The starting rotation of Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta, and Vince Velasquez has been great this year. There have been some stretches along the way where guys have struggled with command and the defense behind them has fallen apart, but it has been a truly incredible season for the Phillies starters.
They decided that, since they had already been dominant all year, there was no reason to slow down after the All-Star break. As Scott Lauber of Philly.com pointed out, the starters had a stretch of eight games where they went for 55.1 innings pitched with a 1.46 ERA and just nine earned runs. They have been a joy to watch and it would be great to see them maintain their stuff down the stretch.
The latest development has been even more encouraging. Now not only have the starters been taking care of business, the bullpen has been great.
We have pointed out the bullpen struggles here, and it was hard to remain sane when Hector Neris took the mound with a one-run lead in the ninth. Now, the Phillies seem to have a slew of guys that can eat up innings. Tommy Hunter is bouncing back from his early-season woes and Victor Arano and Austin Davis have become rock-solid relievers for this team.
The Phillies do not have any one clear closer, as Prosportsnotes.com pointed out, but Pat Neshek and Seranthony Dominguez are their best relievers and tend to get the call in game-winning situations. It is time to find out if the bullpen can continue to impress, and possibly improve, down the stretch.