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Phillies Providing Plenty of Excitement

Phillies Providing Plenty of Excitement Phillies Providing Plenty of Excitement, Wins

Remember that disastrous beginning of the MLB season when the Phillies went 1-2 against the Atlanta Braves and dropped both games in New York against the Mets and the fans were ready to drive rookie manager Gabe Kapler out of town?

Fans felt that Kapler was managing by analytics instead of by instinct, especially after Aaron Nola was pulled opening day after throwing just 68 pitches and leading 5-0 with one out the sixth inning.

Two games later Kapler went to the mound to order reliever Hoby Milner in the game even though the lefthander had not warmed up?

Kapler was fodder for disgruntled sports talk callers and hosts. He even got roundly booed opening day and in days after when he would go to the mound.

This isn’t to say that Kaper has turned the corner, but he boos should diminish because the Phillies are playing some exciting baseball.

Many expected them to be a playoff contender next year, but Kapler, even when the Phillies started poorly, was saying he expects to contend for a postseason berth.

And while 14 games in a 162-game schedule doesn’t amount to much, the Phillies are playing with confidence. They were 9-5 to begin the week and they are starting to do what the 76ers did when rising to prominence this year – beating the so-called bad teams on their schedule.

That included consecutive three-game sweeps over Cincinnati and Tampa Bay and winning two of three before that against Miami.

The Phillies, as recently as last year, were one of those bad teams, but now this is a young roster with great promise. Adding free agent pitcher Jake Arrieta on a three-year $75 million deal, will no doubt help stabilize the starting rotation.

The Phillies are an exciting and young everyday lineup and the bullpen has been solid. Whether they are indeed a playoff team, will depend on if they can get consistent starting pitching.

Besides Arrieta and Nola, the other three starters are Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Ben Lively. Pivetta and Velasquez, who had been inconsistent have been impressive in the early going. Lively could lose his rotation spot if he doesn’t pick it up.

The Phillies actually have a pleasant problem – too many starting caliber position players and outfielders.

Kapler is preaching versatility and nobody exemplifies that more than rookie Scott Kingery. It was Kaper who apparently pushed the hardest for Kingery after he had a sizzling exhibition season.

Kingery has rewarded his manager’s confidence. He has already played second base, shortstop, third base, left field and right field.

His best position is second base, but the Phillies have Cesar Hernandez there. It was assumed that the Phillies would try to trade Hernandez, but he is an extremely valuable piece, so unless they get overwhelmed by an offer, they will continue this arrangement.

Kingery and leftfielder Rhys Hoskins are considered future all-stars (which might happen this year at least for one of them).

At the very least this should be an interesting season for the Phillies. Even if they don’t earn a playoff berth, this team is much better than last year’s 66-96 edition and it is continuing to trend upwards.

Photography credit: Frank Romeo / Shutterstock.com

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Author: Marc Narducci

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