With Memorial Day just a weekend away, summer, and the heat which it brings, is on its way. Yet, in Philadelphia the weather is not the only thing heating up. So are your Phillies.
With the Phillies on a five game winning streak it is safe to say that the boys of Philadelphia are hot, the hottest they have been since last July. While this statistic in itself may prove to many to be more embarrassing than hopeful as it has been close to ten months since the Phillies have won five games straight, I am an optimistic fan, and I believe that such advancements in the Phillies organization could be a sign of change and good fortune moving forward.
To begin with, this five game winning streak comes at a time when players are being moved around within the system. The most celebrated change was that of promoting twenty-two-year old prospect, Maikel Franco to MLB. However, to do this the Phillies had to make a more controversial move to make room for Franco to be allotted time as the starting third baseman by sending down third basemen Cody Asche to Triple-A. As many of us know, this demotion was fairly different than the common reasoning of ill performance as Asche started off the season with one of the better bats on the team. Rather, GM Ruben Amaro Jr.’s decision to send Asche down to Triple-A was to convert him into a left fielder. Fans and followers of the Phillies question the validity of such a move in the middle of the season; however, I see it as not only a great opportunity for Maikel Franco but also as a shift in Amaro’s vision of rebuilding as he finally seems to be looking towards the future.
While Franco’s entrance into the big leagues was a bit rough for him going 0-4 with a strikeout which made the poor guy look foolish, he quickly got his act together two games later by going 2-4 with 2 RBIs, a triple landing inches away from the top of the fence, and his first major league home run.
With Franco’s effort, the rest of the team has been contributing offensively as well which is something Phillies’ fans have begun to forget could even occur within the boundaries of Citizens Bank Park. Over the past three days, the Phillies (yes the Phillies) have scored the eighth most runs per game in all of baseball. While this statistic seems mediocre at best, throughout the entire season the Phillies have scored, on average, the least of all Major League teams. So, to move from the worst to eighth in the league in average runs scored, even if it is only over a three-day span, is something to be happy about in Philadelphia.
Contributions to such strides over the past three days have been wholesome as twelve different players have contributed in run making. However, here are a few notables:
- Maikel Franco – 1 Homerun, 3 Runs, 2 RBIs
- Chase Utley – 1 Run, 2 RBIs
- Ryan Howard – 2 2B, 1 Run, 2 RBI’s
- Freddy Galvis – 3 Runs, 2 RBIs
Another norm which Phillies’ fans have become accustomed to is poor pitching. Over the past few years, the Phillies have quickly gone from the best pitching team in baseball to one of the worst. Long lost are the Four Aces as this year the Phillies have continuously sat at the bottom half of the league in earned run average. Yet, like the Phillies’ bats over this streak of wins, the Phillies’ arms are heating up as well. Over the past three games, the Phillies’ pitching staff has had the sixth lowest ERA of all teams in the league allowing only an average of 2.33 runs per game.
Again, here are some of the notables in the pitching department:
- Sean O’Sullivan – 6 IP, 5 Hits, 0 Earned Runs
- Luis Garcia – 3 IP, 1 Hit, 0 Earned Runs
- Chad Billingsley – 6 IP, 7 Hits, 2 Earned Runs
While many will peg the Phillies recent success on the fact that they have been playing the Diamondbacks, I, as aforementioned, am an optimistic fan. I think that the recent changes that have been made to the Phillies lineup have been a big part of their success. Whether it be the addition of Maikel Franco, the demotion of Cody Asche, or even dropping Chase Utley to the sixth spot in the lineup to take some pressure off of his back there has been positive changes which have sparked results. In saying this, I hope and pray that the current momentum and swagger that the Phillies are playing with continues further into the season and propels us into a somewhat respectable rebuilding year.
To finish, and not to get ahead of myself, here are two of the biggest mid season turnarounds in baseball history: the 2013 Los Angles Dodgers started off the season at a low of 31 wins with 42 losses but rebounded and finished the year 92-70 while the 1969 New York Mets started off the season with a record of 18-23, yet they finished the season with a record of 100-62.
It’s enough to give you hope.