The opening week series against the Reds was tough to witness, but this past one against the Braves was probably the most nerve wracking Phillies baseball I have watched so far this season. What we needed was something along the lines of 30 runs scored, 6-7 home runs, and a sweep against a Braves team that sits dead last in almost every offensive category and near the bottom in pitching. Instead, it was status quo all over again in the form of clutch hits and a lights out bullpen. The Phillies are now 20-15, 1.5 gb of first place in the NL East.
Phillies 3 Braves 2
Adam Morgan straight up dealt. 7 strong, 4 hits and 1 walk. His fastball is finally starting to show some serious life as the average velocity is sitting right around 92 mph, a 3 mph increase from 2015. Morgan, who has a 4 pitch arsenal that includes a curve, slider and change up has really mixed all his pitches in well and it continues to show as his SO/9 ratio continues to climb from last season. What Morgan is still struggling with is keeping hitters to hit the ball on the ground as his GB/FB sits at .89, well below the major league average of 1.32. I am loving what I am seeing out of Morgan so far. Continue to watch him as the warm weather will only help his shoulder progress from a 2014 torn rotator cuff.
Maikel Franco provided us with some offense as he belted a solo shot in the 8th and added two more hits. I’m probably the millionth person to say this, but Maikel just needs to start being patient. He is only averaging 3.58 pitchers per plate appearance which is well below the league average and is batting .250 with runners in scoring position. If he wants to continue hitting in the 3 hole, adjustments need to be made.
Braves 5 Phillies 1
I’ve seen some shitty Phillies baseball in my day, but this one was on a different level. Hours after scheduled starter Jhoulys Chacin was traded to the Angels, Williams Perez made the spot start and absolutely stymied this Phillies lineup over 8 innings. I honestly thought Perez was former BoSox legend, Rich Garces for a second when I saw him on the mound.
Ryan Howard, with his signature solo shot down 3 runs was the only offense the Phillies were able to muster.
With 8 home runs through the team’s first 35 games, he is currently on pace for 37 on the year. If he keeps up this pace, he has the potential to hit more home runs than singles. He currently sits at 9 of those. For all you stat junkies out there, this is one you definitely need to be monitoring.
Phillies 7 Braves 4 in 10 innings
If you were watching closely, Vinny the K was pumping his fastball. It was untouchable and moving all over the strike zone. Then for some reason he stayed away from it in the 7th inning and went with the off speed. He began falling behind in the count and before we knew it, the game was 4-3 and Vinny was pulled before recording an out. The reigns were handed off to our bullpen who pitched into extras without allowing an earned run. The offense then turned to Mr. Exit Velocity himself, Cameron Rupp who knocked in a bases clearing double in the 10th to give the Phillies a 7-4 lead.
This doesn’t come as much of a surprise. He his generously listed at 6′ 1″, and 240 lbs and if you look at the size of him, he should probably be hitting balls harder than that.
In Other News
Slugging Tommy Joseph is finally getting his call up to the bigs. The catching prospect, turned first baseman was traded to the Phillies from San Francisco in exchange for Hunter Pence in 2012. A well received trade at the time, concussions in 2012, 2013 and 2015 led many to believe this was just another failed acquisition from the Ruben Amaro era. Low and behold, Joseph has been putting on a hitting clinic at AAA Lehigh Valley this season, leading the International League in OPS. He also has 6 home runs and 17 RBI in 27 games for the Iron Pigs.
Tommy Joseph on his way to the Phillies. Here's what he's been doing to Triple-A pitching. pic.twitter.com/RsnkZt2YCn
— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) May 13, 2016
Stats aside, the one important thing that we need to realize about the kid is that he is finally healthy. He hasn’t played over 100 in a season since games since 2012 and that has really hurt his progression. The Phils used Darin Ruf’s last option to the minors. After hitting .158 on the season so far, it’s do or die time for him now.
Last thing, make sure you all cast your vote for Cody Asche to represent the Phillies in the 2016 All Star Game. There isn’t a more deserving player this year. Ehh fuck it, might as well go Bourjos too.