May 29, 2019
After splitting their four-game series against the Cubs in Chicago, the Phillies have won three of their last four, including taking two of three from the Brewers, a nice bit of revenge after Milwaukee took three of four earlier this month in Philly.
Currently 2.5 games ahead of the Braves for the National League East lead and 10 games over .500, Gabe Kapler has his team playing some good baseball of late, despite continued struggles from the starting rotation and inconsistent bullpen play. The time could soon be coming for the Phillies to address those issues, but, for now, Kapler & Co. are looking to make improvements from within, whether that means giving Vince Velasquez a shot at pitching in relief, calling up hard-throwing JD Hammer, or giving Nick Pivetta another crack at a starting job.
Right now, however, the biggest issue hanging over the Phillies is how they plan to address centerfield should Odubel Herrera, who was arrested for domestic abuse in Atlantic City, be suspended or released at the conclusion of MLB's investigation into the incident. For the time being, it will be Nick Williams and Scott Kingery splitting time in centerfield, which seemed to work just fine on Tuesday night when the Phillies beat the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park.
As we prepare to flip the calendars to June, let's take a look at where the first-place Phillies (32-22) currently check in on various national power rankings...
|WHAT THEY'RE SAYING...|
|6 (--)||The Phillies split a four-game series at Chicago's Wrigley Field last week before winning two of three at Miller Park in Milwaukee over the weekend. That's a pretty good stretch against the cream of the crop in the National League Central, and they'll get to test their mettle against another NL Central foe this week with the Cardinals traveling to Citizens Bank Park for a three-game set...|
|7 (+1)||The race for second-best NL team is something of a toss-up these days. There’s not a ton of distance between the Phillies, Cubs and Brewers. The Phillies get the top spot this week after beating the Brewers in a series last week and splitting with the Cubs.|
|7 (--)||Bryce Harper leads the majors in strikeouts.|
|6 (-1)||The Phillies are still the most consistent team in the NL East, and they haven't hit their stride yet. Bryce Harper is hitting .230 on the season, but what's more concerning is his lack of power. He's hitting to a 110 OPS+, 27 points lower than his career average...|
|8 (+1)||Last week I mentioned how the Phillies had played one of the easiest schedules in the majors but had an upcoming tough slate. This week, they split four games against the Cubs and took two of three in Milwaukee. That'll play.|
|9 (+1)||The bullpen -- and manager Gabe Kapler's unorthodox handling of it -- continues to make headlines. Right-hander Hector Neris seems safe and reliable, and lefty Adam Morgan has performed well, but sans the most expensive and injured bullpen pieces (David Robertson, Tommy Hunter), others have underwhelmed, and depth has suffered. Look for the Phillies to be in the market for reinforcements.|
[NOTE: Some of these rankings may have come out a day or two ago, and may not be taking the most recent game(s) into account.]