Mid-Season Report: 10 Takeaways from the Phillies’ First Half

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The All-Star break is upon us which means it’s time to reflect on how the Phillies have performed to this point in the season. The Phillies currently have a record of 47-43, placing them in third in the NL East. Despite being third in the division, the Phillies would currently make the playoffs as the second wild card team. They would be headed to Washington D.C. to take on the Nationals if the playoffs started today! This season has had its ups and downs. From season-ending injuries to renewed rivalries, this first half of the season has seen it all. Here’s our top ten takeaways from the Phils season thus far!

1 – Home-Field Advantage

Courtesy of Yong Kim, Philadelphia Inquirer

The 2019 Phillies have seen a lot of their success occur at Citizens Bank Park. They currently have a 27-17 record at home which is one of the best in all of baseball! This strong home record has also been in front of one of the largest crowds in all of baseball. According to ESPN, the Phillies currently rank 8th in all of baseball in terms of attendance. The Phillies have also seen a spike in their attendance numbers in comparison to last year. This season they are averaging an increase of about 8000 fans per game! This strong home record and stadium atmosphere in Philadelphia could bode well for the Phillies later on in the season, especially if they were to host the NL Wild Card game!

2 – Holes in the Starting Rotation

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The Phillies starting rotation has been one of their weak points this season. Their ace, Aaron Nola, has had his fair share of ups and downs this season. Jake Arrieta has struggled as he’s dealt with discomfort in his elbow. Zach Eflin has shown flashes of greatness this season but has been a bit inconsistent. Nonetheless, these three guys have comfortably penciled themselves into the rotation for the future. The other two spots in the rotation are where the question marks exist. The Phillies have used Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, Cole Irvin, and Enyel De Los Santos in these roles this season and none of them have been able to provide consistency to the team. As a result, the Phillies will likely look to add a starting pitcher or two in the coming weeks.

3 – J.T. Realmuto: The Lone All-Star

Courtesy of Yong Kim, Philadelphia Inquirer

Realmuto will be the Phillies lone representative at this year’s All-Star Game. Since coming over in the trade with the Marlins last offseason, Realmuto has done nothing but impress. According to Fangraphs, he currently leads the team in Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Realmuto has also benefited the Phillies on the defensive side of things. This season, Realmuto already has thrown out 26 baserunners, which is tops in all of baseball. In comparison, last season, former Phillies catcher, Jorge Alfaro, only threw out 21 baserunners over the course of the entire season! Thus far it seems as though this offseason trade was well worth it.

4 – The Injury Plague

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One of the main storylines this season for the Phillies has been their excessive amount of injuries! Throughout the season the team has seen a ton of guys head to the injured list. At one point, the Phillies had 7 relief pitchers on the IL at the same time! Some teams haven’t even had 7 players injured at the same time all season! To add to these hardships, the Phillies also lost Andrew McCutchen to a torn ACL during the first half of the season. The injury bug just hasn’t stopped biting the Phillies to this point. Despite all these injuries, the Phillies have somehow been able to fight their way to remain in playoff contention.

5 – The Jay Bruce Steal

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On June 2nd, the Phillies acquired Jay Bruce from the Mariners. In the deal, the Phillies only gave up a low level prospect and were able to convince the Mariners to take on much of Bruce’s remaining salary. At the time of the deal it didn’t seem as though it would make much of an impact. However, that quickly changed after McCutchen’s injury. Bruce quickly stepped up to fill the void left by McCutchen. Since joining the Phillies, Bruce is batting .291 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs! This large contribution has been pivotal to the Phillies’ success thus far!

6 – The Bullpen’s Continued Struggles

Courtesy of Charles Fox, Philadelphia Inquirer

Every year it seems as though the Phillies have a lackluster bullpen. The 2019 bullpen is no exception. This year the Phillies bullpen has been unable to remain consistent. Much of this issue can be attributed to the injuries they have sustained. It’s hard for a bullpen to remain consistent when 7 of its members are injured at the same time! Although injuries have plagued the bullpen, they still need to improve. The bullpen currently has a WAR of -0.3 and an ERA of 4.76! If this team wants to be a contender in October they will need to improve their bullpen in the second half!

7 – The Growth of Scott Kingery

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After his poor rookie season, many questioned Kingery’s ability to perform at the big league level. After an early stint on the injured list, Kingery has been on a tear for the Phillies. He’s currently batting .292 with 11 home runs and 27 RBIs after 218 plate appearances. How impressive are these numbers? After 218 plate appearances this season, Mike Trout was batting .288 with 12 home runs and 30 RBIs! Clearly, Scott Kingery has started to prove some of  his doubters wrong in the first half of this season!

8 – The Return of the Phillies-Mets Rivalry

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One of the more interesting storylines from this season has been the ongoing saga between the Phillies and Mets. It started back in late April when Mets reliever, Jacob Rhame, threw behind the back of Rhys Hoskins twice at the end of a blowout win for the Mets. This caused tensions to rise between the two teams. The following day, Hoskins hit a home run against Rhame, who was later suspended for his actions. Last weekend saw the return of these antics. Jake Arrieta hit 3 Mets players with pitches during his outing, including Todd Frazier, who strongly voiced his displeasure. Following the game, with tensions still running high, Arrieta commented that he’d “put a dent in [Frazier’s] skull.” The hatred between these longtime rivals is finally back! 

9 – Bryce Harper’s “Struggles”

Courtesy of Rob Chenoy, USA Today Sports

All season long, the critics of Bryce Harper have been thriving. Harper has struggled to put up MVP numbers that one would expect from his lucrative contract. However, Bryce Harper has served a vital role in the Phillies organization. He’s been the spark plug on and off the field. On the field, Harper has provided a spark through his hustle by stretching singles into doubles and making diving grabs in the field. Off the field, the addition of Harper has sparked the Phillies fan base, bringing a large amount of revenue into the team and city! Although his offensive numbers are slightly down this season, expect Harper to get hot at some point in the second half!

10 – Legitimate Playoff Contenders

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The Phillies have experienced all kinds of issues and changes during the first half of the season. They’ve had to overcome injuries, rearrange guys in the starting rotation and lineup, and have gone through their fair share of winning and losing streaks. Despite all the chaos the first half has brought to the Phillies, they still find themselves in playoff contention. If the Phillies are able to improve upon this early success in the second half, they’ll likely find themselves back in the postseason for the first time since 2011!

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