Saturday, April 22, 2017

16 games in, what have we learned?

One tenth of the season is in the books. So what have we learned about the 2017 Phillies?
They sit at 7-9, in fourth place in the National League East. The offense is sixth, sixth, fourth and seventh in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. The pitching staff is 15th in ERA, 14th in home runs, 13th in strikeouts and 5th in walks.
So the Phillies are a mediocre team that will win 70-75 games, right.
Well, maybe not.

Let's take a look.

Are the Phillies better than their record?

The Phillies are plus-3 in run differential. Now, you could argue that is thanks to a 17-3 whooping of the Washington Nationals. But don't forget the Phillies got thumped by the Mets 14-4 in a different game. Take away those games and the Phillies are at 0 in the plus-minus, which would theoretically put them at 8-8.

Two other things impact the Phillies record. First, they've played two of the expected best teams in the league in all but three of their games so far. They've gone 5-7 in those games. The Phillies' early season schedule has them playing a ton of games against the Nationals (12), Mets (6), Cubs (4), Dodgers (3) and Rangers (3) in their first 42 games. That's 28 games against expected World Series contenders. They also play 3 games each against the Mariners and Pirates during that stretch. I said at the beginning of the year that the Phillies could start the season 16-26 and still end up being a good team. Opening the stretch with a 7-9 mark is a good beginning.

Second, the Phillies biggest weakness so far is the bullpen; it won't end up a weakness. Adam Morgan and Jeanmar Gomez have double-digit ERAs while Joely Rodriguez has an ERA above 6. Morgan has already been sent down. Sure, Gomez might not end up in the closer's role again, but he had a 3.59 ERA, 3.84 FIP and 1.324 WHIP from 2013-2016. That's too long a record of success for him to not rebound. The bullpen should also get some help as the starters start pitching deeper into games. In the squad's first 16 games, starters have pitched seven or more innings three times and pitched five or fewer innings seven times. That has to change. If the starters aren't more reliable going deeper into games, then they will be replaced by guys who can.

How have injuries affected the team?

Injuries affect every team. The Phillies have had two main injuries so far this season. First, Clay Buchholtz was likely lost to the season. Second, Howie Kendrick, who started the season on fire, injured his core. He should recover.
The Phillies also saw one of their pitching prospects, Zach Eflin, start the season recovering from an injury. He's already joined the big league club and contributing.

What's to like?

How about the Cesar Hernandez? He's picking up right where he left off last year. He's hitting .324 with a .358 OBP. Amazingly, he's got three home runs and three stolen bases in four attempts. But he's also struck out 21 times.
Jeremy Hellickson looks really good, too. He's got an ERA below 2. He's barely walking anyone and he's really keeping batters off balance.
Hector Neris has been filthy.
Aaron Nola is healthy and has 15 strikeouts against six walks in 16 innings.
Jerad Eickhoff continues to be reliable.
Aaron Altherr is tearing the cover off the ball, hitting .360/.407/.600.

What's not to like?

The Bullpen has been mostly atrocious. We already talked about that.
Maikel Franco is hitting home runs. He's got 3, which puts him on pace for 30. He's 13 runs batted in, which puts him on pace for 130. But he's hitting .164/.246/.344/.591. Interestingly, he's only got 10 strikeouts. So it's just the batting average on balls in play that are killing him. He's on pace for fewer strikeouts and more walks than last season.
Cameron Rupp and Tommy Joseph have provided negligible offense, combining for 2 home runs, 16 extra-base hits and nine walks.
Vincent Velasquez has been inefficient. That's putting it nicely. He pitched four innings in his first start and five in his second. He's given up four home runs already.

What's it like in the Minor Leagues?

 Despite Lehigh Valley making a trip to my back yard, I haven't seen any minor leaguers in person yet. So this is just going to be based off of numbers.

For the Iron Pigs, JP Crawford has struggled mightily, batting below .100. Dylan Cozens has also struggled so far, despite hitting three home runs. Meanwhile Jorge Alfaro is collecting a ton of hits. He's batting .333. But he only has one walk and three extra-base hits against 15 strikeouts. Nick Williams has overcome some early season scuffles to hit .283/.306/.435. Jesmuel Valentin is torching the ball, hitting .333/.391/.452. Roman Quinn is healthy. Rhys Hoskins has a .361/.426/.644 slash line.
Jake Thompson has struggled on the mound, already getting tagged for an ERA above 14 and three losses. But the team has had some strong pitching. Nick Pivetta has an ERA below 1 and 24 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched. Ricardo Pinto has an ERA below 2. Mark Leiter Jr. also pitched well in two games.
In Reading, Scott Kingery and Andrew Pullin are hitting well. In Clearwater, Cornelius Randolph has shown some pop. Franklin Kilome and Cole Irvin have pitched well.
At Lakewood, Mickey Moniak, Daniel Brito and Cord Sandberg are playing well. Adonis Garcia, Bailey Falter and Sixto Sanchez have pitched effectively, too. 


GM-Carson said...

Another blown save. 6 HR in 9th inning and beyond allowed by Phillies pitching so far.

GM-Carson said...

I do not believe Jeanmar bounces back. Terrible post All Star break last season and continues to disappoint so far this year, another run surrendered tonight.

The pitching needs to get its shit together. Biggest disappointment this season thus far.

ripjgarcia said...

well you certainly don't see that every day.

GM-Carson said...

Love the sweep over the Braves. Playing .500 ball despite some stiff competition from the Nats and Mets.

ripjgarcia said...

Just a few managerial decisions away from a very good start.

GM-Carson said...

Nola to DL :(

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