Joe Girardi came here with a pedigree of winning. After the experimentation of Gabe Kapler, getting a proven winner in a Phillies uniform. That man was Joe Girardi. And the excitement of Girardi was warranted. A former major league catcher who got his first shot in 2006 and took a young Marlins team and managed them to 78 wins. Overachieving. He then headed to the Bronx where he beat the Phillies in 2009 for a World Series trophy. So when a guy like that becomes available it makes sense to grab him.
But Joe Girardi has struggled this season. He has constantly made head scratching moves and yet the Phillies are right in the hunt for the division despite Girardi’s managerial decisions. But why are they in the hunt? Is it because of the vaunted Phillies offense? No. The offense actually has struggled big time. Even though on paper the offense should be a 4 run a game offense minimum. But the bats have yet to come alive.
I think when it comes to the Phillies success this season there is one name that is responsible for a lot of the success; Caleb Cotham. Headlined by Aaron Nola, Zach Wheeler, and Zach Efflin, the Phillies starting pitchers currently have a 3.89 ERA. If you take out Matt Moore’s starts and its even better. Nola is giving you what you’d expect, but Wheeler currently sports a 2.85 ERA and has pitched the most innings in the league. A pitcher who was known for struggling in the first half of the season is now flourishing under Cotham’s tutelage.
Efflin’s emergence is the biggest. While Efflin has improved in each of the past 4 seasons, he has taken a giant step so far this year going from a 3.97 ERA to a 3.38. He looks like the guy the Padres took in the 2012 draft. But maybe my biggest example of Cotham’s influence is none of the big 3. Its actually a guy who many people wanted to ship out of town (myself included.) Vincent Velasquez.
Velasquez was thrown into the role because Matt Moore proved to be best suited for Japan. And while its only been 4 games, Velasquez has a 3.20 ERA as a starter. And most importantly, for the first time in his career he finally looks like a pitcher, and not a thrower.
The bullpen could only go up. They had a 7.06 ERA last season, so the 4.59 ERA the bullpen is sporting is a drastic improvement. But then again, it could only go up. But keep in mind, theyre doing all of this without their biggest bullpen acquisition in the offseason, Archie Bradley.
So next time you watch a game and the team is struggling to tack on runs, but they end up pulling out a close win just remember to give a little credit to the pitching coach Caleb Cotham.