Ken Giles Returning to Form

Towards the end of April, Ken Giles looked like an alarmingly diminished form of his 2014 self. At the time, I wrote about his decreased average fastball velocity, the corresponding increase in the quantity of contact he allowed, and a small sample size horrendous walk-rate. Fortunately for the Phillies, their presumed future closer has been gradually regaining his form over the past month and a half.

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Maikel Franco Has Been Timely with His Hits

Maikel Franco has only logged 21 games thus far this season, but he’s made the most of it even with an ugly 2-for-27 stretch in the final week of May. He homered in three of four games to open the month of June, contributing to two comeback wins against the Cincinnati Reds. Those two contributions, plus one earlier in the year in Colorado against the Rockies, have him taking up three of the top-six spots for the biggest contributions in terms of Win Percent Added (WPA).

WPA, simply put, tells you how much a player contributed to his team’s odds of winning. It can be used for a singular play or for contributions across an entire game or any select period of time. The aforementioned list references total game contributions:

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The New Freddy Galvis

Just nineteen days ago, Freddy Galvis was hitting .355/.414/.413 leading some to speculate that he’d be the Phillies representative at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati next month. Since that high point, the bottom has fallen out. He’s batting .125/.155/.143 in his last 13 games while striking out in nearly a quarter of his plate appearances and drawing just two walks. While it may have been predictable that a player who entered the season with a career .621 OPS was unlikely to maintain an .800+ OPS, the rapidity of the regression has been painful to watch. Was the New Freddy Galvis of the first six weeks of the 2015 season a complete mirage? Is the Old Freddy Galvis back? What can we expect going forward?

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Curb Your Enthusiasm on Chase Utley

Over at The Good Phight, John Stolnis looked at second baseman Chase Utley‘s recent surge, which was propelled his batting average over the Mendoza line, something that was merely an acid-induced hallucination when he was hitting .099 as recently as May 8. As High Heat Stats noted on Twitter, Utley is hitting .342/.415/.493 over his last 22 games. Pretty good.

Stolnis digs a bit deeper into the numbers, finding that Utley has been swinging and missing less and making better contact with baseballs. Certainly, these are things that have positively contributed to Utley’s success. However, I respectfully disagree with Stolnis saying that Utley “is back” (ostensibly to his old self) with a three-week hot streak.

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Aaron Harang Pitching Much Better Than Expected

Making his 10th start of the season on Sunday afternoon against the Washington Nationals, Aaron Harang again delivered a quality start, holding the opposition to two runs in six innings of work in a losing effort. In nine of his starts this season, the right-hander has yielded three runs or fewer while pitching at least six innings. He owns a superb 1.93 ERA over 65 1/3 innings this season.

Needless to say, Harang has pitched better than anyone — including the Phillies — could have hoped when he signed a one-year, $5 million deal on January 5. The factors leading to his success are rather obvious to pinpoint: he has walked fewer than six percent of batters, allowed only two home runs on 85 fly balls, and has limited opponents to a .258 batting average on balls in play.

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Ben Revere’s Newfound Pop

Last night was a banner night for Ben Revere at the dish. In his first four hit game of the season, he hit three doubles making it the first time in his career that he recorded three extra base hits in a game. The offensive outburst raised Revere’s season slash line to .264/.304/.368, an impressive feat considering he slashed .135/.179/.135 through the first ten games of the season. Without question, the most intriguing feature of Revere’s current hot streak has been his power surge.

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The Phillies’ Bullpen, Despite A 2.81 ERA, Hasn’t Been Good

The Phillies lost 9-0 to the Atlanta Braves last night and none of the blame could be placed on the bullpen. Braves starter Shelby Miller quieted the offense, throwing a three-hit shutout on 99 pitches. Chad Billingsley gave up six runs over five innings in his first major league start since April 2013. Dustin McGowan started the seventh inning, but could only record one out as he walked four batters and allowed a hit en route to serving up three runs. Justin De Fratus came in and got the final five outs with no issue.

Walks have been an issue for McGowan as he now has 16 of them in 14 innings. The problem isn’t just isolated to McGowan, however.

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What’s Wrong with Cole Hamels?

Probably nothing. You can close the article now feeling rather confident that Cole Hamels will turn it around sooner rather than later. One need only remember that Hamels carried a 4.30 ERA through his first six starts last season, but finished at 2.46. Six starts is about one-sixth of a season, leaving plenty of time for improvement.

That said, there are a few noteworthy differences that are worth examining. Let’s compare his first six starts last year and this year:

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