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May 19, 2024

5 thoughts from another sweep (over the Nationals) in South Philly

The Phillies rolled over the Nationals at home this weekend.

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Phillies-Nationals-Bryce-Harper_051924_USAT Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports

Bryce Harper is heating up.

The Phillies did it again — a sweep of divisional foes the Nationals — to improve to a wildly impressive 34-14 start (and a ridiculous 115 win pace). They lead the Braves by 4.5 games (Atlanta plays later Sunday night), their largest lead in the division in over a decade. A well-earned rest awaits on Monday, so while we bask in the glow of the best baseball team in the world right now residing in Philly, here are a handful of interesting thoughts and stats that jumped out from their dominating trio of triumphs.

1. Expecting to win

After leading wire to wire to win their series opener — an expected outcome on Zack Wheeler day — the Phillies pulled off some 2008-like magic in Game 2. Trailing for most of the game, Bryson Stott hit a game-tying homer in the seventh before the Phils fell behind by one run again. Then Kody Clemens hit a game-tying homer in the ninth to force extras. He's been electric off the bench since a call up a few weeks ago.

The loaded Phillies lineup took advantage of some over-managing from the Washington side, using an intentional walk and two deep fly outs to plate speedster Johan Rojas on a walk-off sac fly off the bat of Bryce Harper.

Again on Sunday the Phillies overcame a pair of deficits, using a four-run fifth to give Aaron Nola the cushion he needed to earn victory number seven, with an ERA approaching sub 3-levels.

2. The bullpen haves and have nots

The Phillies bullpen has four reliable, light's out arms. The rest — not so much. 

The contrast is drastic and fans can be pretty clear on what to expect based on who trots out of centerfield to take the baseball each night.

The haves:

Jeff Hoffman0.90 ERA in 20 IP
 Matt Strahm0.95 ERA in 19 IP
Orion Kerkering1.98 ERA in 13.2 IP
Jose Alvarado3.72 ERA in 19.1 IP 
The have nots:

Seranthony Dominguez6.75 ERA in 16 IP
Gregory Soto 
5.79 ERA in 14 IP
Spencer Turnbull6.42 ERA in 7 IP

All in all it's a pretty good pen — few in the majors ever have no weak links. Turnbull hasn't been as dominant since moving to the bullpen, and a revolving door of Yunior Marte, Luis Ortiz and now Jose Ruiz hasn't been reliable or healthy either. Perhaps adding a tried and true reliever to this unit will be the team's priority come the trade deadline.

3. A true test?

The Phillies have played the easiest schedule — by opponent win percentage — of all 30 teams so far this season. They have the 13th toughest remaining and will finally have a test on the schedule next week. After spending most of the season beating up on bad teams, the defending World Series champions will be in town Tuesday. And while the Rangers haven't been as light's out as Philly has — they're just 24-23 — they have potentially the best non-Braves roster the Phillies will have faced.

Another gift awaits from the schedule gods, however, as the Rangers have lost seven of their last 10 heading into their trio of tilts against Philadelphia having blown their AL West lead. Sometimes the timing is just good. 

4. A hot ticket

As the weather — sort of — gets warm in the Delaware Valley the Phillies have become a really hot ticket. If you had a spontaneous desire to go to Sunday afternoon's game perhaps, with the weather a gorgeous 77 degrees, a sell out on the Phillies website would have forced you to buy nosebleeds in the 400 level for over $60 on The Phillies have the third best attendance per game in baseball and if they continue to play like this it'll only get more pricy.

In 2012 a "sell out streak" of 257 games ended that encompassed much of the Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins days. Is it possible this era will create another similar streak?

5. Hittin' season

Another table, submitted for your approval. A few Phillies hitter have been extremely hot right now:

Bryson Stott.383, .533 OBP, 15 RBI
Bryce Harper.344, 4 HR, 17 RBI
J.T. Realmuto.333
Edmundo Sosa.290

Oh and Alec Bohm is still hitting .330 for the entire season and added a three run homer Sunday, giving him an MLB-best 42 RBI.

Follow Evan on Twitter:@evan_macy

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