With the recent crushing losses to both the Dodgers and Cardinals, it became clear that the 2016 Phillies are not ready for prime time.
Both opponents thoroughly handled the young Phillies team, if not outright embarrassing them at times. Both teams also appear headed to the postseason again.
If the season ended today, the Phillies would have faced playoff bound teams a total of 44 times. These teams include the Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Indians as division leaders and the Cardinals and Giants as Wild Card teams.
The Phillies record against these teams is 16-28, a full 12 games under .500. As a whole, the Phillies currently stand at 60-70, 10 games under .500. The math works out very close to this: a third of their total games were against these teams and they resulted in close to half their losses and only a quarter of their wins. Think about that a second.
What this shows us is that when the Phillies play the better teams they get beat one out of every three times, and by a much wider margin then when they play non playoff, or weaker, teams. When they were able to beat those teams it was very close, when they weren’t able to beat them they got shelled.
There are also several teams “in the hunt” for playoff spots. With a month left in the season there are five teams the Phillies played that are within five games of a playoff spot. Those teams are the Marlins, Pirates, Mets, Tigers and Royals.
Against that set of teams the Phillies are 14-17. That’s not bad, especially if you take into consideration the expectations for the Phillies going in to this year. The run differential in that set is also better at -30. They’ve won four of those games by one run and lost six by five or more runs.
Any Phillies fan would be happy to consider this team on par with this group at this particular juncture in time. Certainly this is more competitive than anyone expected the 2016 Phillies to be.
So that just leaves the worst teams in the league. Among these teams that the Phillies have played are the Braves, Brewers, Reds, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Padres, White Sox and Twins. When playing this lowest tier of teams the Phils are 29-23 with a positive run differential of three. To be a truly dominant club though, these are the teams that you have to beat.
Think of it this way, if the Phils could have won just five more of these games they’d be within four games of a wild card spot and in third place in the NL, two and half behind the Marlins for second place.
They not only need to win more of those games but they need to win them more decisively.
A troubling spot in these losses is Jerad Eickhoff, who has five losses to these “lessor” opponents and no wins.. Conventionally, you’d like to see more of these losses pinned to Adam Morgan, Charlie Morton and David Hernandez types, someone not tied to the future.
Velasquez, Nola and Hellickson also own five losses combined.
Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos each have one, meaning that they lost at least two of these games in the late innings.
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To reiterate for the sake of significance: if you want to be a an upper echelon team, you have to beat up on the lower level teams.
Looking at these games and their results gives a pretty good indication that the 2016 Phillies are a work in progress; these records show that.
They have very obvious holes in the lineup, weaknesses in the bullpen and inexperience in the rotation and those deficiencies are easily exploitable by better opponents. They’ll need to address this going forward.
But the bright spot is that this is a team that was projected to be the worst in baseball this year and they are clearly not. They are perhaps further along than anyone thought they’d be and may even be a team one year out of competing.