven of which were strikes. Hector’s velocity was down for the second straight game, which is mildly concerning, but he still managed to strike out the side in the ninth, so I’m not going to worry about him just yet.
The top four hitters in the Braves lineup, Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, and Marcell Ozuna, have gone a combined 3/31 with 10 strikeouts so far, and I can’t even begin to explain how good it feels to watch Phillies pitching take down this powerful Atlanta lineup. This is going to be one heck of a division race.
Silver Slugger Zack Wheeler?
I’m still in favor of the universal DH, but if we have to watch pitchers hit for one more season, this is the way to do it.
Zack Wheeler came up clutch at the plate twice today. In the fifth inning, he came up with two outs and two runners on. He hit a single off Charlie Morton to knock in the game’s first run, and then he himself scored two batters later on a Rhys Hoskins double. The next inning, he came up to the plate again with two outs, and this time he hit an RBI double to put the Phillies up 4-0. With two hits, two RBI, and a run scored, Wheeler was the team’s top offensive performer on the day.
Wheeler’s offensive prowess shouldn’t come as a total surprise. Since 2018, Zack Wheeler ranks third among pitchers in wOBA (min 100 PA). The only pitchers ahead of him are Zack Greinke (.299) who plays in the AL now, and German Marquez (.262) who plays half his games at Coors Field. With his excellent performance today, Wheeler is well on his way to becoming the last pitcher to ever win a Silver Slugger Award.
A couple less than good things from the game
I’m riding such a high from this game that I don’t really want to point out anything negative, but I have to do my due diligence here.
- Bryce got thrown out on the bases for the second game in a row. He’s an aggressive base runner and sometimes that means he’s going to get out. That’s more than okay, just so long as he manages to be safe more often than not going forward.
- Jean Segura struck out three times today, and those strikeouts came with plenty of embarrassing swings-and-misses. Jean’s strikeouts are something to keep an eye on this year, because his K% absolutely skyrocketed in 2020 (career K%: 13.7%, 2020 K%: 20.7%).
- I’m very excited that Roman Quinn is planning to bunt more this season, but it’s only a good thing if he can actually convert those bunts into hits. 0/1 so far, Roman.
Zach Eflin takes the mound tomorrow, looking to make it a back-to-back Zack attack (I guess I should say “Zac(k/h)”). He’ll face off against the young right-hander Ian Anderson. Adam Haseley is expected to return to the starting lineup.