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June 06, 2024

5 Phillies thoughts: Cristopher Sánchez's breakout, Alec Bohm's slump and more

Taking the temperature of a dominant Phillies team as it heads to London for a two-game series against the Mets.

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Cris Sanchez 6.4.24 Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Phillies left-handed starting pitcher Cristopher Sánchez has had a true breakout season in 2024 after earning manager Rob Thomson's trust midway through 2023.

After a series sweep against the returning Rhys Hoskins and his first-place Milwaukee Brewers, the Phillies sit at 44-19 as they head to London for a two-game set against the New York Mets. Here are five thoughts on the state of the Phillies, who continue to look like a well-oiled machine:

Cristopher Sánchez continuing to blossom

Sánchez did not receive run support in his start against the Brewers on Tuesday night, but he was on point, building on the momentum he generated during a tremendous month of May in which he posted a 2.03 ERA in five starts across 31.0 innings.

Sánchez threw six innings of one-run ball against Milwaukee, allowing just four hits, walking one and striking out three. He threw only 83 pitches -- Sánchez likely could have given Phillies manager Rob Thomson one more inning if necessary, but with three right-handed hitters up for Milwaukee to begin the seventh, the Phillies' skipper opted to call it a night for the southpaw Sánchez and hand the ball to right-handed reliever José Ruiz.

Sánchez was running out of chances to impress before sticking in the Phillies' starting rotation midway through 2023, and he has made another significant leap this year. Sánchez has embraced what has become his money pitch, a nasty changeup that is effective against hitters in either batter's box.

Sánchez now owns a 2.71 ERA and 2.50 FIP. His ascension into one of the sport's best young left-handed starters has been a massive player development success for the Phillies. 

Speeding By

In recent years, the Phillies have adopted an identity built around slugging the baseball and pitching with power and velocity. But it is also a roster filled with great athletes who move well. In fact, on Baseball Savant's sprint speed leaderboard, the Phillies had three players among the 15 with the highest sprint speed (of all players with at least 10 opportunities) entering Wednesday's series-finale against Milwaukee. What is just as impressive is that nearly every position player on their team is at least an average runner. 

PlayerSprint Speed (ft / sec)MLB rank (out of 448 players)
Johan Rojas29.86th
Trea Turner29.712th
Edmundo Sosa29.615th
Whit Merrifield29.132nd
Bryson Stott28.849th
J.T. Realmtuo
Cristian Pache
Brandon Marsh28.1116th
Kody Clemens28.0125th
Nick Castellanos27.6184th
Garrett Stubbs27.4202nd
Bryce Harper26.9266th
Alec Bohm26.1354th
Kyle Schwarber25.0415th

The Phillies have more stolen bases this season than all but three major-league teams. Their combination of on-base skills and the aforementioned speed adds yet another dangerous dimension to their outstanding offensive attack.

Seranthony Domínguez getting back on track

The months of March and April were extremely unkind to Domínguez, who had more earned runs than innings pitched over a dozen outings -- sporting a 9.58 ERA by the time April had ended. 

After a stellar month in May and a strong beginning to June, Domínguez -- who has a 2025 team option worth $8 million for the team to decide on following this season -- is beginning to look more and more like the guy who was a staple at the back-end of the team's bullpen for quite a few years.

Domínguez's month-to-month improvement was massive:

10.1 IP8.2 IP
9.58 ERA1.04 ERA
1.74 WHIP1.03 WHIP
3 HR0 HR
.954 OPS.406 OPS

It might be too ambitious to expect Domínguez to get back to his absolute peak form -- something resembling his lights-out run during the 2022 postseason -- but the good news is that the Phillies do not need that from him. José Alvarado, Jeff Hoffman and Matt Strahm have likely been baseball's best bullpen trio in 2024, making Thomson's life much easier when high-leverage innings and situations arise.

Over the course of a 162-game regular season, every relief pitcher is thrown into important spots at times. Domínguez tossed a scoreless 10th inning in Tuesday night's win against the Brewers and received the win for his troubles. But thanks to Alvarado, Hoffman, Strahm and the continued emergence of rookie Orion Kerkering, the Phillies just need Domínguez to be a viable middle reliever right now. He has been exactly that for several weeks now.

Alec Bohm looks to work way out of slump

After lighting the baseball world on fire in March and April, the Phillies' third baseman slowed down in May, particularly going cold during the latter portion of the month.

March/April (31 G)May 1 - May 16 (13 G)May 17 - May 31 (13 G, 12 GS)
.366 AVG.264 AVG.220 AVG
.438 OBP.316 OBP.241 OBP
.598 SLG.359 SLG.380 SLG
4 HR0 HR1 HR

In what the Phillies hope is a sign of things to come, Bohm slugged a clutch eighth-inning solo home run to left-center field on Tuesday night, putting the Phillies on the board and sending the game to extra innings, where they went on to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite a disappointing month, Bohm's first career All-Star nod remains very much in play.

The difficult road ahead

Considering the sheer amount of travel and time zone differences at play, challenging times are nearing for the Phillies. They will be flying about 3,500 miles from Philadelphia to London, of course, and will have to play a pair of games there before receiving one day off and flying from London to Boston for a three-game set against the Red Sox. 

After their day off following the two London games, the Phillies play nine straight days, with the first six games of the stretch coming on the road. Following their three games in Boston, they head to Baltimore for a three-game series against a young but extremely talented Orioles team that is in the race for a second consecutive American League East crown. 

Finally, the Phillies then return home for a three-game series against the San Diego Padres, who have struggled of late due to pitching injuries but had a surprisingly strong start to the season after dealing Juan Soto to the New York Yankees over the summer.

Before Tuesday's game, Thomson was asked what he hopes to see during the difficult upcoming stretch.

"Health," Thomson said. "And that's really it, because this is tough."

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