Differences in Sustainability: The 2018 and 2016 Phillies

The 2018 Phillies are currently 24-16, they have the second best record in both the NL East and the NL in general. This isn’t the first time the Phillies have gotten off to a hot start in the rebuild era. Leaving the day on May 18, 2016 the Phillies were 24-17, with the second best record in the division and the third best record in the NL. We know how that story went with the Phillies ending up 71-91 or 47-74 after that hot start. They ended up at a -186 run differential, which had their Pythagorean record at 62-100, pointing to a team that could have been even worse. Now no one is really arguing that the 2016 and 2018 Phillies are in a similar spot or are similar teams at all, but by exploring the differences we can see how far the team has actually come.

The Run Differential

Run differential is a volatile statistic where one or two good or bad games can make a big swing, but it is useful on a larger scale. On May 18, 2016 the Phillies were at -28 on the year. That is bad, not mediocre, actually bad. At the time I argued the Phillies were sacrificing blowouts and winning close games, to that point 13 of their 24 wins had been by a single run. In contrast the 2018 Phillies currently stand at +42. That is 3rd in the NL behind the Braves and an under performing Cubs team. The 2018 Phillies have only won 6 1 run games, and have been convincingly beating teams when they get a lead. Continue reading…

With the Promotion of Seranthony Dominguez the Phillies Are Sticking to Preseason Clichés

This spring the Phillies ran out a PR campaign around Kapler’s focus on “Value at the Margins” and #BeBold. For the most part the Phillies have been a pretty conventional sabermetrically inclines org. That is bold for baseball in this town. Outside Kingery starting in the majors, there hasn’t been any big personnel shakeups this year, until yesterday.

Stuff wise Seranthony Dominguez entered the offseason as #2 only to Sixto Sanchez. The righty was sitting 94-98 as a starting pitcher and holding his velocity deep into games. His slider showed plus potential, and he flashed an above average to plus changeup. The big problem was that Dominguez was 23 and had never really been healthy through a full year. The Phillies broke with what was conventional wisdom and moved what might have been a #2 or #3 starting pitcher to the bullpen to fast track him. After he blitzed AA, they moved him to AAA for the last little bits of polishing. Continue reading…

Yacksel Rios Has Continued To Grow In His Major League Time

Yacksel Rios has been in the Phillies system for a long time for a player dancing on the outside of being an actual prospect. The Phillies drafted him at 17 out of a Puerto Rican high school in 2011. He didn’t reach full season ball until 2014, and was still starting sometimes all the way through 2016. He spent some time as projectable loose armed work in progress, some time as a hard thrower with no clue what he was doing, and then finally last year things seemed to come together. With Reading, Rios was sitting 93-97 and flashing a good slider. A mid season injury robbed him of time and some velocity. The Phillies still saw fit to promote him to the majors in September rather than lose him in the fall to minor league free agency. He was ok for a rookie reliever, sitting more 92-96 and having trouble with his command. Continue reading…

Crawford to the DL Opens Up Playing Time At a High Cost

Over the weekend, J.P. Crawford made a relay throw and lost feeling in his arm. For now he is on the disabled list with a forearm strain. We should know in the next few days how long Crawford will be out for. For now Scott Kingery will be the starting shortstop and Maikel Franco will see more time at third base than he has.  Coming into the season, it was said by many that the Phillies playing time issues would likely be solved by an injury, and while we all expected it, seeing one of the Phillies top prospects go down. Continue reading…

Ben Lively to the DL as Shaky #5 SP Spot Becomes Shakier

It was not long after he got done pitching batting practice to the Arizona Diamondbacks that Ben Lively mentioned that his back was tight, and he just wasn’t feeling right. Given the lack of urgency to this after the game, it was a slight surprise that Lively ended up immediately on the disabled list. To fill his spot the Phillies have recalled right handed pitcher Jake Thompson. We don’t know how long Ben Lively will be out with his lower back strain, so I am not going to speculate how long he is going to out for, because his DL stint could run all the way until Jerad Eickhoff is back. Continue reading…

Luis Garcia Has Become the Phillies Bullpen Workhorse

Luis Garcia was a great story back in 2013. He was a 26 year old who had been out of affiliated baseball for 2 full seasons, had barely pitched above low-A, and was working as a barber. After destroying three levels of the Phillies’ system, Garcia reached the majors in July. He had a hard fastball and nowhere to throw it. He would spent 2014 for the most part in Lehigh Valley, winning the Paul Owens Award in a weak farm system. His 2015 season would yield major league success, but also a bunch of walks and inconsistent game to game results. In 2016 he posted an ERA over 6 in the majors in 15.1 innings, and spent most of the year in AAA. When the Phillies faced a 40 man roster crunch in the fall of 2016, it looked like Garcia and Adam Morgan were on the outside. The Phillies kept Garcia, citing his new splitter and their lack of major league ready relief depth. He pitched in 5 games for the Phillies in April before being in AAA until May. Garcia has been in the majors since. Continue reading…

21 Games In; (Re)Visiting Two Early Storylines

With today’s 3-2 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Phillies have now played 21 games in 2018, which means we are somehow already through about an eighth of the season.  Hard to believe, Harry.

At 8-2 in their last 10 games and 13-3 since their embarrassing showings vs. Atlanta and New York to start the season, there are few teams in baseball hotter than the Phillies.  Now, with almost a month’s worth of games on record, let’s look at a pair of the key Phillies storylines from Spring Training and the early regular season. Continue reading…

With the Rotation Doing Fine, The Phillies Need To Reevaluate Their Bullpen

The Phillies starting rotation has not been dominant this season on a whole. They have had a few dominant starts, like Jake Arrieta last night, but they haven’t been truly lights out, especially when you account for their level of competition. Their starters have the 5th best ERA in baseball at 3.14, but once again they have yet to really face an offensive power house. Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez have been very good and Jake Arrieta seems to have finally finished with the warmup portion of his year. Aaron Nola is still not missing bats at a high rate, but he has a dominant start under his belt and a 2.22 ERA. If all of that holds, the Phillies have an above average rotation with some upside for a bit more. Early in the offseason the Phillies built a bullpen to withstand a bad rotation. At the time they didn’t have Jake Arrieta and Velasquez and Pivetta were huge question marks, as was the now injured Jerad Eickhoff. They expected to manage short outings from their rotation, signing Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter to bolster 7th and 8th innings, and building a team to handle a 8 man bullpen. Continue reading…

Phillies Need to Continue Feasting On Bad Teams In Weak Early Schedule

After a 1-4 start to the season, the Phillies have won 8 of their last 9 games. At 9-5 they have one of the best records in baseball, but I don’t think anyone would argue that they are one of the best teams in baseball. After 14 games of the season it seems a bit much to say that a series against the Atlanta Braves is important, but as the Phillies head back to Atlanta they face 3 fairly important games for a mid-April tilt.

It is fairly obvious why the Phillies record is where it is. They lost 2 of 3 games to the Braves in a series with some bad breaks, bad management, and some disastrous pitching from Vince Velasquez. They lost two close games to a Mets team playing out of its mind. Then they just got done cleaning up against three of the five worst teams in baseball. There is nothing fluky about the Phillies having 9 wins, but there is also nothing predictive. The Phillies are at minimum in baseball’s vast mediocrity and not among it’s crap, they are better than the clearly tanking and the inept. They are also not an elite team who is going to win when they make mistakes. Continue reading…

Crash Bag #6: The Young Guys Might be Fine

Sorry for not writing much. I don’t have any excuses, so here is your questions answered.

@andrewrnnier: Can they continue to find at bats for everyone/does the early success of Cesar make him more appealing in a trade thereby freeing up regular at bats for kingery

@andrewrnnier: I guess the better question should have been, given the contract extension and number of at bats Kingery has gotten in the first two weeks, what are the long term ramifications? Is he truly going to be a super utility who plays 4-5 times a week until Cesar moves on?

@DoctorSchoppe: How’s your gut feeling on Caesar holding up in this young season? How about we let em play. JP has the glove to be an everyday regular and his floor is above Galvis. Next question. #philliestalk

I am just going to combine these all kind of together. I think they can continue to balance the playing time. We have already seen guys get hot, guys get cold, and we have yet to see anyone get injured. Odds are at some point that someone is going to get banged up, at which point having their current depth will make the loss much less painful. Continue reading…