Analysis

The Phillies weathered the storm in June



Rhys Hoskins and the Phillies remained in contention in June.
(Ian D’Andrea/Wikimedia Commons)

The opponents that the Philadelphia Phillies played in June have a combined winning percentage of .557. June was the month that the Phillies had to weather if they wished to remain in contention. And that they did.

Though the Phillies finished one game under .500 (13-14) in June, they won six of their final 10 games of the month. They managed to finish 13-14 in June after starting the month 1-7.

Staying afloat in June didn’t exactly seem likely after the first series of the month, when the Phillies were embarrassingly swept by the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Not only were the Phillies swept to open the month, but they scored just one run in the series – a home run by Arrieta in the final game of the series. Shortly after Arrieta summarized the month’s first three games as a “horsesh*t series,” he said the Phillies were facing a pivotal moment in their season.

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“This is a key moment in our season,” Arrieta told the collective media, including Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “We had a pretty good April, a pretty good May – June isn’t starting out so well.”

June never got on track for Arrieta, who entered the month as an All-Star candidate and exited it having posted an 0-4 record with a 6.66 ERA.

It did, however, get on track for the Phillies. After starting the month of the disabled list with a broken jaw, Rhys Hoskins and his two-flapped helmet slashed .312/.400/.688 with eight home runs and 22 RBIs. Considering Odubel Herrera started the month six-for-42, it’s actually quite the small victory that he hit .236 in June, propelled by a five-game home run streak in the middle of the month. And while Aaron Nola went 3-0 in June, it was Zach Eflin who stole the show – going 5-0 with a 1.76 ERA in five starts.

The Phillies first game of July came Sunday, when they defeated the Nationals, taking three of four in a series that began on June 28. The Phillies are now three games ahead of the Nationals, who’ve won the National League East in four of the last six seasons. They are three games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East, but currently are a game-and-a-half up on the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants for the second National League Wild Card spot.

After navigating through a treacherous schedule in June, the Phillies schedule softens up significantly in July. As SportsRadio 94 WIP’s Andrew Porter pointed out, the Phillies won’t play another team with a winning record until the Dodgers come to town on July 23. The Boston Red Sox are the only other winning team that the Phillies will play this month. The lowly Baltimore Orioles – who are 35 games under .500 – will come to town for a two-game set starting Tuesday. The combined winning percentage of the Phillies remaining July opponents is .454.

The most noteworthy baseball event in July, of course, is the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. For the first time in seven years, the Phillies seem likely to be buyers in July.

Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported last week that the Phillies, along with the Dodgers, have been the two most aggressive teams in pursuit of Orioles shortstop Manny Machado. It remains unclear how likely the Phillies are to trade for the three-time All-Star, who is expected to test the free-agent market this offseason regardless of where he finishes the season.

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Even if general manager Matt Klentak isn’t able to facilitate a trade for Machado, the Phillies could still upgrade the left side of their infield. According to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Phillies have had fairly substantive conversations with the Kansas City Royals regarding third baseman Mike Moustakas.

And then the bullpen in July figures to improve. Part of that is because there’s seemingly nowhere to go but up. But Pat Neshek made his season debut Sunday. Klentak said in June that getting Neshek back could be as big of a bullpen acquisition as any team makes. Luis Garcia and Edubray Ramos should both return from the disabled list in the near future. And it stands to reason the Phillies will trade for a reliever – perhaps one of the many the San Diego Padres employ – before the non-waiver trade deadline.

So Philadelphia can exhale. For the first time in seven years, the Phillies are likely to make additions in July. Those additions, along with the team’s soft schedule this month, figure to allow the Phillies to be playing meaningful baseball in August and September for the first time in over half a decade.

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