Today marks the first day of summer, which used to be considered hitting season for the Philadelphia Phillies. Not so much anymore.
The Phillies are on quite the slide after once holding the top spot in the way-too-early National League Wild Card spot. Remember when the Phillies were actually breathing down the neck of the first-place Washington Nationals? That was fun. After dropping four straight to the Arizona Diamondbacks to see a losing streak extend to seven games and going just 1-9 in the last 10 games, the Phillies are now 13.5 games out of first place, closer to last place than first and 8.0 games out of a wild card spot. The Phillies still have a 200/1 chance to win the World Series, but it’s probably best you save your money, dignity and sanity by refraining from placing any money on a long shot bet.
Perhaps now is a good opportunity to hit the refresh button on the season and start to regroup with how we evaluate this team. Put aside the wild dreams of a surprise playoff run and instead remember what this season was supposed to be about from the start; the future.
For the remainder of the season, I’ll be watching to see how some of the younger players we have been so excited about bounce back. Players like Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez have had a tough time lately (Velasquez is on the 15-day DL, Nola has lost two straight without being able to get out of the fourth inning and Franco has gone five games without a single hit with six strikeouts and zero walks. I still believe these three will be instrumental in the future of the club and the growing pains can be good in the long run.
We will soon be able to catch a glimpse of other future players as well. Shortstop of the future J.P Crawford got off to a slow start since being moved up to Lehigh Valley but still looks to be on track for a possible September call-up. The Phillies also just had the number one pick in the MLB Draft add outfielder Mickey Moniak to the farm system. He will be a few years away, but the future does look to be optimistic.
As expected by many, the Phillies are looking more like the team they were expected to be this season. The winning was fun while it lasted, and perhaps it will pop up again before the season is over. Whatever happens in the win column, the more important part of the season will be focusing on how these young players rebound and respond from their struggles. Offering some promise between now and September is possible, even if it comes in a losing effort. This season was about individual growth, which will lead to team growth.
Now it is back to basics.