5 Phillies that must step up down the stretch

The Phillies had a great opportunity to separate themselves from the Marlins in a seven-game series this past weekend, but now find themselves behind the Marlins with 14 games to play. An aggravating season got worse this weekend as the Phillies looked lifeless against a scrappy Marlins team, losing the series 5-2.

After a solid performance by Jake Arrieta in game one Thursday night, Tommy Hunter and Brandon Workman combined to blow the game in the 8th after a two out bases clearing double by new Marlins star Starling Marte. The only bright spot from the series was an 11-0 blowout in game one of Friday’s double header, as the offense soared and Aaron Nola pitched a gem.

With the Phillies currently sitting at 23-23 and holding the first Wildcard spot, the Mets come into town for a three-game series that the Phillies have to win. The Phillies are trending in the wrong direction after they won 9 out of 10 just over a week ago. Injuries to JT Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins this weekend really put a damper in an offense that was soaring. JT is not expected to miss much more time, while Rhys Hoskins lands on the 10-day Injured List, but is expected to return by the end of the season.

With two weeks to play, if the Phillies want to see the postseason for the first time in nine years, these Phillies will have to step up in a big way.

Bryce Harper

After an extremely fast start to the season where Bryce was batting well over .300 and driving the ball all over the field, he has entered a Rhys Hoskins level slump.

Harper has shown signs of coming out of the slump tallying extra base hits in his last three games including an opposite field homerun. In his last 14 games he is batting just .208 with 3 doubles, 1 homerun and 1 RBI. If Bryce continues down this trend, the Phillies would most likely miss the playoffs and possible not finish over .500. John Middleton opened up the checkbook for a superstar and the Phillies need Bryce to be that start in the final 14.

David Phelps

What a terrible move this has been so far.

David Phelps has been one of the best late relief pitchers over his last three seasons, posting ERAs of 3.12 in 2017, 3.41 in 2019 and had a 2.77 ERA before being acquired at the deadline this season. in six games in a Phillies uniform, Phelps has an era of 13.50 and has been taken deep five times in just 5.1 innings of work.

I can’t point my finger at Klentak for this one, Phelps has had a great track record throughout his career and was familiar with Joe Girardi, but man has this been a train wreck move. If Phelps can buckle down and keep the ball in the ballpark and start throwing some zeros, it will go a long way in clinching a postseason spot.

Hector Neris

The way Brandon Workman is trending right now, Hector Neris could find himself pitching in the closer role again soon. Neris looked flat at the beginning of the season with his fastball only peaking in the low 90s, add that with his lack of control early on, he was opening the door for other teams to steal games.

In his last 14 days, Neris has found his old self pitching to an elite 1.42 era in 6.1 innings. If Neris can continue to pound the strike zone and fool hitters with his splitter, the Phillies have a chance to win close contests. Blake Parker and Hector Neris need to lockdown the 8th and 9th innings these next 14 games to give this team a chance.

Zach Eflin

With Spencer Howard landing on the Injured list most likely until the end of the season and Zack Wheeler struggling to put his pants on, the Phillies are going to need Eflin/Arrieta/Velasquez to step up.

I focus on Eflin because I believe he is easily the most polished pitcher out of the three and has the most potential to grow with the Phillies. Depending on how long Wheeler is absent, the Phillies are going to need someone to compliment Aaron Nola at the top of the rotation.

Eflin currently has a high era of 5.01 but he has flashed signs of his potential this year as he dominated the Braves a few starts ago. With how much the bullpen has struggled, the Phillies need the rotation to hold it together and keep their offense in games early on. If Eflin can step up over his next three starts he could help save a team that feels like its free falling.

Joe Girardi

Girardi is going to have a difficult task these next 14 games. His offense is banged up, his rotation is banged up and his bullpen is horrific. Now is not the time for excuses though its time to buckle down and chase that playoff spot, wether its the second division spot over the Marlins or holding onto the wildcard spot.

Girardi might have to overwork his successful bullpen arms and bank on Nola to go very deep into his last few starts. The lineup is sure to be moving all over the place with Hoskins out and Kingery back, so trying to find a balance is crucial to this teams success.

Starting tonight the Phillies will play three against the Mets, four against the Blue Jays at home, then finish the season on the road with four against the Nationals and three games against top American League club the Tampa Bay Rays.

If the Phillies want to reach the Postseason I believe they need to go 9-5 to overcome the Marlins for second place and 8-6 to hold onto the Wildcard Position. A team that had such high expectations this preseason will be put to the test while trending in the wrong direction.


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