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June 15, 2022

Red hot Rhys Hoskins, surging Garrett Stubbs latest heroes for Phillies

Just when the city was ready to decry the Phillies squad as "the same old Phillies," they do exactly what the fan base doesn't expect them to do. They snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It was as if the Phillies' momentum from that 10-game winning streak was sputtering out as the team was about to drop two of three to the Marlins. 

But have no fear, backup catcher Garrett Stubbs is here:

A few points on the Phils as of late...

Hot Stubbs Homer Machine 🛁

"Stubbs rips one into the afternoon..." may not have the greatest ring to it, but another unlikely Phillies win has the team at 32-31 and four games out of the second Wild Card spot as of this writing. Is this sustainable? I have no clue, but ride the wave and enjoy the vibes while you can, Philly baseball fans.

Is there anything more Philadelphian than a lowly player coming out of nowhere to capture the fan base's imagination? Enter Stubbs, a 29-year-old catcher who entered 2022 with a career .182 batting average. Mike Piazza 2.0, he is not, but in 43 plate appearances this season, Stubbs is hitting .342 with a 1.116 OPS. If the Phillies find themselves playing meaningful October baseball for the first time in 11 years, I wouldn't be shocked if a wild Stubbs pinch-hit at-bat sets Philly ablaze. 

Hopefully, he smashes his bat to the ground again if he does... 

Red Hot Rhys 🔥

Rhys Hoskins had been ice cold to kick off 2022, hitting .202 with an on-base percentage of .303 and a slugging percentage of .405 in the first two months of the season. Just as that humid heat crushes the Delaware Valley, however, Hoskins is on fire at the plate. He had his first walk-off hit on Monday and had a four-hit, six-RBI effort on Tuesday:

Going into Wednesday's game, Hoskins was hitting .354 with a Ruthian OPS of 1.196 in June. He went 2-for-4 on Wednesday too. Whatever you're doing differently, Rhys, whether it's the vibe you're getting from new manager Rob Thomson or something else entirely, Phillies fans want more of that. 

Please Stop the Bleeding 🩹

Joe Girardi's dismissal, while warranted, did little to change the complexion of the Phillies' pitiful bullpen. Jeurys Familia surrendering three runs in a third of an inning on Tuesday night when the Phils' offense mashed nine runs against the Fish? Less than ideal for the Fightins. While none of his runs were earned, Corey Knebel was on the mound when the team blew a one-run lead in the ninth and gave up three runs to the Marlins on Tuesday as well. He has lost his spot as the team's closer:

Brad Lidge, where art thou?

'B.C.I.B.' No More ❌

The "Best Catcher in Baseball" labeling that hyped up the J.T. Realmuto acquisition in the 2019 offseason and his $115 million contract in 2021 needs to be completely eradicated. His .678 OPS is the worst since his "cup of coffee" 11-game call-up season with the Marlins in 2014. The idea that he's good enough defensively to compensate for his weak bat has evaporated this season too, with gaffs like this that cost the Phils runs:

He drew a pinch-hit walk in the ninth on Wednesday, but with the way Stubbs is raking and his walk-off blast against Miami, I think I know who Phillies fans are going to be calling to be the team's catcher, regardless of whether it'll actually happen...

Totally Kyle 🎸

Kyle Gibson tossed eight innings of one-run ball on Wednesday afternoon.  The Phillies' rotation is rapidly improving with Aaron Nola on the upswing and Zack Wheeler in Cy Young form. Add a bullpen arm or two, drink a cold one, squint a little and you might see something resembling a playoff contender. 

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