Phillies – Nationals Series Recap: Not a Sweep, but is this Progress?
A lifeless outing on Thursday will make some people forget all the good the Phillies did in this series, at least in the first two outings. The bullpen didn’t allow a run across the entire series, and over the first pair of showdowns, the Phillies bats scored early and late in the game, something that’s rare to see. Especially something they’ve lacked all season...
It wasn’t there today, but especially in the 10th inning Wednesday night the Phillies actually got on base and drove in runs in extra innings. It sounds basic, but it feels like time and time again, Philadelphia hasn't been able to translate base hits into runs crossing the plate, and especially so late in games. Rhys Hoskins, Nick Maton, and Andrew Knapp all drove in runs over the top of the 10th, and Hector the Protector of leads closed Washington out. But the only reason they got to extras was because of someone whose place on the team is controversial, and that’s putting it nicely.
It’s almost impossible to separate what Odubel did off the field from what he’s doing on it, but playing CF he’s been mostly good across the past 8 games. He’s had 32 plate appearances and got 10 hits, and drove in 5 runs. Herrera is sporting a 1.080 OPS in that timeframe too. While he and Bryce Harper did have a costly mistake where they both seemed to ignore each other on a flyball, Odubel also crushed a home run in the 9th inning of that same game to extend it a little longer and allow the bats to wake up.
For now, he’s Joe Girardi’s best option in center, and he’ll likely continue to get time there.
The Lineup needs a shakeup
While I’ve pointed to the Phil’s success over the first two games against the Nats, the third one can’t be ignored. The lineup let an old man with an ERA over 7 have his way with them. Both Rhys Hoskins and Alec Bohm, the two corner infielders are on some serious cold streaks. Over his last 15 appearances, Hoskins has gotten 60 plate appearances and racked up 13 total bases. Bohm looked like he was picking it up for a brief period, but has hit a wall again, posting an OPS of .482 in his last 10 games. Whether it’s putting bats like Brad Miller and Andrew Knapp in their places more often, or shifting them down in the lineup, a change should be made soon as their lack of production over this stretch has been costly.
Injured Phillies and their replacements
Today, the Phillies placed C JT Realmuto on the COVID-related IL, but he has tested negative up to this point. Didi Gregorius has also missed time due to an elbow injury. In their places have stepped Andrew Knapp and Nick Maton, who have performed about as well as you could expect. They both drove in runs during that 3-run 10th inning, and Maton also flashed some of his glove during today's game, as he continues to impress with his opportunities so far.
The Phillies begin a three-game battle with the Blue Jays on Friday as they try to win a second straight road series.