The Trade Deadline came and went and while plenty of Phillies trade rumors were circulating around baseball, they only made two minor moves to bolster the rotation and bench. The Phillies, more or less, have their 26 guys that they are going to fight for a playoff spot with.
Does this team have what it takes to take a Wild Card spot and make a run to the World Series like last year? Or maybe, they flounder and miss out on the playoffs entirely. At the time of writing, they sit at 58-50 and in the second Wild Card spot just 1.5 games behind the Giants. They have 54 games remaining over the next two months to prove to secure their spot.
Let’s take a look at a few reasons why, despite the underwhelming Trade Deadline, they are a World Series contender and a couple reasons why they are not.
They are a World Series contender:
Reason #1 - The Bullpen
The bullpen has been the best overall group the entire year. Dombrowski made some upgrades over the offseason, so expectations were relatively high, but I don’t think anyone quite envisioned the success they’ve had so far. According to FanGraphs, the Phillies bullpen ranks seventh in the MLB in WAR with a accumulated score of 3.9. Rob Thomson and the coaching staff has clearly put a ton of faiths into the bullpen and they have rewarded that trust with a bullpen team era of 3.73. The team has just 13 blown saves out of 45 opportunities for a 71% save rate which ranks fifth in the league. This is unfamiliar territory for recent Phillies teams as the bullpen has not been a strength in quite some time. Leaning on the likes of Craig Kimbrel, Gregory Soto, Seranthony Dominguez, and Jose Alvarado has worked well and guys like Matt Strahm, Jeff Hoffman and even Yunior Marte has stepped up in a big way to keep leads and to keep games close. The ability to hold leads and to keep games close when behind is a key to winning down the stretch and in the playoffs. It allows the starters to pitch more comfortably knowing they have backup behind them, and it gives the offense a chance to put runs together late in games while the game is still close. The bullpen is the number one reason the Phillies are in the position they are in now and one of the reason they are contending for a championship.