Phillies: Three bold predictions for the second half of the season

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 5: Adam Haseley #40 of the Philadelphia Phillies bats during a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park June 5, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 5: Adam Haseley #40 of the Philadelphia Phillies bats during a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park June 5, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /

After a pedestrian first half to the year, the 2019 Phillies need some things to go their way if they want to compete in the NL East

After what can be described as an underwhelming first half of the season, the Phillies need a spark to start up a more productive second half of the season. Under-performance from the star-studded lineup that was supposedly going to take the NL East by storm, compiled with the ridiculous injuries that have plagued the Phils pitching staff has led to a 47-43 record at the break.

Starting up again in the middle of July, Philadelphia is now 7.5 games back in their division, clinging to a spot in the wild-card race after a loss Friday night to the Nationals. To take back their season and work towards a playoff berth, serious changes need to be made, and multiple players need to step up; here are a few predictions for the last 72 games of the season.

Adam Haseley Returns to Become an Excellent Fourth Outfielder

A fast-moving college prospect drafted in the first round in 2017 out of the University of Virginia, Haseley cracked the big-league roster after an excellent spring training and consistent production across multiple levels of minor league baseball. Haseley made his debut at the beginning of June and looked comfortable as a Phillie, collecting his first big league hit only to go down with a groin strain.

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When he makes his return, Haseley will have to grind his way back into the Phillies 25-man roster, but he has all the tools to do so. Jay Bruce, Scott Kingery, and Bryce Harper have solidified themselves in the outfield barring any injuries. Haseley can use his hit tool off the bench and provide fresh legs to a veteran like Jay Bruce before the postseason. He’s likely the future in left field for the Phils, and it begins with learning from one of the consummate professionals in this game.

The Phillies Solidify their Pitching Staff (somewhat)

Easily the most frustrating part of this roster, the pitching staff hasn’t been easy to watch this season. David Robertson has yet to be anything in a Phillies uniform. Seranthony Dominguez hasn’t been the same guy he was last year, call-ups like Edgar Garcia have been bad, up-and-coming arms like Nick Pivetta haven’t taken the next step yet.

The trade deadline is often a arms race, as we saw with the Justin Verlander trade at the 2017 deadline. Madison Bumgarner and Marcus Stroman are the big fish, but the Phils would be better suited to go after a guy like Trevor Bauer or Mike Minor. Bauer is electric when he has command, and Minor is a steady left-handed arm.

As far as the bullpen goes, the Phillies can add a piece or two but might need to hope that guys on the current roster turn it around. It’s going to be a tough road ahead for the Phillies if the pitching doesn’t step up.

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Bryce Harper hits .280 in the Second Half

Harper seems to be settling into his mega contract, and Bryce Harper has been poised to turn the corner on his pedestrian 2019 season. His stat line currently reads 16 home runs, 62 RBI with a .253 average. The number that stands out is the 105 strikeouts. He’s on pace for almost 200 strikeouts this year, and that’s not going to cut it for the 330-million-dollar man.

Bryce seems to be working with his swing mechanics to return to peak form, but the bottom line is the Phillies owe him this money whether he hits the baseball or strikes out every at-bat.

Ideally, hitting .280 is not a bold prediction for a guy like Harper but given what we’ve seen throughout this season, .280 is a benchmark we hope he can hit. Still on pace for 30 homers and 112 RBI, Bryce needs it to click at the plate a few times, and he’ll be just fine.

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If these predictions hold, the Phillies will be on their way to a playoff appearance for the first time since 2011. They are still within striking distance of the division crown; the Phils need a couple of things to break their way they’ll find themselves sitting pretty.