The Philadelphia Phillies sit at 43-38 and 7 games back of the Mets for the NL East division lead. The Fightins are tied for the third NL wild card spot with the Cardinals who they play in a four-game series in St. Louis starting Friday night. The Phillies are now five games over .500 and are definitely on a roll even without our franchise player and reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper who fractured his left thumb on June 26, 2022, and is out indefinitely and expected to return sometime in August along with another teammate with a fractured finger/thumb in Jean Segura.
The Phils have won six of nine games since Harper got hurt (including the game he got hurt in) and fans should be thrilled considering everyone acted like the season was over when the injury happened. The biggest surprise of the season has been Kyle Schwarber, who now holds the NL home run lead by 3 over Pete Alonso and tied for second with Yordan Alvarez in the entire MLB home run race, and trails Aaron Judge by 4 homers. He hit TWELVE home runs in June alone (most in MLB) along with 27 RBIs (2nd in MLB) in the month. His average has started to rise and is at .219 on the year with 25 HRs, 53 RBIs (13th in MLB), and .853 OPS (27th).
Another very underrated part of the season has been the pitching, both the starters and the bullpen. Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola have been great, exactly what we’ve needed from them. Wheeler is 7-4 (15th most wins) with a 2.66 ERA (14th in baseball), 99 strikeouts (14th in baseball), and a 1.07 WHIP (19th in baseball). Nola is 5-5 (not great), a 3.13 ERA (24th in baseball), 117 strikeouts (4th in MLB & 2nd in NL), and 0.92 WHIP (5th in baseball). They have been the leaders that we’ve needed with not a lot of consistency elsewhere in the rotation.
Somehow, someway the Phillies bullpen has been the BEST IN BASEBALL THE LAST TWO WEEKS. They are first in all the following categories for the last two weeks: ERA, FIP, WHIP, WAR, BB/9, BAA, and SIERA. In other terms, the 2022 MLB bullpen rankings based on fWAR (via Fangraphs) show that the Phillies are tied for tenth in the whole league with the Marlins, Tigers, and Red Sox.
The Phillies continue to surprise us this year and while it’s definitely tough to not get excited and optimistic about where this team could go this fall let’s all remind ourselves of the late-season dropoff that happens every year in August. I would love to see this team make the playoffs and hopefully be able to go to a Red October playoff game at the Bank but there's a lot of baseball left to be played.