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…

Monday Morning Roundtable: Fact or Fluke

Each Monday morning I ask the writers a series of questions about current topics facing the Phillies and baseball. This week, the Phillies record is still bad, but they are playing much better. Which of these trends are real, and which ones are setting us up for disappointment?

Luis Garcia has not given up a run since June 13 and since then has gone 17.1 IP with 7 hits, 5 walks, 17 strikeouts, and a ground ball rate over 60%. Is Luis Garcia good?

Michael: Fact. Garcia’s strikeout rate is down, but his walk rate is way down to just 8.1%. If you take out the one game where he allowed 5 ER in 0.2 innings, his ERA would be just 1.14.

Adam: Fact. Because just like in the NBA, everyone makes a run. Relievers are notoriously volatile and if Garcia is getting whiffs, he’s good (for this team). Continue reading…

Aaron Nola’s Return Upgrades the Phillies Rotation

The Philadelphia Phillies have had terrible pitching this year. I have already addressed how there isn’t any immediate help on the way for the bullpen (though with speculation that Ricardo Pinto is moving to the bullpen that could change). Where there is immediate help for the Phillies is in the starting rotation. The Phillies did not win Aaron Nola’s first start back from injury, but he did show that the Phillies may have made a significant rotation upgrade.

There are a lot of unknowns around Aaron Nola’s future. The most significant is his health. So far this year, we have had no reason to doubt that Nola’s arm is fully healthy, but it is reasonable to be unsure whether he will hold up over a full season. Then there is his back injury which held him out for a month (with two rehab starts). Once again Nola looks healthy, but with some setbacks along the way, it is hard to feel completely comfortable. For someone now in his 3rd MLB season, Aaron Nola has thrown very few innings, both due to injury and a quick path through the minors to majors. This gives us very little baseline of performance. Continue reading…

Nola Injured and the Phillies Make a Trade

The Phillies 40 man roster will be a story all year, as they navigate the 11 players they added in front of the Rule 5 draft. With Clay Buchholz’s season ending injury and Elniery Garcia’s PED suspension, the roster opened up some. This was all just in time for injuries to hit the Phillies elsewhere.

The heart attack inducing injury was to Aaron Nola’s back. Right now, all indications are that Nola will only miss a start or two on this DL trip, but the news caused some level of panic anyway. The corresponding move is fairly obvious. Nick Pivetta has gotten off to a hot start and is both on the 40 man roster and on turn in the rotation. Pivetta probably needs more time in AAA, but he should be fine to make a 1 to 2 start cameo in the majors. The Phillies could choose to go with a bullpen game in those starts instead, but all signs point to Pivetta making his debut. Continue reading…