Phillies Pitching Is At Its Best
The Phillies pitching staff has proven they are one of the best in the league. Aaron Nola and the Phillies starting rotation are leading the way for the Phils. Aaron Nola has been amazing this year with a 2.41 ERA, going an unbelievable 11-2. He's also undefeated at home, going 9-0. His win-loss percentage and his home runs/9 innings are both the best in the National League. One of the things he has improved most from last year was his command with runners in scoring position. In the Phillies 4-1 victory against the Orioles on July 5th, Nola struck out nine in seven innings of work, only giving up 1 run. His curveball accounted for more than half of all of his strikeouts in the game. Nola is keeping his opponents batting average at .209, which is the second-best in the national league. He isn't a strikeout pitcher, but when the opponent puts the ball in play, it is most likely going into the ground to one of the Phillies infielders. 89% of the outs Nol has recorded has been either a ground out or a fly out. He's pitched 116 innings, only giving up 6 home runs, which is top 5 in the National League. He has proven he will be the Phillies ace for years to come. Another Phillies pitcher, Jake Arrieta, has been up and down this year. He has a 3.54 ERA, going 5-6 in 16 games. One thing that hasn't helped Arrieta is the defense behind him. The Phillies infield has given up many errors when he is pitching, way more than any other Phillies pitcher. He started the season hot, where it seemed like he was starting to return to his 2015 Cy Young form. But when June rolled along, the struggles started. His command wasn't there, the infield couldn't seem to execute a simple ground ball, and the batters were all over his fastball. Which is odd, because his fastball was his best pitch earlier in the season. Arrieta has shown his good side this season, but as of late he hasn't been the pitcher Phillies fans hoped he would be when they signed him. One shock out of the rotation was the success of Zach Eflin in June and July. He started the season in the minors and quickly proved that he was ready to come back to the majors. Right now, he was a 2.97 ERA, having an impressive 7-2 record. He has given up 5 home runs in 11 games started this season. Hopefully, Eflin can keep his hot streak going for the rest of the season.
One of the Phillies best parts is their bullpen. Yes, their bullpen. The bullpen that was awful last year has improved greatly from last season. Seranthony Dominguez has been stellar this season, with a 1.88 ERA in 28.2 innings pitched. Ever since Hector Neris went down to the minor leagues, the Phillies have struggled to find a closer. In the past couple weeks, Gabe Kapler has put Seranthony in save opportunities, and he has shown that he has the potential to become the Phillies closer for the rest of the season. For the first 2 weeks of the season, he didn't give up any earned runs. Adam Morgan has been pretty good this year. He has had a couple bad performances, but he has shown that he could become a staple in the Phillies bullpen in the years to come. His 5.32 ERA is one of the worst in the bullpen but has 23 strikeouts in 23.2 innings pitched. One thing to boost the already great bullpen is for Pat Neshek to recover from his injury and to come back as the all-star reliever like he was last season. Last year at the all-star break, Neshek has a 0.92 ERA, the best by a Phillies reliever at the all-star break since Brad Lidge in 2008. On June 30th, Vince Velasquez went out in the third inning with a broken arm against the Nationals. The bullpen came in and didn't give up a single run. Seranthony Dominguez capped it off with a two-inning save. The Phillies bullpen has had its struggles this season, but they have been hot recently.
A young manager means fresh ideas, and he's certainly brought some "interesting" ideas on how to use the bullpen. But, with a young bullpen, they have plenty of time to adapt to Gabe Kapler's ideas. The Phillies have shown that they are playoff contenders and if the Phils pitching staff performs how it has lately, they might have a shot at winning the NL East.