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May 20, 2024

What they're saying: Everything is clicking for the Phillies

The Phillies are 20 games above .500 and counting, they're winning in all kinds of ways, and getting help from everyone on the roster.

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Kody-Clemens-Phillies-Nats-Double-5.19.24-MLB.jpg Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Silver Slugger Kody Clemens.

The Phillies arrived to the Monday off day with the best record in baseball at 34-14. 

They swept the lowly Nationals over the weekend at Citizens Bank Park, are on a 14-3 tear for the month of May, and going back to the series against the Rockies that started on April 15, they're 26-6. 

Their starting pitching has been aces, the bats are consistently doing damage from everywhere in the order, Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott are becoming homegrown All-Stars, and even Kody Clemens has stepped up as one of Philly's new unsung heroes.

So much is working for the Phillies right now, which brings a whole lot to talk about both within the Delaware Valley and across the sport's national outlook.

Here's just some of what they're saying as the Phillies continue to roll... 

20 and counting

Alex Coffey | The Philadelphia Inquirer

An MLB-best 20 games over .500 to this point in the season is a long, long way from where the Phillies were two years ago – and they ended up going to the World Series that year. 

But remember where they really were before the stars aligned: A stacked but underachieving team that looked completely stuck in the mud under the soon-to-be-fired Joe Girardi

But then Rob Thomson was promoted to interim manager, and as Alex Coffey recalled, he put small goals in place to the club on track. First it was get to .500, then five over .500, and then 10 until the goals got greater and greater.

They were reasonable, and doable for this club over the past couple of years, even with repeated slow starts. 

And now that they're here, 20 games over and with the best record in baseball, I mean, hey, what's 25?

Wrote Coffey:

“Now, our goal is to get to 25 over,” Thomson said. “And I’m serious about that.”

Players, coaches, and staff will concede that this year is different, but no one will say they are satisfied. It’s a long season, and they know better than to get complacent. But what is undeniable is that they have created some breathing room for themselves for the rest of the season. If the Phillies go .500 from here on out, they’ll finish the season with more wins (91) than they had last year (90). They are on pace for 115.

Will they finish with 115 wins? Unlikely. But what they’re doing now will make any adversity less consequential down the road. [The Inquirer]

And hopefully the summer months a lot less stressful. 

Clemens' fit

Matt Gelb | The Athletic

To get to the point where the Phillies are at right now though, a team needs a whole lot to click, and yeah, the Phillies have been getting a ton of help from everywhere. 

Just look at Kody Clemens, who got called up with Trea Turner injured and has been on a tear that has established him as one of the season's early unsung heroes. 

Sure, 11 games and 28 at-bats is a small sample size, but at the same time, that sample size has produced a .321 batting average with a head-turning 1.166 OPS and three home runs. 

Turner is going to come back, and a roster decision is going to have to be made once he does, but Clemens has been making it hard to dismiss him as the easy choice to send right back to the minors. 

So what's next for him?

Matt Gelb's take:

Maybe, once Turner returns, the Phillies send Clemens back to Triple A and have him focus on outfield work. Remember: They opted against carrying a lefty bench bat (other than Garrett Stubbs) in spring training because Thomson decided he would be fine with Whit Merrifield against a righty pitcher. The Phillies will pinch hit for only one righty in the lineup — Johan Rojas — so Clemens needs to be able to play left field in that scenario.

Cristian Pache saw more playing time in the past two weeks as Merrifield faded. The Phillies want a righty platoon partner for Brandon Marsh; Clemens does not fit that. They won’t sever ties with Merrifield. Pache has always felt extraneous with Rojas, but the Phillies will want to preserve depth.

It’s a decent problem to have. [The Athletic]

The beast of the league?


So the Phillies have been great, and have plenty of evidence to support that they are, but are the truly viewed as baseball's best?

ESPN's panel of baseball writers and analysts weighed in on a number of topics throughout the NL, with one of them being the club within the league who has impressed the most. 

The Phillies are definitely in the conversation, but with a catch that a lot of fans are surely growing tired of. 

Wrote Buster Olney in particular:

The Phillies have played a relatively easy schedule, but they have dominated -- with their starting rotation, bullpen and deep lineup. The Braves' offense has obviously been a problem, and the Dodgers will need more from the bottom half of their batting order. But Philadelphia is the best all-around team so far. It will be interesting to see how the Phillies fare as their schedule toughens and they begin playing postseason contenders with star-studded rotations. As one of the Braves said to me Saturday: "It feels like we are seeing a lot of aces so far." [ESPN]

Look, you can only play the team in front of you, and the Phillies are beating those teams – as they're expected to. 

As for that Braves quote, again, you can only play the team in front of you. Hit the baseball. 

It's a skill

Corey Seidman | NBC Sports Philadelphia

Building off that, the Phillies are winning all of these games, even in situations where they probably should've lost them. 

Take Saturday night, when Cristopher Sánchez ran into trouble, but held the line long enough to escape and leave the bats with a chance to go and win it – which they did. 

Wrote Corey Sediman from that 4-3 win in extras:

A huge, sometimes overlooked factor in the Phillies' ability to snatch victory from defeat this season has been the frequent minimization of damage. Nick Senzel's leadoff double off Cristopher Sanchez in the top of the fourth was the Nationals' sixth hit of the game, 13 batters in. But Sanchez generated two early double plays, stranded a runner in scoring position with nobody out in the fourth and retired the final seven hitters he faced, four via strikeout.

A better opponent than the Nationals might have broken the game open, but in reality, there are far more teams in Washington's tier than any above it. There are five National League clubs over .500. Five. The Phillies will spend many more nights this season playing inferior teams than they will facing teams as deep or talented as they are. [NBCSP]

The Phillies are finding a way, even when they're not at their sharpest. 

It's a skill, and a vital one for any club with an eye on October.

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