Philadelphia Phillies Philes Vol 1.15: A welcomed break

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

As the Philadelphia Phillies head into the break, we’ll celebrate Realmuto’s deserving All-Star nod, give Nola some props, and look ahead to the second half.

Leading off

After today’s finale, the All-Star break will officially be upon us, which is perhaps the best news for the sinking Philadelphia Phillies. With last night’s loss, the Phillies are back in third place in what has been a significantly underwhelming first half. Battling through injuries and inconsistency, much-needed rest can only serve the team well.

The fact that only one player will be headed to Cleveland for the All-Star game is a blessing, and also justified. No other player on the team deserves to be playing among the game’s best. Bryce Harper has the second largest contract in baseball history, but he’s struggling to produce as a top-ten player on his own team. I understand he can hit the ball far, but does he have to swing for the fences EVERY time? His narrow-minded approach is hindering this team with each growing strikeout.

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Or perhaps those “overrated” chants are just sinking in.

Something has to give for this Phillies team, and it’s the players. They’re the ones stepping on the field. They’re the professional ball players.

Skeptics can criticize Gabe Kapler all they want, but he’s not the one performing on the field. He’s simply managing the cards he’s been dealt, and it’s time his jokers take responsibility for their poor actions. Kapler is not free of blame, but he’s not the problem.

The fault lies from top to bottom. The team has talent; even more than last year’s squad that went into the All-Star break a half game ahead of the Braves for first place and the third best record in the NL. Something’s got to give, and hopefully the break can only help.

It certainly can’t hurt. The team has too much talent to be battling for third place.

One Shining Star

For the sixth year in a row, the Phillies will have just one representative playing in the All-Star game (pending any last-minute additions). J.T. Realmuto earned the nod, and it’s well deserving. He leads all catchers in baseball with 83 hits and 53 runs, and is near the top in nearly every other offensive category.

More impressive are his defensive stats. He’s thrown out a league-best 26 base runners attempting to steal, just shy of 50% of total attempts.

While the Phillies have been struggling of late, Realmuto has been holding his own.

The Return of an Ace

As the Phillies first half comes to a close, Aaron Nola is rounding into form. With another gem this week against the Braves, Nola will finish the first half with a 7-2 record and 3.89 ERA. After a rough go around in the season’s early stages, he’s rebounded nicely.

And just in time.

Phillies’ starters have struggled of late. Zach Eflin, who had been the Phillies most consistent pitcher all year, closed out his first half with three consecutive clunkers. It’s alarming when you consider his strong June from a season ago when he posted a 5-0 record in five starts and a 1.76 ERA. Battling injuries and inconsistency, Eflin struggled through the second half, tallying only four wins from July through the end of the season with just 12 starts and an ERA of 5.76.

Was this first half a mirage similar to last June, or will he return to form and produce a strong second half? The Phillies need him to be the guy he was through the first two and a half months this year.

And then there’s Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta, and Vince Velasquez – a trio of mediocrity (at best) through 90 games. If the Phillies are to do anything down the stretch, they need to shore up their pitching, whether through trade(s) or their own arms turning it on.

Thankfully Nola seems to be re-emerging as the dominant pitcher he was last year.


As I mentioned at the top, this year marks the sixth consecutive season the Phillies will be represented at baseball’s Midsummer Classic with the required minimum of one player. This ties the franchise record for most consecutive years of having one lonesome player selected since the All-Star game’s inception in 1933. This dubious distinction matches Phillies’ teams from 1968-73.

So here’s the trivia:

The last time the Phillies had more than one player picked was 2013, when they had two. Name both players.

(Answer given at the bottom.)

Most Valuable Phillie Power Rankings – Top 15 (through 7/6/2019):

  1. J.T. Realmuto (C) – Previous Rank: 3 (↑ 2)
  2. Rhys Hoskins (1B) – Previous Rank: 2 (↔)
  3. Scott Kingery (OF/INF) – Previous Rank: 5 (↑ 2)
  4. Aaron Nola (SP) – Previous Rank: 8 (↑ 4)
  5. Zach Eflin (SP) – Previous Rank: 1 (↓ 4)
  6. Hector Neris (RP) – Previous Rank: 4 (↓ 2)
  7. Cesar Hernandez (2B) – Previous Rank: 6 (↓ 1)
  8. Jean Segura (SS) – Previous Rank: 7 (↓ 1)
  9. Jake Arrieta (SP) – Previous Rank: 8 (↔)
  10. Bryce Harper (OF) – Previous Rank: 10 (↔)
  11. Nick Pivetta (SP) – Previous Rank: 11 (↔)
  12. Maikel Franco (3B) – Previous Rank: 12 (↔)
  13. Jay Bruce (OF) – Previous Rank: 13 (↔)
  14. Vince Velasquez (SP) – Previous Rank: N/A (↑)
  15. J.D. Hammer (RP) – Previous Rank: N/A (↑)

“Ring the Bell” Award Winner of the Week

Only fittingly, J.T. Realmuto gets the honors this week. Named to his second consecutive All-Star game, the Phillies catcher is quietly putting together an outstanding year. Never one to seek the limelight, he simply goes about his business and plays hard-nosed, tough baseball. The Phillies are lucky to have him.

Phillie Pholly of the Week

With so many to choose from, I’m going to give it to Zach Eflin and Nick Pivetta, who have pretty much been outright terrible the past month, and certainly this past week. Pitching to an 0-2 record and 8.59 ERA combined, their inconsistency has been a large reason why the Phillies have fallen as far as they have. Hopefully this break allows them to right the ship, because the Phillies are sinking fast and in need of saving.

Phillies Phlashback

In honor of Tuesday’s All-Star game, let’s harken back to July 13th, 1999 and the 70th playing of the Midsummer Classic. Taking place at historic Fenway Park, the Phillies’ Curt Schilling got the starting pitching nod against a loaded American League lineup. And things didn’t go so well for the Phillies ace.

After the NL was set down one, two, three to start the game (all on strikeouts by Pedro Martinez), Schilling gave up a leadoff single to Kenny Lofton. He’d retire the next two batters, Nomar Garciaparra and Ken Griffey, Jr, while Manny Ramirez would work a two-out walk.

Future Phillie Jim Thome would step to the dish and open the scoring with a single to center that scored the speedy Lofton. Cal Ripken, Jr. would follow suit with a single of his own, scoring Ramirez. The inning would end with Schilling getting Rafael Palmeiro to ground out at first.

Schilling would settle down in the second – his final inning of work – setting the AL down in order on just 12 pitches and two strikeouts. The damage was already done though, as the AL squad would go on to beat the NL 4-1. Schilling would take the loss as hometown favorite Pedro Martinez earned MVP honors.

A memorable moment took place before the game as Red Sox legend Ted Williams was honored in front of the Boston crowd. Players from both teams would greet the Hall of Famer in a spontaneous gathering around the mound.

On Deck

After the break, the Phillies host the Nationals for a pivotal weekend set. The Phillies are 4-7 against their divisional foe on the year.

Trivia Answer

Next. What can Gabe Kapler really do?. dark

In 2013, the Philadelphia Phillies had two All-Star representatives: SP Cliff Lee and OF Domonic Brown.