April 06, 2023
The Phillies will still be called the defending National League Champions for six more months — but it doesn't feel that way.
After a week of games that has seen basically everything possible go wrong — their ace collapsing, blown leads, base running mistakes, fielding blunders, mounting injuries and more — the Phils are finally set to return home Friday (and yes, even their home opener was messed up by weather and postponed) to raise the 2022 banner and host the Reds.
The 1-5 Phillies are not as bad as their record, right? This team has overcome worse and boasted several incredible achievements last season that should have them battle-tested to fight their way back to .500 quickly.
If you are wavering, we dove into the stat sheet and found 10 interesting and encouraging reasons to remain optimistic about the 2023 Philadelphia Phillies.
This is a huge boost for a lineup that already is missing Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper. Without Hoskins in the middle of the batting order to take pitches and work walks, many were worried the team would be missing that kind of frustrating hitter. Stott has picked up the slack. According to Baseball Reference, Stott has seen 3.96 pitches per at bat and has seen more strikes thrown his way than all but three hitters in all of baseball. He's made good on them, making pitchers pay for mistakes.
Losing Hoskins during the last week of spring training was awful luck. Darick Hall and Brandon Marsh already got dinged up in New York and Ranger Suárez is working to come back to complete the rotation. Those three will be healthy soon, and Harper has already started hitting. He could return soon and the Phillies will be a more lethal team when he does.
The Phils lead the league in triples so far with four, and if you add their 14 doubles they have 18 extra-base hits in total, tied for the most of any team. It's clear from the eye test that the Phillies hitters are making good contact and extra-base hits should lead to runs.
Which leads us to this stat, which seems to be negative at first glance. However, the Phillies are not going to have this kind of bad luck all season. Last year, Philadelphia hit .270 with RISP, the second-best in the majors. Their hitting with runners on second and third will improve and help them win more games.
They are hitting .268 through six games. Last year they hit .253 over 162 games. Obviously, this is a good early trend.
The Phillies have a lefty-heavy batting order at times and this is an encouraging stat. It's led, of course, by Stott's early impressive hitting, but Marsh is another lefty hitter who has had a good start. If the Phillies can hit against lefties it'll give manager Rob Thomson some more maneuverability against southpaw starters this year.
For whatever reason, the Phillies are awful early in games but the second time they see a pitcher, they are hitting .354. This is, of course, after an extremely small sampling with just six opposing starters faced — but once again, it's encouraging to see the hitters on the team making adjustments and adapting to what they are seeing.
It comes as no shock that the Phillies' pitching has been the worst in MLB across the board so far through one week. But there are a few tiny little snippets of hope. They walk a lot of hitters, but they also have the second-best strikeout rate in the league. It's something to build on, right? They have a lot of flamethrowers on the staff so strikeouts could be king this year in the bullpen.
Nine relievers have appeared in more than one game this year. One of them has already been sent down (Yunior Marte). Three of them have ugly double-digit ERAs (remember, the sample size is between two and four games). But four of them have gone multiple innings without allowing a run, the pitchers mentioned above. It's nice to have some arms to rely on at this stage, and the pitchers who have struggled — Seranthony Domínguez, Craig Kimbrel and Gregory Soto — have a track record of success that should be found again.
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