July 16, 2018
Technically we're past the halfway point of the season, but as you know, the all-star break is the unofficial end to the first half of the baseball season.
This was a very impressive run for the Phillies. They enter the break at 53-42, and a half game ahead of the Atlanta Braves for first place in the NL East.
They are ranked 8th in the Scores mid-season power rankings, and received a first half grade of an A.
Biggest surprise: The starting rotation
The rotation was quite possibly the biggest concern entering the season, but they have completely exceeded expectations.
As a whole they have shiny 3.72 ERA, and every starter has at least 5 wins.
Aaron Nola has been the anchor, but Zach Eflin has been the guy who has surprised everyone the most. He has been absolutely outstanding, going 7-2 with a 3.15 ERA.
Biggest letdown: The bullpen
We were told that the bullpen would be a strength coming into the season, but that has clearly not been the case.
Seranthony Dominguez, who has a 1.60 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 9 saves, and 10 holds, has been the lone bright spot. If it wasn't for him, the Phillies would not be in first place.
But even his brilliance has been overshadowed by the failures of others.
Hector Neris, who was the closer at the beginning of the year, is in triple A.
Tommy Hunter (4.65 ERA) and Adam Morgan (5.11 ERA) have been brutal.
As a whole the bullpen ranks 17th in all of baseball with a 4.08 ERA.
Before the season, I made 5 bold predictions..
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1. Carlos Santana will hit 30 home runs: Probably not.
He has 14 homers, but I don't think he has 16 more in him.
2. Aaron Nola will win 15 games: Wrong, he'll win more.
I was bullish on Nola, but not bullish enough. He already has 12 wins and it would be a major upset if he didn't get above 15.
3. Scott Kingery will be a 20/20 player: WRONG!
Kingery has been a major disappointment.
4. The Phillies will add a significant starting pitcher at the deadline: Possibly.
If Cole Hamels or J.A Happ is considered a significant starting pitcher, then it's still possible.
However, there isn't a whole lot of starting pitchers available, and as I mentioned, the rotation has been a lot better than anyone could have possibly anticipated.
Adding a bat is of much more importance.
5. Herrera or Franco will not end the season as an everyday player: TBD.
At one point it looked like Franco lost his starting gig to J.P. Crawford, but then a Luke Weaver fastball broke Crawford's left hand.
Franco could still be moved at the deadline, but both players have been better than I thought.
The Playoff Push...
They need to upgrade their lineup and bullpen, but at this point it would be a letdown if they failed to reach the postseason.
Only 24 of their 67 games are against teams that are currently above .500. 11 of those 24 are the last 11 games of the season.
-July 23rd-25th vs LA Dodgers
-July 30th-31st @ Boston
-August 6th-8th @ Arizona
-August 14th-15th vs Boston
-Aug 27th-September 2nd: 6 game homestand, 3 vs Washington, 3 vs Chicago Cubs.
-September 20th-30th: 4 @ Atlanta, 4 @ Colorado, 3 vs Atlanta.
If they can land Machado, a lineup of..
... or any other way you want to shake it, is a playoff lineup.
5 second half predictions:
1. The Phillies WILL land Manny Machado.
2. Rhys Hoskins will end the season with 30 (or more) home runs.
3. Zach Eflin will come back to earth a bit.
4. Either Vince Velasquez or Nick Pivetta will not end the season in the starting rotation.
5. They will win the NL EAST.
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