What to Expect from The Phillies in 2018
Even the most critical Philadelphia sports fans need to admit that the Phillies are looking like even more of a stellar team and a lineup of worthy competitors for the 2018 season.
After seeing almost 100 losses last year, Phillies fans are looking toward a hopeful future for their beloved baseball team. Not to dwell on the past, but last year’s season was disastrous until a surprising turnaround that came too late to undo most of the scrutiny put on the team. As of July 2017, the Phillies had the second lowest number of runs in the league. It was a rough time to be a Philly fan. There’s no denying that the start of the season is integral to establishing the team’s spirit, and the excitement of fans to attend games and proudly wear the team’s.
Luckily, 2018 is looking much brighter with a strong start to the season. The lineup may still be slightly greener than what would be ideal, but they are showing signs that they have been working on tactics and strength in order to take on the 2018 season on a much more positive note. After the end of the season’s first quarter, here’s how the Phillies are doing so far.
Apparently,His for hittersand heroes. Cesar Hernandez, Odubel Herrera, and Rhys Hoskins are leading the team in hits thus far. Hernandez and Hoskins are both maintaining their fantastic record from last year, although Hoskins was out for the first half of last year season. Herrera, although having his strong points through 2017, had more serious resetting to do both offensively and defensively. In order for him to maintain his star status (and keep fans starry eyed) throughout the season, consistency is key.
Aaron Nolafinished strong last season and is looking even better so far this year. He has the sixth best earned run average of all starters and walks onto the pitcher mound with a quiet confidence that definitely continues in his playing ability. If Nola keeps up his current playing abilities, he will definitely carry the team through the season. Ben Livelyhas been striking players out with ease but has been somewhat shaky with giving more hits that end up scoring big for the opposition.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler reminded fans that Nola is a top-10 pitcher, and that his performance at the start of the season is just “Nola being Nola”. But as can happen a lot of times, select players can shine early in the season and then experience a couple of rough games or an injury. This happens team by team, or within the league as a whole. Glorifying one or a handful of players to become the “face of baseball” can result in devastating consequences for players and fans alike. Remembering that players are human and require occasional breaks from extreme criticism or even idolization is essential to the sport.
In terms of who else to watch, Nick Pivettaput on a great show against the Giants. He pitched five innings and ended up with seven strikeouts. Although the Phillies resist against having an official closer, Hector Neris provided an impressive conclusion against the Giants. Kapler says that it is better for them as a team to send the final pitcher in on a case-by-case basis, versus giving opponents a certain pitcher who they can count on seeing to close the game.
The Phils Are Full of Surprises, Even at The Beginning
Overall, fans and critics alike anticipated more conflict and inconsistency to start the season. Is this one of those cases where you set your bar of expectations somewhere in the middle, and anything above that seems like a win? Maybe, but there’s a good chance they can lead their division. Noting a handful of missed opportunities in earlier games is valid, but their first game against the San Francisco Giantshad signs of a very early comeback. The Phillies won all four games in their first round facing the formidable team this season. Phillies pitchers struck out 55 batters and only allowed nine walks during those games. If those aren’t good odds for the Phillies, it’s hard to say what is.
The Phillies definitely have a formidable opponent in the Mets, who are the long-established rivals of the Philadelphia team. Although New York City and Philadelphia are rivals by default in many ways, the Phillies vs. Mets rivalry has really kicked it up a notch since the mid 2000’s. How the Phillies are performing this season will be tested even more when they face the Mets.
What About Kapler’s New Management Style?
In addition to the players themselves, new manager Gabe Kapleris likely to use new tactics that should work well with a team that’s still finding their place. As noted by sports talk host Joe Giglio, Kapler’s strategieslikely wouldn’t do well with a veteran team. But the current Phillies lineup is still working on labeling themselves as being truly established, and it’s looking like the young manager with a fresh take will help elevate the team to their deserved status this season.
Skeptics should be reminded that nothing is set in stone. Just because a team or player has a certain track record, the beauty of the sport is how quickly the odds can shift. However, baseball is a numbers game. Kapler’s nontraditional early tactics definitely had observers confused, and some ready to put his head on the chopping block after only a few weeks into his new job. But his statistic-heavy managing methods are already showing signs of bringing a positive change to the team.
It’s very possible that the Phillies are catching the winning fever. After the Eagles’ Super Bowl win and an amazing Sixers comeback this year, Philly sports fans are even more excited to be just that: Philly sports fans. We’ll have to see if the Phillies can continue the 2018 momentum, but it’s looking like they have a fighting chance.