July 10, 2023
The vibes were flawless, but then went south. The Phillies had a mixed stretch down in Florida over the last week. Things went swimmingly against the first-place Rays, as the Fightins went full 2008 mode and swept Tampa Bay. That energy carried over momentarily as the Phillies headed to South Beach to take on the Wild Card-contending Marlins, but some Friday night heroics gave way to losses on Saturday and Sunday.
Entering the All-Star Break, the Phillies are 48-41 and a half-game out of the final Wild Card spot in the National League. Looking back at the week that was, here are the players whose stock is rising and those who are on the downswing currently...
Bryson Stott: During the Phils' Florida trip, Stott hit .409 with a .935 OPS, including a four-hit effort in the Fightins' Wednesday win over the Rays. He leads the Phillies in bWAR with 2.4 on the season. I am done with the platooning that manager Rob Thomson is deploying. The second-year infielder needs to be in the lineup every single game.
Cristian Pache: The 24-year-old outfielder has increasingly gotten more playing time recently. In seven plate appearances over the last week, Pache had three hits, none bigger than his two-run, game-winning jack over the Fish on Friday night. If Bryce Harper showcases the ability to play first base, the Phils could move Kyle Schwarber to DH and Brandon Marsh to left field with the possibility of Pache holding down the outfield spot. Such a turn of events could help the Phillies fortify their rotation and utility infield spot ahead of the deadline rather than an outfield upgrade.
Craig Kimbrel: Across this stretch, Kimbrel pitched three scoreless innings in three different appearances. He was also added to the National League All-Star team over the weekend, his ninth career selection.
Aaron Nola: Oh, Aaron. Your wild inconsistency continues to madden the Delaware Valley. In Sunday's loss to Miami, Nola allowed three home runs in the first three innings, ultimately surrendering four runs across six innings in a 7-3 loss. Nola's ERA now sits at 4.39. Over the last three seasons, he has a 4.01 ERA. This is the guy whose camp wanted a contract extension worth $200 million back in the spring?
Ranger Suárez: Ranger, what gives? Suárez started in Saturday's loss, lasting fewer than six innings and giving up three earned runs while walking four batters. The Gold Glove-caliber pitcher was also uncharacteristically shaky on the defensive side of things. In Suárez's last two starts, he's allowed eight earned runs in 11 innings of work. If postseason baseball returns to Philly this fall, how confident can this team be in their rotation? Between Nola going full Nola, Zack Wheeler being up and down and Suárez's slide as of late, the staff is far from where the organization needs it to be.
Josh Harrison: As I alluded to above, there's no reason for Harrison to be inserted into the lineup over Stott. Harrison, a right-handed hitter, has a pitiful .436 OPS against lefties this season while Stott is cranking lefties with an .802 OPS. Harrison went hitless in all five of his plate appearances this past week. The Phillies' front office needs to monitor the utility infielder market.
Kyle Schwarber: SchwarberFest feels like forever ago. Schwarber has always been streaky, but when he's not going yard, he's rough to watch at the plate. Against these Florida squads, Schwarber hit just .143 with zero homers while continuing to be perhaps the league's worst defensive outfielder. Schwarber currently leads Major League Baseball with 117 strikeouts. His OPS of .736 is well below his career average of .824. His .184 batting average is the lowest among all qualified hitters in the entire sport. Yikes.
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