Phillies outfielder Nick Castellanos is looking more like himself in recent weeks.
Winners of eight of their last nine games entering Saturday’s popular annual Wall of Fame Night, the Philadelphia Phillies are continuing to improve the odds of them snapping their decade-long postseason drought — the second-longest in Major League Baseball.
The Phillies finished the first half strong with a rare road series sweep of the Miami Marlins. Yet, their first post-All Star Break set was the popular opposite — being swept at home by the Chicago Cubs, outscored 25-7. Gabe Kapler and Joe Girardi-led teams of seasons past would have folded, but it seems this year’s squad will not let history repeat itself.
Now with a 58-48 record, one of the key players who has helped the Phillies reach 10 games over .500 for the first time since June 2019 is outfielder Nick Castellanos. It was just two weeks ago when Castellanos got in a heated locker room exchange with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury.
At the time, Castellanos was slashing just .245/.290/.366 on the year. In the Florida native’s 12 games since, he has improved those numbers to .257/.300/.384 — hitting .348/.375/.522 during the stretch with two doubles, two home runs, seven RBI, two walks, and just seven strikeouts.
One of his two home runs gave the Phillies a late 3-1 lead, securing a two-game road series split against their division-rival Atlanta Braves. The other was came opposite the Washington Nationals on Friday — one of the team’s three first-inning home runs in the eventual 7-2 victory.
It may just be a coincidence, but perhaps Phillies fans can thank Salisbury for igniting at least some fire in the 10-year veteran.
Castellanos has not just contributed at the plate, as his outfield assist on Thursday prevented the Nationals from scoring the game-tying run in the rain-shortened series opener.
The Phillies have less than 60 games remaining and are amid a tight race with the Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres — and one of the Milwaukee Brewers or St. Louis Cardinals — for one of the three National League Wild Card spots.
It could not be a better time for Castellanos to turn his season around than now. While Bryce Harper is expected back in the coming weeks, if Castellanos can help keep the momentum going with some of his 2021 season-type power numbers, the Phils should find themselves in a prime position to hopefully clinch their first “Red October” since 2011.