PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If the Phillies win Wednesday in Arizona and on Friday in San Diego, they’ll equal their victory total for all of their dismal 2017 campaign by August 10.
The 2017 Phillies didn’t reach win No. 66 until Oct. 1.
The way things look right now, sometimes ugly, sometimes not, it appears the 2018 Phillies will be playing beyond Oct. 1 this year.
The Phillies’ 5-2 win over a good Arizona Diamondbacks team, National League West contenders, is a good indication why.
Phillies’ pitching is No. 6 overall in Major League Baseball, with a 3.73 ERA through 113 games. Though Phils’ manager Gabe Kapler has received more than his fair share of criticism for how he’s used the bullpen, using more of a closer-by-committee approach, the Phillies are tied for fourth overall in MLB with 34 saves.
The Phillies’ starting rotation has a National League-best 59 quality starts this season (next: WSH, 55 QS). They rank No. 2 in FIP (3.58), WHIP (1.19), opponent OBP (.299) & opponent SLG (.383), No. 3 in ERA (3.67) & opponent OPS (.682), rank No. 4 in innings pitched (635.2) and strikeouts (624). Over the Phillies last eight starts, their starters have posted a 1.46 ERA (9 ER, 55.1 IP) with 45 strikeouts to only seven walks (6.43 SO/BB ratio).
It seems to be a team coming together at the right time. Through 113 games, the Phillies are a season-best 15 games above .500 at 64-49 and have scored 498 runs and allowed 459 (+39). In comparison to 2017 after 113 games, they were 29 games under .500 at 42-71 and had scored 451 and allowed 547 (-96).
Over their last 16 series, dating back to June 12, the Phillies are 11-3-2. Their three series losses in that span have come against the Yankees at Citizens Bank Park (1-2, June 25-27), the Marlins, in Miami (1-2, July 13-15) and the Cincinnati Reds, in Cincinnati (1-3, July 26-29). Their 11 series wins in that span have come against the Rockies, Brewers, Cardinals, Nationals (2x), Orioles (2x), Pirates, Padres, Dodgers and Marlins.
Offensively, third baseman Maikel Franco has resurfaced as the player the Phillies thought he would be. In his last 39 games, from June 23 to the present, Franco is hitting .326 (46-141), eight 2B, nine HRs, 21 RBI, .945 OPS. More importantly, Franco is one of two players in the majors with 18 or more HR and fewer than 55 strikeouts this season (the other being Washington’s Matt Adams).
Tuesday night’s game also saw new Phillie Asdrúbal Cabrera get picked off of first to end the sixth inning.
It’s these little things that could make a great surprise season end on a terrible note.