Sorry I've been missing for two series. This week was our 10th anniversary and we spent Friday in Philly, it's where we honeymooned, so we return every year. And I forgot the Atlanta series started yesterday.
The Phillies have struggled a bit recently, but I feel the need to point this out. If you take June away from the season, the Phillies are 38-38.
Think about that for a minute.
Now, you can't discount all of June. The 2016 Phillies are a below-.500 team, that's for sure. But I think they're a bit better than their 47-57 mark.
Aaron Altherr's return is a nice thing.
I think the next two months are really about seeing what the team has for 2017.
These roster spots should be locked down:
Zach Eflin, Jerad Eickhoff, Maikel Franco, Tommy Joseph, Tyler Goeddel, Odubel Herrera, Hector Neris, Aaron Nola, Edubray Ramos, Cameron Rupp, and Vincent Velasquez.
Each has had his ups and downs this season, but each one has proven they belong on a roster. Maybe Tyler Goeddel is the fourth or fifth outfielder, but the 23-year-old jumped two levels and showed a ton of promise. Maybe he doesn't start the season with the team, but he should spend some time on it.
I'd tentatively put Aaron Altherr on that list, too. If we can see 25-30 starts the rest of the way, we'll know a bit more about him and we can be a bit more confident in what he can bring to the table.
A few other characters have struggled, but proven they could be on the roster, but in different roles in 2017. Cesar Hernandez or Freddy Galvis might be a back-up infielder. I lean toward Hernandez just because he gets on-base at a clip above .300. Severino Gonzalez is also intriguing.
Now, however, it's time to see some new faces, even if it's for a small sample size.
The Phillies could promote Jake Thompson any day now. It will be nice to see what he can do over 5-7 starts at the big league level. JP Crawford has turned it around in Triple-A. Seeing him play 25 games at short the rest of the way would be worthwhile. I'm not sold Nick Williams has to be called up. The 18-90 walk to strikeout ratio bothers me.
The Phils have progressed. A year ago, they had the worst record in baseball and we knew very little about the players who would be around in three years. Now we see some spots in the order being sewn up. Herrera can be an All-Star. Franco can be a middle of the order bat. Nola, Eickhoff and Velasquez can be trusted with about 600 innings at the big league level.
The Phillies are not one of the worst teams in baseball anymore. Right now, nine teams have worse records. The Phillies could catch a couple of teams, but that might not be in their best interests. If they stay within the 10 worst records in baseball, they can sign a free agent without losing a draft pick.
By the end of the season, the Phillies will know how good they can be in 2017. My guess is above .500, but not quite a Wild Card game participant. They'll have to play their cards right, but they're certainly on their way.