What should we expect from the Phillies moving forward?

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BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 16: Pedro Florimon #18, Cesar Hernandez #16, and Odubel Herrera #37 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrate after the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 16, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. Phillies won 4-1. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 16: Pedro Florimon #18, Cesar Hernandez #16, and Odubel Herrera #37 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrate after the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 16, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. Phillies won 4-1. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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The Phillies are currently playing their best baseball since the end of their streak of division titles. Can we expect them to keep this up?

It has been quite some time since we have seen the Phillies play this good of baseball. They are eight games above .500 with a 24-16 record. They haven’t had this good of a record since 2011 when the team won their fifth straight National League East title. Will this season begin their next run of playoff appearances?

If the Phils keep up this pace, they will win 97 games by the end of this year. That’s a tall order for a team who won just 66 games last year and hasn’t finished above .500 since that 2011 season.

General manager Matt Klentak said that with such a young team, it’s hard to confidently project the team to keep up that pace. However, he says this team is much different from the 71-91 2016 team that started the year 24-17: [quote via Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia]

More from Phillies News

"“On top of that, I think, in the bullpen, there is a lot of depth on this team. And when you look back to the ’16 club, I think we had at that stage three guys that were throwing the ball pretty well and we were relying on them pretty heavily in those one-run games.“But I think the way this team is evolving, whether we are winning a close game or losing a close game or it’s a blowout, we’re able to put a good arm on the mound that’s delivered good results.“And I think our offense is really starting to click now, too. One of the things about the ’16 team was that we were winning a bunch of low-scoring games. We weren’t scoring a lot. And this club, the offense is really starting to find their rhythm right now.”"

For what it’s worth, Baseball Prospectus does expect some regression from this team. They project the Phillies will post a 62-60 record the rest of the year. This would leave the team with an 86-76 record, putting them right in the heart of the wild-card race according to their projections. BP says the team has a 50.4 percent chance of making the playoffs (fourth-best in the National League) and a 26.4 percent chance of winning the division.

The next month and a half will go a long way to determining just how good this team really is. Until July 1, the only team currently under .500 they will face are the Los Angeles Dodgers. They will have to face some of the best teams in the league: Cardinals, Braves, Blue Jays, Giants, Cubs, Brewers, Rockies, Nationals, and Yankees.

Up to this point, Philadelphia has feasted on some of the worse teams in the league. While it may be unrealistic to expect the club to still post a .600 winning percentage, the players still expect to hold their own against this higher level of competition: [quote via Matt Gelb of the Athletic]

More from That Balls Outta Here

"“We’re definitely going to be playing better teams, 100 percent,” Rhys Hoskins said. “You can’t change that. But I think we’ve already kind of learned that, when we are playing good teams, we come to play just like we do all the other games, too…“Those games are something that definitely doesn’t kill a team like this,” [Tommy] Hunter said. “These guys are young, hungry, and ready to roll. We have a tough stretch of games, on paper, coming up. But we’re a pretty tough team to play against as well. Our depth is pretty strong. They have to play against us, too. They have to play against a contender.”"

Hoskins and Hunter both have reasons to be confident. The pitching staff has been among the best in the league, led by a tremendous starting rotation. Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta have pitched like aces, while Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez have come into their own as strong mid-rotation starters.

The offense has also picked up the pace in recent weeks, led by turnarounds by Carlos Santana and Maikel Franco. Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera have been producing all season long at the plate. Once the entire team gets going at the plate, they can really be dangerous.

Next: History of the 3rd-overall pick in the MLB Draft

Should we expect this team to completely roll through some of the best teams in the league like it’s nothing? No, we shouldn’t. However, we also shouldn’t expect them to completely bottom out like that 2016 club. We have said since the beginning of the year that this team can certainly make a run at the wild card. After seeing how this team can perform, that should still be the expectation.

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