With the dishonor of being one of the worst teams in baseball at 45-53 the Phillies are deep into rebuilding mode. Finding themselves in the gutter yet again this season the Phillies have come a long way from their World Series championship teams in the late 2000’s. Ranking 28th of 30 teams in hitting and 14th of 30 in pitching, has led to misery for fans. The most surprising thing has been the flip flop of positioning. Citizens Bank Park has been a notorious hitter friendly park yet no Phillies player is hitting over .300. Unfortunately for Philly fans they’re use to this type of losing and have found ways to keep things entertaining. When the Philly Phanatic is the best part of most games it does not bode well for the team on the field.
There have been many downs and not many ups for the Phillies but there have been some standouts. By far one of the best players for the Phils this year despite his recent struggles has been Odubel Herrera. Herrera hitting .285 with 10 home runs and 33 RBI’s and at only 24 years old is a player a team can build off of, though he’ll need to improve his fielding to achieve that goal. Another nucleus to build off would be Maikel Franco, though only hitting .257 he has 18 home runs and leads the team with 55 runs batted in. Though like Herrera, Fraco needs to work on his fielding and at only 23 has plenty of time to do so. On the pitching side Hector Neris (3-3 2.70) and Jeanmar Gomez (3-2 2.76) have been just a few of the standouts. At 27 and 28 years old respectively each player should be coming into their prime and could steady the top of the rotation for the next 3 to 5 years.
If the Phillies can build off of some of their young players and if their draft prospects pay dividends soon, fans can have more than mascot races and the Phanatics shenanigans to look forward to. If not, you can always join the Phanatic in trying to “catch ’em all”.
The All Star break gives players a respite from a grueling season and the defending National League champions the New York Mets could definitely use the break. Ravaged by injuries the Mets will use the break to get some players healthy and make a late season push. They currently find themselves tied with the Miami Marlins for second place in the NL East at 47-41, trailing the Washington Nationals (54-36). Second place is not where fans and the team expected to be after a trip to the World Series last year.
If the Mets hope to repeat as National League champions they’ll need players to come off the disabled list and contribute to a team that sees themselves only 6 games over .500. Two players the Mets cannot count on for this season are Matt Harvey (lost to thoracic surgery) and we’d be shocked if David Wright came back from neck surgery this year. Noah Syndergaard skipped the All Star game due to shoulder fatigue. Manager Terry Collins during the All Star game said he expected Syndergaard to rest up and be back in form after the break. Despite these injuries the Mets hung on, and are tied for the wild card spot with the Marlins. The National league east crown is not out of the question being six games back but with the way the Nationals have been playing it would be hard but not impossible to overcome.
As with every season there are highs and lows. The lows have been stated, injuries have ravaged the NL champs but they have just enough talent to hang around. The standouts have been some of the usual suspects along with some nice surprises. Syndergaard (9-4 2.56) before his shoulder fatigue was outstanding and at only 23 should be the ace of the rotation for years to come. Yoenis Cespedes is having a great year hitting .302 with 21 home runs and 52 runs batted in. A pleasant surprise has been Steven Matz with his 7-5 record and 3.38 era, garnering consideration for rookie of the year. The other pleasant surprise for Mets fans has been the return of Kelly Johnson. Johnson returning to the Mets after struggling with the Atlanta Braves (31-58) is hitting .308 in 52 at bats with 3 home runs as a Met. If Syndergaard can return to form from shoulder fatigue and if the Mets can avoid any more devastating injuries they’ll be right in the thick of it come October poised to defend their title.