The bends. Defined as injuries caused by a rapid decrease in the pressure that surrounds you, of either air or water. Now most Phillies fans probably don’t watch games of their favorite team while deep-sea diving, but the highs and lows this team has taken everyone on throughout this season certainly could be comparable to the bends.
There has been a month of phenomenal starting pitching, where Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Taijuan Walker, and Ranger Suarez pitched to their higher capabilities and the results were what you expected. The problem has been the consistency has been about as dependable as Kyle Schwarber’s glove in left field.
Speaking of Schwarber, his crazy season just may be the microcosm of what is the 2023 Phillies. Perhaps the Phillies offensive MVP this season, despite an average that has struggled to be 10 points below the Mendoza line (that’s .200 for those who don’t know). But the team-leading 40 home runs, 89 RBI, and 129 walks cannot be denied.
Nor can the team’s 51-30 record since he was inserted as the team’s leadoff hitter on June 2. That’s a .630 winning percentage over those 81 games. Only the Atlanta Braves have a better winning percentage than that this season. Then add in this torrid version of Trea Turner, the consistent and now powerful Bryce Harper, the trustworthy at-bats of Bryson Stott, the resurgent Nick Castellanos, and so on and so forth when it comes to the offense. And while the bullpen has had some terrific moments that defined them as A-plus leading up to the All-Star Break, they’ve fallen on injuries and hard times recently.
So what does it all mean? That’s the point of this. I don’t know. You don’t know. Maybe even the Phillies and Rob Thomson don’t know. Of course, predicting sports isn’t an exact science. Nothing proved that more than last season’s magical run to the World Series. Could this Phillies team repeat that? Sure. In fact, they are probably better equipped to do so.
Like the bends, it’s going to be a postseason of harrowing ups and downs. That’s pretty much all that can be guaranteed.