July 09, 2018
Despite a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, the Phillies remain one of the hotter teams in baseball and are tied with the Atlanta Braves for the National League East lead heading into Monday's doubleheader against the Mets. But, with the Braves off, Gabe Kapler's team has a chance to end the day with a full game lead in the division.
Of course, doing that means taking both halves of the doubleheader at Citi Field, where the Phils are already 0-2 this season.
After winning eight of their last 10 games, the Phillies (49-38) find themselves climbing the power rankings as well. Most outlets, including CBSSports.com, have them as the third-best team in the National League behind only the Brewers (54-36) and Cubs (51-36). Here's what CBSSports.com's Matt Snyder had to say about where the Phils fit into an NL East that hasn't looked anything like what it was supposed to this season.
They're surging again.
The upstart Phillies had a rough stretch in early June, but they are rolling right now. They've won eight of their last 10 games and are 17-8 since June 9. They are now tied for first place.
On the downside, the Phillies have only a plus-20 run differential and have only been in first place for four days. Still, you really only have to be in first place one day to make the playoffs, right?
SportsLine projections have the Phillies finishing with 87 wins and a 41.2 percent chance of winning the East. [cbssports.com]
Snyder had the Phillies 8th in his rankings, one spot ahead of the Braves — but he wasn't the only writer to have them in his Top 10. And with an easy schedule remaining before the break, there's no telling how high the Phillies can climb between now and then.
First, however, they'll have to take care of the Mets.
|WHAT THEY'RE SAYING...|
The return of Pat Neshek will provide a nice boost to the bullpen, which has given manager Gabe Kapler plenty of headaches.
Ruben Amaro left them some lovely parting gifts - Zach Eflin and Nick Pivetta, to name two.
They made the most of a light schedule to go 4-1 against the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates, pulling into a tie atop the NL East standings in the process.
Young right-hander Zach Efflin put the Phillies on his back in June, posting a 5-0 record with a 1.76 ERA over 30.2 innings. In games not started by Eflin in June, Philadelphia went 8-14.
The Phillies have found themselves in the mix atop the NL East lately. This is already the latest they've had at least a share of first place since the last day of the 2011 season, when they won the division. That was the team's last playoff appearance of any sort, and it's beginning to look like 2018 might break the Phillies' six-season drought. The last time they made the playoffs in their first full season under a new manager was in 1980 under Dallas Green, when they won the World Series.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports