The Phillies lacked momentum entering this week’s four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. They were 13-15, and had not won consecutive game since the first week of the season.
This changed in this series, as the Phillies won all four games against a good Milwaukee team that was 17-11 entering the week. Here are three numbers to remember from this crucial sweep by the Phillies:
1.77 — Starting Pitcher’s ERA
The lone start in this series that was iffy came from Chase Anderson, who allowed three earned runs in 4 1/3 innings pitched. The other three starters — Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Vince Velasquez — combined to allow just two earned runs in 21 innings of work.
If the Phillies are going to be a playoff team in 2021, they will need this production to continue from their starters. The trio of Nola, Wheeler and Zach Eflin — who did not pitch in this series — have been excellent thus far this season, and are a big reason they have stayed in the picture despite underperformances throughout the rest of the roster.
Wheeler did it all by himself in Thursday’s game, pitching a complete game shutout in a 2-0 win. He leads the majors in innings pitched on the season, and has had multiple dominant outings so far.
Phillies brass spoke highly of their trio entering the season, and so far, they have played the part. But, the back of the rotation has struggled greatly. This is why the start from Velasquez on Monday — in which he allowed just one earned run in six innings of work — might have been the biggest one in the series.
Five — Hitters with a home run
For much of the season, it has felt like the Phillies were being carried by the two biggest bats in the lineup, Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper. Well, this series, they got much needed production from elsewhere in the lineup while Harper was sidelined with a wrist injury.
Andrew McCutchen, Alec Bohm, Didi Gregorius, Brad Miller and J.T. Realmuto all homered in the series — and each home run was crucial, as every game was tight.
The Phillies struggled as a team in 2020, but had one of the better offenses in baseball. A big reason for this was the depth of the lineup, which saw Bohm and Gregorius specifically as two excellent complimentary pieces.
This has not continued in 2021, as Bohm, Gregorius and McCutchen have all struggled to varying degrees with an OPS of .601, .685 and .680 respectively. In order for the team to continue this recent hot stretch, these players need to keep playing better.
Plus-5 – Phillies run differential in series
The Phillies might have swept the series, but they were far from dominant. The first three games were all separated by just one run apiece. The fourth one would have been, too, had it not been for an eighth-inning RBI double by Hoskins.
This isn’t to say that the Phillies did not deserve the sweep. They got excellent contributions from throughout the roster in this series — even when Anderson struggled, the bullpen led the team to a tight victory.
But one-run wins are never convincing, and teams cannot expect to win all of the close games that they play. The Phillies currently sit atop the NL East, but their minus-12 run differential is second-worst in the division. They need to outplay their opponents to a higher degree to continue to win at a high rate.
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