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.
The Phillies have asked so much of Ranger Suarez this season. He stepped in as closer despite never doing it before and then went back into the rotation when it was desperately needed. The Phillies once more put a difficult task ahead of him. They needed him to give them length in one of the most important games of the season because their bullpen was gassed and they had a bullpen game the next day. Suarez responded with the best start of his career, a complete game shutout with four hits and seven strikeouts on just 97 pitches.
Wheeler stepped up to start the biggest game of the season in Atlanta and delivered seven innings of two run ball. His team didn’t score for him, but Wheeler did his job. After scuffling a bit in August (4.81 ERA in 6 starts) Wheeler has returned to form in September with a 1.47 ERA across five starts.
Most will probably remember Torreyes as having a better season than he has. His .645 OPS isn’t ranks 228th out of 253 MLB hitters with at least 300 plate appearances. There’s no denying however that Torreyes has had a major impact on the Phillies season. He once again delivered a clutch hit on Thursday with a three-run pinch-hit home run. The homer gave the Phillies the lead and capped off a rally that erased a 6-0 deficit to the Pirates.
Harper’s superman period seems to have ended, but he is still playing at a high level. He doesn’t have the quantity of hits he had previously as he’s getting much less to hit, but he is still making an impact. Harper has nine extra base hits in his last 13 games despite being walked 22 times, including five times intentionally, over that span.
Phillies as N.L. East Winners
The Phillies needed to go down to Atlanta and essentially sweep the Braves on the road for the first time since 2014 to keep their postseason hopes alive. They started that critical series with a 2-1 loss and continued a streak of 17 straight innings without a run that started with a shutout by the Pirates. The Phillies offense once again abandoned them at their most dire hour.
Unlike Suarez and Wheeler, Nola took the mound in a critical start and gave up six runs to the Pirates. The Phillies ended up winning the game, but once again Nola had a disaster of a start in September. He might be tired of hearing about the narrative but he hasn’t done anything to silence it. Nola will take the mound on Wednesday in Atlanta in a must-win game and could maybe find some redemption.
Girardi’s lineups have been puzzling all season, but they have been devoid of much sense in this stretch run. Matt Vierling was benched after a 2-3 game that included his first career home run. Didi Gregorious continues to start despite being wholly ineffective and even gets the start against left hander Max Fried in Atlanta. Gregorious is 0-7 against Fried with four strikeouts and is slashing .155/.260/.298 in 100 plate appearances against lefties this season.
The New York Mets
The Good News:
I have seen this statistic in several places today, and there is no better summation of the 2021 Mets:— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 27, 2021
No team in Major League history has spent as much time (103 days) in first place and finished with a losing record. The Mets are mathematically guaranteed to become the first.
The Bad News: The Phillies need this team to take at least 3 of 4 from the Braves on the road to make the Postseason.