Although Kapler hasn't officially named Dominguez the "closer" he is clearly the go-to arm in the bullpen for the high leverage situations.
The bullpen had more lows than highs during this 42 game stretch, but combined to pitch 8 scoreless innings in Sunday's win over Washington.
The question now is, how long can Matt Klentak go without bringing in another reliable arm?
Q2: Will the starting pitching hold up?
The Phillies starting pitching has been fantastic this season, and that continued throughout this stretch. Aaron Nola has cemented himself as a bonafide ace and a top 5 pitcher in the National League.
After posting 5 wins with a 1.76 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over the last month, Zach Eflin is now locked in as the 5th starter.
However, June wasn't great for every starting pticher..
The question now shifts to Jake Arrieta. Is he cooked? Or can he turn things around?
Q3: Is Odubel Herrera an all-star, and a possible MVP candidate?
Answer: Yes, he should all-star.. but no, he's not a MVP candidate.
Odubel runs really, really hot, and really, really cold.
From May 28th - June 14th, he went 10/64 with only 1 extra base hit (a double on June 1st.) But on June 15th in Milwaukee, he regained his early season form. From the 15th-24th he went 17/40 (.425 AVG) with 6 home runs and 13 RBI's.
However, over the past week he is only 2/29.
Despite the ups and downs, he has certainly done enough to be selected to his second all-star game.
If Nola and Herrera do get selected, it would be the first time since 2013 (Cliff Lee and Dom Brown) that the Phillies have two representatives.
Q4: How will Kapler handle the shortstop position?
Answer: Scott Kingery.
This decision was made for him due to J.P Crawford fracturing his left hand.
Kingery hasn't been great, but has marginally improved both at the plate and on defense.
Q5: Will the Phillies be buyers or sellers?
The PHILLIES ARE BUYERS!!!!
They are 8 games over .500, just as they were before this brutal stretch.
They have proven to everyone that they are for real. It's now time for Matt Klentak to reward his players and manager with some much needed help for a potential playoff run.
So since the Phillies are buyers, let's look at some potential targets.
The Phillies only have a + 6 run differential for the season. The pitching can only do so much. The offense needs to be upgraded if they want to remain in contention.
The most likely position to be upgraded is third base.
Manny Machado, BAL
Mike Moustakas, KC
Adrian Beltre, TEX
Any of these players would be an instant upgrade, but Manny Machado is the name that jumps off the page.
Like Moustakas and Beltre, Machado is a free agent after this season, but would cost the Phillies a lot more.
Minus trading Sixto Sanchez, it could be worth the risk.
What else is Andy MacPhail (Phillies president) here for if it's not to bring Manny Machado to town?
Machado is batting .310 with 21 home runs on the season.
A lineup of...
.. looks pretty damn good.
Another name to watch...
-Adam Jones, BAL
Speaking of Andy MacPhail, he loves Adam Jones. His claim to fame in Baltimore was acquiring Adam Jones (among others) from Seattle for Erik Bedard.
Aaron Altherr has seen his average drop to .174 on the season after going 7/53 over the last month.
Nick Williams isn't exactly lighting the world on fire either. He is only batting .228 over the last month, and .236 for the season.
Jones (.287 AVG, 10 home runs) would be an upgrade over both, and would provide a veteran presence for a playoff run.
There should be a surplus of bullpen arms available for Klentak to choose from.
Here are two names I really like..
Brad Hand, SD
The Phillies need a lefty in the worst way. The price on Hand was originally thought to be ridiculously high, but he has an ERA of 6.00 over the last month, so it's possible that the price has come down a bit. Hand is under team control until 2021.
Kyle Barraclough, MIA
He is sporting a smooth 0.99 ERA for the season. Barraclough, who is under team control until 2021 as well, would be a serious upgrade over anyone other than Seranthony.
Aaron Loup, TOR
Jake Diekman, TEX
Zach Britton, BAL
Craig Stammen, SD
Keone Kela, TEX
Finding a starting pitcher will be a much more difficult task.
Cole Hamels, TEX
Hamels was hammered yesterday in Chicago, allowing 7 earned runs. The Phillies have been linked to Hamels, but should only consider him at a discounted price. This is far from the Cole Hamels that Phillies fans remember.
JA Happ, TOR
Another former Phillie who also allowed 7 earned runs on Sunday.
Happ and Hamels have very similar numbers this season, (Happ - 4.03 ERA, Hamels - 4.05 ERA) the only difference is that Happ is a free agent at seasons end.
Jacob DeGrom, NYM
Degrom is more of a pipe dream than anything else, but it is possible that he gets moved. The Phillies would have to severely overpay, but imagine a 1-2 punch of Nola and Degrom?!?!
This is an exciting time for Phillies fans. They have made it out of that brutal stretch alive, and are now positioned to make a serious playoff push.
Their schedule is now far more favorable. Over their next 16 games they do not play a team that is currently above .500. They will have every opportunity to make up some ground on Atlanta and keep pace in the wild card standings.
Matt Klentak needs to be aggressive and make this team better.
The playoffs aren't necessarily a lock, but with some help from their general manager, they should remain in contention throughout the season.
After six straight losing seasons, being in contention is just about all you can ask for.