The Philadelphia Phillies are set to open the traditional second half of the MLB season as they return this weekend from the All-Star break.
The Phillies wild, rollercoaster first half ended with the team posting a 42-48 record. Tonight the local version of the Boys of Summer begin their unofficial second half of the season as they host the defending NL Champion Mets, who are in town for a three-game series.
The Fightin’ Phils went 3-3 against the division rival Mets over two series in the first half, but were outscored 29-16 in those games.
As you would expect from a young, developing team, the first half was streaky and inconsistent for the Fightins. The Phillies have won as many as six in a row and lost as many as nine straight. Unfortunately, the main theme of the first half was the club’s inability to plate runs.
Manager Pete Mackanin has tried numerous lineups looking for the right combination. Perhaps he has finally found it.
The Phillies are 12-7 over their last 19 games, but even more importantly they club has averaged 5.74 runs per game. Over their first 71 games, the Phils averaged a meager 3.08 RPG.
So what can we expect from the Phillies in the second half? Can they contend for a Wild Card spot?
Currently the Phils are six games out of the final NL Wildcard, and are only chasing four teams. It’s not outlandish to think the Phils can get hot and make the playoffs based solely on those numbers.
Many fans and writers believe the Phils are not yet a playoff team, myself included. However, If the Phillies continue putting up crooked numbers and winning this month, is it possible GM Matt Klentak will look to add a piece or two at the deadline to give the team a fighting chance at a playoff berth?
The next 13 games will be telling, as all of those are against teams ahead of the Phillies in that Wildcard race. A strong stretch of baseball these next two weeks will most likely determine if they are buyers or sellers at the deadline.
After finishing with MLB’s worst record in 2015 few people thought the Phils had a prayer to play in the postseason this year. In my opinion it’s still a long shot, but the Phils can’t be dismissed when they’re only six games out of contention.
More from That Balls Outta Here
- How will Rob Thomson manage the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen in 2023?
- How Phillies’ Ranger Suárez is set to build on 2022 postseason dominance
- What can Philadelphia Phillies expect from Bryson Stott in 2023?
- 3 Reasons to get excited for Phillies’ Craig Kimbrel signing
- 11 Free-agent deals the Philadelphia Phillies wish fell through
Since coming off the DL with an oblique strain Cody Asche has hit better, and with more power than at any time in his career. The Phils would like to get a good read on Asche the rest of the year. With close to 1,200 PA’s it is certainly time to find out if he’s part of the future.
On June 12th, RF Peter Bourjos was slashing .197/.228/.283. Since crossing the Mendoza Line on June 13th, Bourjos has been on a tear with a triple slash .412/.457/1.127 line. If the Phils are in contention they have to stick with Bourjos – at least unless or until he cools off.
If the Phils drop out of contention then Bourjos is likely to be replaced by a future Phillie. It could be Aaron Altherr, who is reportedly three weeks away from returning to the diamond or Nick Williams, the Phils top rated OF prospect who’s having a good season at AAA after getting off to a slow start.
The player everyone wants to see in a Phillies uniform is J.P. Crawford. The Phils top rated prospect is currently ranked third among all prospects by MLB Pipeline.
Jun 29, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Asche hits a sacrifice fly resulting in an RBI in the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. The Phillies defeated the Diamondbacks 9-8 in 10 innings. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sport
Crawford is the jewel of a strong Phillies farm system that the future rides on. He started the year at AA Reading and advanced to AAA Lehigh Valley. Defensively Crawford is ready.
Offensively, Crawford got off to a slow start when he first reached AAA. After his customary slow start at a new level Crawford has taken off at the plate. Over his last 10 games, however, he’s hit .405 with three HR’s and nine RBI’s. His advanced approach to hitting should make him an excellent two-hole hitter at the major league level.
Crawford is looking more and more liker a September call up. Many fans, myself included, would like to see him sooner. Barring a serious injury to Freddy Galvis that’s not likely to happen.
The Phils are being patient and methodical about when they bring up their prospects. With Crawford just 21 years of age and having less than 200 AB’s at AAA, the Phils are making sure he’ll be prepared when he makes his debut in the Show.
Other September call ups, if they’re not already with the Phillies before then will be Williams, pitcher Jake Thompson, catcher Andrew Knapp, are returning Darin Ruf, and some bullpen arms to ease the load the Phils pen has had to carry all year.
The rebuild looks to be a little ahead of schedule. If the Phils make a playoff push you can upgrade that statement to the Phils rebuild was far ahead of schedule.
One thing you can be sure of…there will be some new faces in the dugout in the second half. The question is will they be there to help make a playoff push or to get ready for 2017?