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Phillies Off to a Solid Start with Room to Improve

Phillies Off to a Solid Start with Room to Improve
The Phillies fell to 19-15 with Monday’s 6-0 loss to the host St. Louis Cardinals, but despite that defeat, they find themselves in good shape in a National League East Division that hasn’t been as strong as forecasted.
 
It’s so early to be looking at the standings, but fellow NL East contenders have battled either injuries and/or inconsistency.
 
The Atlanta Braves were two games behind the first place Phillies, while the New York Mets were four games out and Washington, most people’s preseason favorite, stood 5.5 games out.
 
The Miami Marlins?
 
Forget about them. They will be lucky to avoid 100 losses.
 
The Phillies have had their share of injuries. Key reserve infielder Scott Kingery remains out with a hamstring injury. Reliever David Robertson also remains idled with an elbow injury.
 
The Phillies struggled when shortstop Jean Segura was out with a hamstring injury. With all the offseason additions, the acquisition of Segura from the Seattle Mariners remains among the biggest move for the Phillies.
 
Through Tuesday he was hitting a team-high .337 and has given the Phillies solid defense at short.
 
First baseman Rhys Hoskins has been among the best power hitters in baseball, with 10 home runs and 31 RBI.
 
J.T. Realmuto, another key offseason acquisition who came in a trade with the Marlins, has lived up to his reputation as arguably the best catcher in baseball.
 
He has not only provided the expected offense, but has been great working with the pitching staff.
 
And another reason to have optimism for the Phillies, is that their top offseason acquisition Bryce Harper, has not gotten off to the greatest of starts.
 
Actually, Harper began on fire, but cooled off considerably and after Monday was hitting just .226, but did have 10 doubles, six home runs and 21 RBI.
 
Outfielder Andrew McCutchen, signed to a three-year, $50 million free agent contract, also has tailed off after a hot start. He was hitting .248.
 
One has to figure that Harper and McCutchen, both former MVP’s, will hit their stride.
 
As for pitching, ace Aaron Nola had a rocky beginning but he also has pitched much better in his last few starts.
 
Jake Arrieta (4-2, 3.40) has gotten off to a solid start and Zach Eflin (4-3, 3.00) has also showed great potential.
 
Jerad Eickhoff, who began the season in the minors, has pitched well in his first three starts. Vince Velasquez, who was the losing pitcher in Monday’s loss to the Cardinals, remains a work in progress.
 
So does the bullpen, which has had its ups and downs.
 
The Phillies are capable of playing much better. Whether Washington, Atlanta and the New York Mets can stay with the Phillies in light of their injuries remains to be seen.

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Sure, the Phillies face plenty of challenges, but considering everything the part of the season has gone well and has a chance to improve.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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