The return of Martin's reason's to be optimistic about the Phillies April 23 edition

We have a lot of losses, this is true. We not only lost games - we lost people - Hoskins, Hall, Suarez - these are all key players. But there are reasons to be optimistic.

Brandon Marsh - 2 HR 1.112 OPS (.819 in the last 7 days, .773 for Phillies in 2022). 3rd highest OPS among anyone & currently leading MLB CFers in just about every category (except homers - that belongs to Judge). Rememeber the Phillies never-ending search for a CFer? It's over. Not only is this guy hitting, but instead of highlight reel defense - we are getting solid defense.

Edmundo Sosa - .978 OPS (1.364 in the last 7 days, .937 for the Phillies in 2022) Finally starting semi-regularly at 3rd in the #freesosa Lineup.

Alec Bohm - 3 HR .943 OPS (.837 in the last 7 days, .713 in 2022) hitting with more confidence, playing 3rd & 1st with more confidence. Yes, Marsh & Sosa may regress but this may be where Bohm lives now. .900 OPS Way is a fine address for him. I am a Bohm doubter no more.

Bryson Stott - .845 OPS (.743 in the last 7 days, .735 2nd half 2022) in the 2nd half of his rookie year, Stott showed he could hit as well as Segura's career & projected OPS and play defense as well. Now there is little doubt he is a better defensive second baseman and may have his eye on Trea Turner's career OPS (not that he's there yet).

Nick Castellanos - .811 OPS. (2022 to May 15th .808) I don't care if he hits a home run if he can keep hitting above .800 OPS. Defense is there now too. This is the Castellanos we saw until mid-May of 2022 and whatever started the mega-slump of 2022 (I think it was the HBP). Getting thrown out of a game is good, Castellanos is playing with more commitment and passion now (and less pain maybe?).

Kyle Schwarber - .777 OPS 4 HRs (.907 in the last 7 days) There are signs the bear is waking. In 2022 Schwarber had an OPS of .721 & only 11 homers through the end of May before exploding in June with 11 homers & an OPS over 1. He's a slow waking bear - it'll happen.

Trea Turner .743 (.712 last 7 days, .809 2022) & JT Realmuto .741 (.862 last 7d, .820 2022). These guys have been hitting, they only look a little dim because of how brightly their younger counterparts have been shining. We can expect more from them, but it's not like they are awful (Turner's been in a slump the last few days).

So if all of this is going right with the offense (5th in the MLB by OPS) why has the team been doing so much losing?

A lot of this is due to pitching (5th worst by WHIP in the MLB) and it's hard to win with bad pitching. But there is some cause to believe our pitching will improve.

There are two problems with our pitching (in particular starters) that will correct over time

1) starters really didn't stretched out properly - they stretched out on the back fields in simulated games instead of in spring training games and that didn't seem to have worked

2) although they worked with the pitch clock they didn't work with our catchers and the pitch clock and that matters - both of our catchers were in the WBC & Stubbs got hurt. Adjusting to the clock takes both the pitcher and catcher working together to develop a new pattern. It didn't happen. Both of these factors were unique to the '23 Phillies (most teams had their catchers).

Matt Strahm (3G 2.31 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 15 Ks) & Bailey Falter (4G, 4.50 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 12 Ks) both have stepped up to be good starters for us. Odds are that at least one will continue at this level. Taijuan Walker (3G, 4.20 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 14 Ks) Walker's career numbers are 3.89 ERA & 1.229 WHIP. He got a slow start, didn't make that much spring training because of the WBC, but Walker is on track to be the 4th starter he's supposed to be.

Zach Wheeler (4G 4.79 ERA 1.45 WHIP 23 Ks) & Aaron Nola (4G 5.91 ERA 1.45 WHIP 19 Ks) Except for the one home run yesterday, Wheeler's last three starts have been pretty good (if short). Nola's last start (vs. the Reds) was promising, and he's been pitching a little longer (though maybe that hasn't resulted in better results). Both had meltdowns in their first starts, but now three decent appearances.

Ranger Suarez will ride again - and soon.

The bullpen has been among the worst two or three in the major leagues - the stats are depressing - you don't want to see them. but....

Jose Alvarado - 7G 1.23 ERA .55 WHIP this guy is amazing. I don't want to see what our pitching numbers would look like without him. He should already be considered for the All-star game. He may regress, but still have a great season.

Soto (9G, 4.7 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) Kimbrel (8G, 6.43 ERA, 1.86 WHIP) & Dominguez (8G, 10.8 ERA, 2.25 WHIP) This is not what we expected from this group - but each has had some signs of finding it. Yesterday was a good day for all three of them. All three had a terrible first road trip (Texas & NYY) But in his last six games Soto has given up only 2 walks and no hits. Kimbrel has been pretty good in his last four appearances, striking out six over 3.2 IP. Dominguez has been less "on-track" but shown a couple of decent outings.

Bellatti (9G, 5.63 ERA, 1.63 WHIP 10Ks) & Brogdon (8G, 3.24 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 6Ks) For the first handful of games of the season Bellatti and Alvarado were the only thing working and Bellatti pitched in all of them and gave up only 2 hits in 6 IP. Lately he's hit some rough spots but he's maybe been overworked. Brogdon has had fewer highs and lows but these guys are showing what they can do for us and that is being maybe the best 5 & 6 in the majors.

The rescuer: Harper is coming and soon. I know everybody says this is a big deal. But it is. The Phillies are 23rd in home runs and we all know they have hit poorly with runners in scoring position. These are Harper's specialties and we need him back to be the team we can be. with Harper this ship can be righted and the Phillies can get back into the playoffs and challenge in October/November again. Without him - there is little chance.