Phillies still have plenty of work to do, especially among its key players

by Marc Narducci | Jun 12, 2023
Phillies still have plenty of work to do, especially among its key players
The Phillies are very much in the playoff hunt, despite a 32-33 record after Sunday’s 7-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. They entered Monday just 1.5 games out of the third and final wildcard spot. 

This season there appear to be more contenders for postseason berths, however, which will make it more difficult for the Phillies. Teams like Arizona, Pittsburgh, Miami, and even the Cincinnati Reds, who didn’t come close to contending last year, are at least at this point viable contenders. With most teams having 95 or more games left to play, there is a lot of baseball left, but the Phillies have to begin to show more consistency and they need it from their so-called stars.

Here are four players who need to step it up with more than 40 percent of the season having been played already: 

Bryce Harper - He came back so well from the Tommy John surgery, but has tailed off since his big start. One of the problems has been his struggles against lefthanded pitching. While he will face many more righthanders, through Sunday, Harper was hitting .200/.241/.280 in 50 at bats against lefthanders. And in 73 at bats against righties, Harper is crushing it to the tune of  .356/.473/.558. Harper, a two-time MVP, is graded on a higher curve. He also needs to show more power, with just three home runs in 124 at-bats. He is capable of much more. 

Trea Turner – Due to how well he played in the World Baseball Classic and in previous seasons with the Dodgers and Washington Nationals, Turner has been the Phillies’ biggest disappointment. There have been times when it appears as if he could be breaking out, but he hasn’t been able to sustain it. His .248 batting average through Sunday, was 50 points lower than his career average. One positive is that he has been having his best month in June. In the first 10 games he has played in June, Turner has a slash line of .317/.348/.537, his best this season. If Turner ends up the season anywhere near his career averages, then the Phillies will be major contenders for a playoff spot.

Kyle Schwarber – Schwarber is known for his June splurges, but he has to show that he can hit in the other months as well. He seems to be an all-or-nothing player, either hitting a home run, drawing walks or striking out. Through Sunday he was batting .171/.323/.430. While he had a team-leading 17 home runs, Schwarber has also struck out 79 times in his first 228 at bats. He had also walked 50 times. In his first 10 June games he was hitting .211/.348/.605 with four home runs. He had 11 strikeouts in 38 at bats. No matter how many home runs he hits, the average has to come up and the strikeouts need to come down.

Aaron Nola - It’s getting a little old that Nola keeps complaining about the pitch clock. Other pitchers have adapted to it. Nola continues to struggle with giving up the long ball. He has allowed home runs in 10 consecutive starts and has surrendered 14 in his first 14 starts, covering 88 innings. Last season he allowed 19 over 205 innings. He has other impressive stats such as 84 strikeouts and a 1.10 WHIP. This season, he has surrendered 23 walks. Last year in more than twice as many innings, he surrendered just 29 walks.  Nola has often been hurt by one big inning. He is a free agent after this season and so far this season, he certainly hasn’t boosted his stock. The Nola of last year is desperately needed. 

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Author: Marc Narducci

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