Lessons learned from the Philadelphia Phillies sweep of the Atlanta Braves


Jun 18, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (26) celebrates scoring with starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez (27) in the fourth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

I predicted that this series would end in a sweep. I was correct, but I picked the wrong team to emerge victorious.

I don’t know if I underestimated the Phillies as much as I overestimated the Braves. Sure, it’s possible that they are just having a bad week, but they were playing shaky baseball before the Phillies came to town. I think these games just proved that there may be some real problems down in Atlanta.

That said, we did learn a few things about the Phillies these past three games:

Roberto Hernandez is a winner, Cole Hamels is not

Roberto Hernandez: Winner. Image Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Hernandez did exactly what a starting pitcher is supposed to do: Give up fewer runs than the opposition.

Sure, it wasn’t the finest performance a pitcher has ever delivered, and there were times when it appeared that Hernandez might (literally) meltdown, but he hung in there and for his effort, he received what Cole Hamels did not on Monday night: a win.

If Hamels was truly elite, he would have realized that he needed to pitch a complete game shutout in order to secure a victory. Instead, he left things up to the bullpen, and when you do that, sometimes bad things happen.

Does this mean that Hernandez is more elite than Hamels is? We’ll leave that one to the history books.

Ryan Howard will be very sad to see Turner Field close

Even though the stadium just opened in 1997, the Braves are soon going to be moving out of Turner Field and into a new stadium in the suburbs. Because apparently a study showed that the reason they don’t draw is because all of the REAL fans live north of the city.

That will be a sad day for Ryan Howard who has thrived at Turner Field over the years. This series was no exception as he went 5-13 with four walks, two home runs, and six RBI. Those numbers are in line with his career numbers at Turner: In 72 career games at the park, Howard has 20 home runs and an OPS of .937.

The good news for Howard is that the Phillies are headed to St. Louis next, and he’s also traditionally done well at Busch Stadium.

The Phillies bench is becoming an asset

Wil Nieves. Image Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in the season, if the Phillies were forced to start three of their backups, it was a given that the offense would struggle. But lately, the reserves have actually contributed in a positive manner.

On Wednesday, Wil Nieves, John Mayberry, Reid Brignac, and Cesar Hernandez were all in the starting lineup. That foursome combined to go 7-20 with four RBIs.

If they can continue to produce like that, Ryne Sandberg may feel comfortable giving veterans like Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins some more much-needed rest days.

It will mean little unless they continue to win

Yes, it’s always nice to beat the Braves. But it won’t mean a thing if they fall flat on their faces against the Cardinals.

If the Phillies want to show that this was anything more than taking advantage of a slumping team, they need to continue their strong play when they visit Busch Stadium.

If they can do that, maybe we can start to believe that this team is capable of finding a way out of the sizeable hole they’ve dug for themselves this season.