The Awful Phillies Are On A Six-Game Winning Streak

Something, something, broken clock right twice a day, or something. The Phillies, who entered Monday’s series opener at Coors Field with an expected record of 13-26 based on their -54 run differential, won 4-3 over the Rockies to bring their winning streak to six games. If we take their “expected” winning percentage of .333 at face value, the odds of them winning six games in a row is about one-in-a-thousand. Of course, with 157 six-game opportunities in a season, the odds aren’t quite that steep, but it’s still impressive nevertheless.

The Phillies have scored more than four runs just twice in those six games, which means they’ve been getting the job done on the pitching side of things. Indeed, here’s how the starters have fared:

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A Brief Written History of Maikel Franco

News broke this morning, from basically every beat writer who was awake, that the Phillies have called up third baseman Maikel Franco from AAA to start at the hot corner tonight and with any luck, long into the future. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, given the recent demotion of incumbent Cody Asche to log innings in left field, and Franco’s torrid pace at Lehigh Valley thus far. He was slashing .350/.372/.540/.912 with a .418 wOBA and a 166 wRC+. All that, and he was two years younger than anyone else in the Top Ten in OPS in the International League, and the fifth youngest position player in that league overall. Continue reading…

Jonathan Papelbon Becomes Phillies’ All-Time Saves Leader

The save stat is completely and utterly meaningless and its implementation has been a blight upon baseball, but it was still cool to see Jonathan Papelbon earn his 113th save as a member of the Phillies on Wednesday to wrap up a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. It ended in memorable fashion as well, with Jeff Francoeur catching a foul ball near the stands in right field, then firing a perfect strike to catcher Carlos Ruiz for a 9-2 assist.

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And So It Begins: Asche To AAA, Franco On The Horizon

In a move that’s simultaneously surprising and overdue, the Phillies optioned Cody Asche to Lehigh Valley after last night’s game where, according to the Phillies twitter account, “he will transition to left field.” In April, Asche won the starting third base job out of spring training for the second straight year, but despite being given every opportunity to prove himself at the position, he never demonstrated defensive abilities meriting an everyday role. Due to his defensive deficiencies and the looming presence of Maikel Franco in the upper minors, getting Asche playing time in the outfield has seemed inevitable for over a year now.

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Aaron Harang Drawing Some Trade Interest

Despite all the trade buzz around Cole Hamels, Aaron Harang has shockingly been the Phillies’ most reliable starting pitcher thus far in the 2015 season. The 37-year-old right-hander has a 2.38 ERA and a 31/9 K/BB ratio in 45 1/3 innings. He has gone at least six innings in all seven starts and has allowed three runs or fewer in six of them.

The Phillies signed Harang to a one-year, $5 million deal in January 2015, a deal which I did not like at the time. As it has turned out, Harang is drawing some trade interest, per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

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The 2015 Phillies, Collectively, Are 2014 Allen Craig

Allen Craig has been in the news recently as the outfielder was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket by the Boston Red Sox. The club ran out of patience with the 30-year-old as he had posted a paltry .430 OPS in 59 plate appearances, continuing his dreadful performance after coming over along with Joe Kelly in last year’s John Lackey trade with the St. Louis Cardinals at the deadline. In 107 PA with the Red Sox last season, Craig had a .425 OPS.

The Phillies lost 7-4 to the New York Mets yesterday, dropping their record to a league-worst 11-21 (tied with the Milwaukee Brewers) and their run differential to -60. It’s the worst run differential in baseball by far. The Colorado Rockies are in second place at -47 and the Brewers rank third at -46.

I was looking up the Phillies’ team offensive stats and found this depressing comparison:

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Chad Billingsley Hit A Home Run

Starter Chad Billingsley gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning with a solo home run to left field off of Mets starter Bartolo Colon. It’s his third career home run and his first since June 5, 2011. He’s the fourth Phillie to homer during the regular season dating back to 2008, joining Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and… Chan Ho Park. You can, of course, add Joe Blanton when he homered in Game 4 of the 2008 World Series.

Given Billingsley’s homer and the fact that the DH debate is back in full force, now is a good time to link to Michael Baumann’s terrific piece on the DH.