By Dylan MacKinnon
Coming into August, the Phillies were 4.5 games back. Eight straight wins later, plus one Mets sweep, they find themselves up 2.5 games, with a firm grasp on the NL East. It was one of the greatest weeks in Philly sports in a long time. It was something we all needed after a disappointing Flyers season, and a terrible end to the Sixers season. But the first time in months, we all had a reason to smile about Philly Sports.
But how did it all go down? How did the Phillies pull off a 7 game swing in such a short time period? Here are the 5 numbers that tell the story of the Phillies amazing August run so far.
Wheeler closed out this stretch with a 2 hit shutout yesterday. In it, he had a stretch of 22 batters retired in a row. This was the first time a Phillies pitcher accomplished that since Roy Halladay’s Perfect game. It just so happened to come on the day of Halladay’s number being retired.
Some more numbers from Wheeler’s amazing start. He struck 11 Mets out. 80 of his 108 pitches were strikes. That is a 74% strike to ball ratio. He threw 55 Fastballs, and got Mets to swing and miss at 21 of them (38.2%).
Here is a reminder of what former Mets GM Brody Van Wagenen said about Wheeler.
“Our health and performance department, our coaches all contributed and helped him parlay two good half-seasons over the last five years into a $118 million.”
Wheeler is currently the odds on favorite to win the NL CY Young. Walker Buehler is the next closest.
Zack Wheeler leads the majors with 156 innings and 181 strikeouts— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) August 8, 2021
The Phillies hit 8 homeruns vs the Mets. The Mets only scored 5 runs. They have 16 home runs overall in August so far. Their team slash line in August is .289/.347/.544. They have scored 55 runs in August, 6.8 a game. 81 hits. 22 Doubles, 2 Triples. The Phillies bats hake woken up.
Harper is slugging at a rate of .933 in August. For those who don’t know what slugging percentage is, it’s a calculation of total bases per at bats. The highest slugging percentage in the league right now is Shohei Ohtani (.653). .933 is an insane number over any stretch.
In August so far he has 4 homeruns, and 5 doubles. He is mashing the ball right now. He is the only NL hitter with a slash line of .300/.400/.500. His homerun in game 3 vs the Mets was his 20th of the year. This stretch has rocketed him into having the 2nd best odds for NL MVP at +450 or +400 across most Sportsbooks. Only Fernando Tatis Jr. has better odds than him.
If both Harper and Wheeler win their respective rewards, it would be the first time the Phillies have had both the MVP and CY Young since 1980, where Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton did so. In case you don’t remember, Phillies also won the World Series that year. It would be the 20th time in MLB History a team has had someone win both awards.
Phillies have won 8 games in a row. It’s their longest winning streak in 10 years. The last time they won 8 straight games was in 2011. Who was the starter of the 8th win in 2011? Roy Halladay. Just so happens they accomplished this on the day they retired Halladay’s number.
Coming into the season, the two most important bullpen pieces were Archie Bradley and Hector Neris. Their seasons did not start well. Hector Neris had an ERA over 5 as the closer, and Archie Bradley missed a chunk of time, and had 4.5 ERA coming into July. But in August, they have been flawless. The two have combined for an ERA of 0.00 over 9.2 innings.
And their success is not just in August. Bradley has given up 1 earned run over his last 15 innings pitched (.6 ERA). He has his ERA all the way down 2.73. And Neris has looked great ever since he lost the closer gig. He started July giving up 6 earned runs in .2 innings. But since then, in a setup role, he has given up only 3 earned runs in 16.2 innings (1.67 ERA).
Even with Ian Kennedy as the closer now, they are both very important. They will be the setup men, pitching the 7th and 8th innings. If they keep pitching like this, the Phillies could have a very good back end of the bullpen for the first time in what feels like forever.