As the first month of the season has come and went, the Phillies sit at 11-12, tied for 2nd in the NL East, a division which is firmly in the grasp of the Washington Nationals, so far. It’s been a respectable start for the Phillies, despite playing relatively poor opponents to begin the season. There are definitely some stats and storylines to take away from the first month of the MLB schedule.
Cesar Hernandez’s Hot April: The first at bat of the season for Cesar was a homer put into the 8th row against the Cincinnati Reds, and he has played into the starting 2B spot for this season and potentially years to come. The leadoff man is currently batting .323, the highest among the usual starters in the lineup and already has 4 home runs (after having only 6 the season before). Despite his strikeout numbers being up, his other stats has kept the Venezuelan rolling early in the season.
The Starting Rotation? Eh: They haven’t been horrible, but they certainly haven’t been outstanding. Jeremy Hellickson has been a stud, going 4-0 in his first 5 starts of the season with an ERA at 1.80. The other starters? Not so much. Clay Bucholz got rocked twice before going on the DL. Vince Velasquez has had brutal command problems that has led him to a 6.33 ERA. Aaron Nola has been okay, but still has an ERA above 4 to start the season. They’ve gotten lucky to get 11 wins so far in 23 games with their starters being just okay.
Triples Galore: The Phillies rank in the middle tier in almost every hitting statistic, except one. Yes, the Phillies are currently second in the MLB in triples, having 8 in their first 23 games (trailing only the Pirates who have 9 in 24 games). The Phillies don’t have a particularly quick team which makes this stat relatively surprising, with six different players having at least one. On top of that, despite the Phillies batting average being relatively mediocre, just over 38% of their hits are extra base hits, a solid number.
The Post-Ryan Howard 1B Nightmare Continues: The Phillies have gone through many options at first base since Ryan Howard’s playing time decreased, but they still can’t seem to find the right one. Tommy Joseph played well towards the middle to end of last season, but he has struggled mightily this season, batting just .179 and hitting only 1 home run as a power hitter. Reports have said that they are trying to practice Howie Kendrick, normally a second baseman or outfielder, at first when he comes back from injury.
The New Additions? All Over The Board: The Phillies made an array of additions during this offseason, which have really had mixed results so far. Daniel Nava and Pat Neshek have been solid, with Nava hitting extremely well and Neshek yet to give up a run in his first nine games out of the bullpen. Howie Kendrick got off to a decent start, but has been on the DL with a strained oblique. On the other side, Michael Saunders has been relatively disappointing at the plate to begin the 2017 campaign.
The Phillies get their May underway with a trip to Wrigley Field to face the defending champion Chicago Cubs.