The Philadelphia Phillies are fresh off a sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves and have seen their Wild Card cushion shrink to two games plus a tiebreaker. Some of their biggest bats have suddenly gone quiet. Bryce Harper is hitting .157 with a .605 OPS in September. Kyle Schwarber has struggled since about midway through August, posting a .222/.305/.419 stat line with a strikeout percentage just under 30% over his last 30 games. J.T. Realmuto has been the second half hero, but he too had a rough road trip, going 3-23 in six games.
However, the Phillies do have a ray of hope. Their collection of players aged 25 and younger, a.k.a. “Phillies Day Care”, has provided a spark all season and is leading the way so far in September.
There is no one on the Phillies who is outperforming their season stat line quite like Bryson Stott. Stott is the Phillies leading hitter in September, with a .319 average through 19 games. His September wRC+ (weighted runs created) of 126 is second only to Realmuto’s 146 wRC+. For the season, Stott is hitting .280 with an .893 OPS and 2 HRs in situations deemed “high leverage” by Fangraphs from the seventh inning on. His ability to work counts and make contact should have him in line for a move to the leadoff spot if Schwarber continues to struggle.
Unlike Stott, Maton has only played in 26 games this season. But he too has collected big hits and helped the Phillies win crucial games down the stretch. His walk-off single against the Reds saved the Phillies from an embarrassing loss and kept alive what ultimately became a 6-game winning streak. Maton’s second of two home runs in a week against NL Cy Young favorite Sandy Alcantara helped the Phillies steal a game in Miami. In just 10 games played and 27 plate appearances in September, Maton has a 1.066 OPS and 3 home runs.
The newest member of the day care is seeing adjustments pay off. Marsh is the Phillies second leading hitter behind Stott in batting average in September with a .282 mark. He has four extra base hits in 12 games including a home run. Since being traded to the Phillies at the deadline, Marsh is hitting .284 with a .751 OPS in 28 games. He has noticeably cut down on his leg kick and changed his stride and stance at the plate, and it has resulted in the best contact ratings of his career and a reduced strikeout rate of 29.7% which is down from 36.2% in 93 games with the Angels.
Coming down the stretch
The Phillies big bats of Harper, Schwarber, and Realmuto will need to wake up if they want to hold off the Brewers. They need to perform at or above their “baseball card” averages in the final 16 games as the Phillies look to weather a tough schedule and multiple away games while injuries start to mount. Maybe they can look to their younger counterparts for help getting a spark.