The Phillies need to keep Rob Thomson as their manager

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JUNE 04: Interim manager Rob Thomson #59 (L) and Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrate after defeating the Los Angeles Angels at Citizens Bank Park on June 04, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JUNE 04: Interim manager Rob Thomson #59 (L) and Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrate after defeating the Los Angeles Angels at Citizens Bank Park on June 04, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Phillies need to keep Rob Thomson on as manager

When the Philadelphia Phillies parted ways with Joe Girardi and promoted coach Rob Thomson to interim manager at the beginning of June, they were 22-29.

Worse yet, they were a laughingstock; the eternally mediocre team with the perennially high payroll, perpetually failing to develop their prospects, owners of the longest postseason appearance drought in the National League. Except, this season, all of those things looked even worse, because 2022 was supposed to be different. In order to finally get out of the Bermuda Triangle they’ve been stuck in for the last decade, the Phillies exceeded the luxury tax threshold for the first time in franchise history to sign Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos and totally overhauled the bullpen.

And they still weren’t winning.

So they fired Girardi. And as soon as Thomson took over, something shifted. They won his first eight games and went 19-8 in June. They’re 6-3 in July. They’re seven games over .500, their best record of the season, and only six and a half games out of the division race. After Friday night’s win, the bullpen had a 0.75 ERA over their last 15 contests, which only got better after they shut out the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday afternoon. If the season ended today, they’d be a postseason team for the first time since 2011, because they currently hold the third NL Wild Card.

And they’re doing this without Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, Zach Eflin, and Ranger Suárez, to name a few of their current injured players.

Baseball is a complex sport, but it’s easy to pinpoint Thomson’s ability to connect with his players as a key reason this team looks completely different. Whereas Girardi often drew criticism for his management of the younger players, under Thomson’s leadership, they’re absolutely thriving. Alec Bohm had a two-homer game on Friday, Matt Vierling is making the case that Odúbel Herrera should never play again, and newcomer Darick Hall just made franchise history with four home runs in his first eight big-league games. Kyle Schwarber has homered 15 times since Thomson took over, including twice in his first game. The bullpen is suddenly lights out.

If the Phillies finish this season with a record better than one game over .500 (their record last season, their first winning year since 2011) or even clinch their first-ever Wild Card berth, Thomson should get a real shot. Girardi never felt like the right fit for this clubhouse, but Thomson absolutely does, and the results are evident both in the win-loss record and the overall energy of the team. It’s clear how much the players respect and enjoy playing for him, and managers around the league have high praise for the longtime coach. On the day he was fired, Girardi had nothing but the strongest endorsement of his replacement:

"“I’d argue he’s the best coach I’ve been around. He has great baseball sense. I think he deserved a chance a long time ago. I hope he turns this around, runs this team to the playoffs, they do great & that he continues as manager. I love the guy to death.”"

Ever since the Phillies fired Charlie Manuel midway through the 2013 campaign, no manager has lasted three full seasons. Thomson deserves at least a full year. You can bet his players agree.

facebooktwitterreddit