Baseball season is long. It’s a season full of peaks and valleys, hot streaks and cold streaks. Who’s hitting, who’s slumping, who deserves more playing time, who needs to sit. All of these and more are common questions during the slog of a 162 game season. Here we’ll quickly break down some storylines and player performances to get a better picture of what is happening with the Phillies on a weekly basis.
Harper’s torrid surge has carried through the end of July and into early August. In his last seven games, Harper is hitting .412 with an eye-popping 1.497 OPS. He has nine walks to just two strikeouts over that span. His overall batting line is now up to .301/.414/.553. Harper and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are the only qualified hitters with at least a .300/.400/.500 batting line. The only thing keeping Harper from getting some MVP buzz is his curious lack of home runs, as he has just 17 in 86 games played.
The Phillies’ big trade deadline acquisition made a strong first impression. Gibson pitched 6 ⅔ innings and allowed two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out five in Pittsburgh. It was just the 33rd time this season in 105 games to that point that a Phillies pitcher went at least six innings and allowed two or less runs. It was also just the fourth time it wasn’t done by Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, or Zach Eflin and the first since Vince Velasquez on June 29th.
Bohm has picked up where he left off before he missed time on the COVID IL. Since being activated on July 23rd, Bohm is hitting .343 with five RBIs. The most encouraging thing about Bohm is that he is walking much more and striking out slightly less. His K% is still over 20% but is falling, while his walk rate jumped from 7% in June to 12.9% in July to 13.3% so far in August. He still isn’t hitting for hardly any power however, as all but one of his hits since being activated are singles.
Torreyes continued the magic carpet ride that is his season with a two-run home run on Tuesday night in Washington. It was his fifth of the season in 192 plate appearances. For comparison, Torreyes had four home runs in his previous 639 career plate appearances, and none since 2017.
Realmuto has once again shook off a brutal stretch with a big bounceback week. He’s hitting .429 over the last week with a 1.198 OPS. Realmuto has 12 RBIs on just 10 hits over that span with only three strikeouts.
The Phillies other trade deadline acquisition hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the new fanbase yet. In 2 IP in two games, Kennedy has allowed 4 total runs and two home runs. Those four runs are split evenly across the two games, giving him the same amount of games allowing at least two runs in Philadelphia as he had in Texas. Kennedy had also allowed just five total longballs in 32 appearances in Texas this season.
Velasquez has most likely made his final start as a Phillie. In five starts since the beginning of July, Velasquez has a 12.23 ERA and has pitched a total of just 17 ⅓ innings. His 5.95 is 10th worst among qualified starters who have made at least 15 starts. Chase Anderson has taken Velasquez’ spot in the rotation for now and Ranger Suarez is being stretched as a starter to possibly be the ultimate replacement.
Alvarado notched a quick and clean save on Tuesday night, but his performance of late made that seem like an anomaly. The left hander has allowed 9 runs in 9 IP since the start of July. He has walked a staggering 12 batters in those nine innings to mirror his 12 strikeouts. The Phillies will need Alvarado to improve as a late-inning option because the move of Ranger Suarez to the rotation has left him as the only left handed late-inning option.
Wheeler has hit a bit of a road bump on his otherwise incredible season. He is still pitching well overall, but he has started to underperform the lofty expectations he has set for himself. Wheeler has a 3.54 ERA in 6 starts since the beginning of July after logging a 1.44 ERA in five starts in June. But, he is still averaging just under 7 innings per start over that span, so this is really more of a nit-pick and a testament to his outstanding season.
Phillies player development
When the Phillies traded Spencer Howard to the Rangers for Kennedy and Gibson, it became the most recent glaring example of the Phillies absolute failure to develop their young players. Howard went from number one prospect, to reliever, to traded in a little over a year. Injuries and the pandemic robbed him of most of 2019 and 2020, but the Phillies refused to settle on a role for him in 2021. They bounced him from major league starter, to major league reliever, to Triple A starter, and back again.
And they apparently haven’t learned their lesson either, as the team removed Ranger Suarez from his successful closer role back into the rotation. The Phillies need to give young players a role and let them settle into it, and when/if they do, leave them in it. Luke Williams hasn’t played a full nine inning game since July 10th. Mickey Moniak has been recalled twice since July 20th but has one plate appearance to show for it. Simply put, the Phillies are not putting their young players in a position to succeed.