The Phillies are off to a nice 6-2 start to begin the season and the fans in Philadelphia are extremely excited to have their baseball team contending again. Despite being so early on in a 162 game season, there are some notes to take away for the Phillies over their first three series.
Consistency, Finally: One of the things that Gabe Kapler stressed during Spring Training is having a lineup that will go out almost every day in the same batting order and in the same position on the field and so far that has been the case. Minus Saturday where JT Realmuto got the day off for backup catcher Andrew Knapp, everyone has been in the same spot. Get used to the McCutchen-Segura-Harper-Hoskins-Realmuto-Herrera-Hernandez-Franco order because we will be seeing a lot of it.
Shaky Bullpen Continues: It was a little bit of a surprise to see that the Phillies mainly stayed put with their bullpen after its shakiness last season. They added David Robertson and Jose Alvarez who are both off to extremely poor starts to begin the season. They currently rank 16th in the MLB in bullpen ERA, but with the high powered offense to start the year the pitchers have had some relative wiggle room to give up some runs. They can’t rely on that as the season goes along.
Surprise Closer Emerges: Gabe Kapler seemed extremely hesitant to name the Phillies’ closer before the season began. Through the first 7 games, there was no save opportunities so it was still a relative question mark. However in game number 8, Kapler surprisingly went to Hector Neris who went 1/2/3 to get the Phils’ first save of the season. With the addition of David Robertson and emergence of Seranthony Dominguez last year, Kapler’s chess move of going with Neris was rather unexpected. It looks like he will be in the drivers seat, at least for now.
The New Additions Are Fitting in Quite Well: This offense is rocking and rolling right now. Other than a relative slow start for JT Realmuto, the new hitters in the Phillies lineup have been extremely solid. The two that have started out the hottest have been Jean Segura and of course, Bryce Harper. Segura is batting a .324 in the #2 hole while scoring 9 runs (the most on the team). Harper, who hits behind him has started off hot with a .385 average and an OBP of .556 due to him walking 10 times, as well. Combine that with Rhys Hoskins hitting behind him playing well and this 2-3-4 can compete with any team’s heart of the order.
Keep an Eye on Eflin: The experts seemed to pick Nick Pivetta to be the breakout pitcher in the Phillies rotation, but Zach Eflin has been the surprise so far through his two starts. Eflin, labeled as the 4th starter behind Aaron Nola, Pivetta and Jake Arrieta, pitched a gem yesterday to move to 2-0. Eflin now has a 0.75 ERA, 14 strikeouts and 1 walk through his first 12 innings of work. The Phillies could really use a dependable second starter to Nola as that truly is a question mark to begin the 2019 campaign.