Reasons to be optimistic about the Phillies - Sept 2022 edition

The Schedule

3 @ SF, 3 vs Mia, 3 vs Was, 3@ Mia, 3@ Atl, 2 Vs TBJ, 4 vs Atl, 3 @ Cubs, 4@ Was, 3 @ Hou

12 games vs. +.500 teams, 19 games vs -.500 teams.

We got roughed up a bit by Arizona, I know - they and the Marlins have both been kind of nemeses for us in the past and we can't expect to solve both of those in the same year I guess and the Snakes are a rising young team and we caught them on a hot streak. SF plays well at home - we should look out for that. We've got to be able to beat - and sometimes sweep Miami & the Nats. We should take the Bluebirds here in Philly Houston will have clinched their division and perhaps all homefield advantage by the time we get to them and their starters will playing half games if that (just to stay warm).

31 games - I think it's possible to win twenty. We will have to sweep a series for every bad split we get but we can do it. If we win 20 thats 93 wins 69 losses.

Defense - I'm not sure whether it originates with Thomson or Dombrowski, but the Phillies seem to have got some religion around defense. The front office got us a defensive upgrade in CF in Marsh and Thomson stuck with Stott so we have a defensive upgrade at shortstop. Now with Realmuto, Segura, Stott, & Marsh we are "strong up the middle". Hoskins has been playing much better defense this year as well. Surprise! the Phillies' defense no longer sucks.

The Bench - Phillies benches in recent years have been some collection of guys were supposed to be great hitters but weren't hitting right now, and guys that were generally useful defensively but not necessarily better than the starters (Torreyes, Vierling, Miller) and the starters weren't chosen for their gloves. . The idea of "defensive replacements" late in games with a lead was not really a thing. But if Hall is called up - Hall, Stubbs, & Sosa have been known to come through with a clutch hit. And Sosa and Vierling can be defensive upgrades. The Phillies have a functional bench.

The engine: Harper, Schwarber, Hoskins, Bohm, Realmuto, Castellanos. Due to Harper's injury and the slumps of Castellanos and others, the Phillies have not really experienced a time when all six cylinders of what is potentially the most explosive hitting lineup in baseball were firing. The opportunity looks pretty good for that to happen now. As in - this week. In addition to Harper a big missing piece was Castellanos who is finally hitting like well, Nick Castellanos. If he can get over that toe thing - maybe we'll see this offense really work against major league pitching.

The bullpen - Knebel is gone, but Robertson looks better. Dominguez will be back. Coonrod has pitched well. Bellatti, Alvarado, Hand, Brogdon have all exceeded expectations this season. Eflin may soon be ready to contribute. The best news about this bullpen is that it is an ensemble and as they settle into that, no one looks Familia - there are some pitchers from 2020 & 2021 - but this is not the same bullpen we've had in recent years. (yes, I got in another memorial Famlia pun).

No holes - Are the Phillies good enough to win for the next weeks and play with the league's best?

Catcher - absolutely

1st Base - yes - not the greatest - but better defensively and good enough

Des Hitter - absolutely

Infield - yes - all three are better than average major league hitters and together they are a good enough defensive infield. ( a big improvement over Segura-Didi- and bad Bohm)

Outfield - yes - the big bats are there and Marsh makes us not so porous

Bench - yes - can provide a key hit and can provide defensive replacements

Starters - After serving us so well into last year, this may be the problem. But the five (or six) are good enough to get us there and we can find two or three among those to win in the postseason

Relievers - as good a full staff ensemble as any playoff team has if Dominguez is pitching well

Phillies teams in recent years have stumbled because the defense was bad, or the bullpen was not deep or good enough, or the bench was thin. The team was built around starting pitchers and offense, but the ball always seems to find the weak link. With the acquisition of two big bat / weak glove FAs this last offseason - it looked like more of the same could be expected. But instead we've had a miracle happen in our bullpen and we have like, above average defense - and that promise of overwhelming offense has had problems coming together. Have Castellanos, Stott, Bohm, Hoskins, Nola, the bullpen stunk it up at times? Absolutely they have. This team has fought through a COVID delayed rough start when key pitchers weren't ready for the opening bell. When Harper and Segura went out for months. When they fired the manager. When they had to play a rookie second baseman and he was fighting through learning to hit major league pitching. When Castellanos was great and Schwarber stunk and then a long time when Schwarber was really great and Castellanos really stunk. But all of those things seem behind this team, and the team seems more balanced than any in recent memory.

Want to be optimistic about the Phillies? They do too - they want to see this team work with all the pieces on the board and they are still in a position to win it all. Through all of their travails - the opportunity hasn't slipped away and they may not be anywhere near top seed for these playoff brackets, but they have a decent chance.

The biggest reason to be optimistic about the Phillies is that through all of this we've only really seen flashes of what they are capable of and it's looking like it's all coming together so we can see them be the team they can be. Much better for them to wait to get it together in the last month of the season than early and lose it. If the starting pitching can hold - this team can get to the playoff promised land and perhaps a good bit further..

I've been updating this every month - next month there will only be a few days left in the season and it should be interesting.