When the All-Star break came this year, the Philadelphia Phillies had a record of 29-62, worst in Major League Baseball. However, since the second half of the season started, the Phils have been on a tear, going 15-5 to post the best second-half record in all of baseball. They have actually climbed out of the National League East cellar, giving the keys to the Miami Marlins, go have lost nine of 10 games and went 5-18 in their first 23 games after the MLB betting break.
MLB Betting Updates: The Phillies Aren’t in Last Anymore
No, the Phillies are not going to make it all the way back to clinch the wild card. However, they can bring 2015 to a much better conclusion than how they started. Interim manager Pete Mackanin has the team at a game under .500 since he took the reins from Ryne Sandberg near the end of June, and there are many people calling for the team to keep Mackanin permanently. However, new Phillies president Andy MacPhail might want something else to happen in the City of Brotherly Love. If the Phillies can lose fewer than 100 games for the season, then Mackanin will have earned the job – but he has to get that nod from management as well.
So what’s making the difference? The Phillies have scored 5.1 runs per game while allowing only 3.9. The 3.9 number is just about the league average, but that offense is a major outlier. So what’s going on? The lineup’s six spots have seen a gradual improvement. Odubel Herrera, the center fielder that the Phillies acquired through the Rule 5 draft, is hitting .371 since the break, including a .436 average when he puts the ball in play. Ryan Howard has hit .269 since the break (.237 in the first half). Cesar Hernandez is hitting .314 (.226 first half). Domonic Brown is hitting .290 (.227 first half). So while these improvements aren’t huge, they are significant in comparison to the performance during the first half at each position. Since Ben Revere was shipped to Toronto, Herrera is playing every day as well.
You have to look at the pitching and defense as well to see the improvement, especially since Aaron Harang and Cole Hamels have been traded out of the rotation and Jonathan Papelbon is no longer the closer. The bullpen has gone 6-0 in the second half anyway, with a 2.61 ERA – and putting in an average of 3.2 innings per game. This is why the team has won all three of its extra inning games. Ken Giles, now the closer with Papelbon pitching in Washington, has six saves in his last six appearances and has struck out 12 of 24 batters in his last five appearances. Luis Garcia has eight consecutive scoreless appearances, and Jeanmar Gomez has been solid in middle relief, giving the Phils two perfect innings in a 12-inning victory over San Diego.
The Phillies have also had some more manageable opponents, with games against the Padres, Braves and Marlins that gave the Phils a 9-1 record. The team has gone 7-5 in its other games, including a sweep of the Cubs in Chicago. It will be interesting to see how many games these Phillies can win.