Philadelphia Phillies: 10 Bold Second-Half Predictions
The Philadelphia Phillies are the best team in the MLB this season, and they have had an impressive first half. Under Charlie Manuel, the Phillies have dealt with injuries to Chase Utley, Roy Oswalt, and just about everyone else on the team to go 54-32.
The Phillies have been the most talked about team in baseball since they signed Cliff Lee in the offseason to give them four legitimate aces.
Their rotation was supposed to be historically good. It has been very good, but they have not been historic just yet.
Roy Oswalt has been injured twice (once during the time he spent away from the team), Lee struggled in the beginning of the season, and Vance Worley has picked up the slack.
It's been an interesting first half of the season for the Phillies, and it's time to make or predictions for what will be an exciting second half.
Ryan Howard Breaks out in the Second Half
Ryan Howard is the slugger for the Phillies, and he has been a second-half player before.
Howard is batting .250 this season with 17 home runs and 67 RBI. He has the third most RBI in the MLB, and he is leading the Phillies offensively, but he will do better in the second half if he stays healthy.
In his last full season (2009), Howard hit .257 in the first half, and .305 in the second. He also hit one more home run and seven more RBI in 46 fewer at-bats.
Howard had a down month in May, hitting only .208 with 15 RBI. If he can perform up to his regular level in every month in the second half, then he will have a substantial increase.
Vance Worley Cools Down
Vance Worley has had a very impressive season so far, becoming the fifth ace for the Phillies (if you still count Oswalt as an ace).
Worley is 4-1 with an ERA of 2.20 and a WHIP of 1.22, He has not allowed more than one run in any of his last four starts, and he has an ERA of 0.72 during that stretch.
Worley has only had two games in which he allowed more than one earned run in his 10 games, and he has been absolutely marvelous.
The 23-year-old came into the league and played a small role last season, but he has become a star this season. Unfortunately, there is little doubt that he will eventually cool off.
Worley's pace has been unreal, and we are waiting for the one start in which he allows a lot of runs, and then he ill lose confidence.
MLB teams will be able to figure him out soon, so he will probably have a disappointing second half after this start.
Chase Utley Hits His Stride
Chase Utley is an All-Star second baseman, but he started the season on the DL. Utley made his return in late-May, but he has not looked like his old self.
Utley is batting a solid .284, but his power numbers are down. He has only hit four home runs in 36 games, a pace that would result in only 18 home runs in 164 games, and a max of about 12 or 13 home runs this season.
Utley is still working his way back from the injury, and having a few days off for the All-Star Break is going to really help him. Because of this, Utley will be able to rest or work on his hitting.
When Utley is 100% healthy again, then he will hit his stride and become a good hitter once again.
The Corner-Outfielders Pick Up Their Game
Well...they couldn't get much worse.
The corner-outfielders for the Phillies have been pitiful this season. Ben Francisco was supposed to replace Jayson Werth, but he has been terrible. Domonic Brown was supposed to be a stud in his rookie season, but he has been hurt. Raul Ibanez was supposed to be solid, but he has been too streaky.
Francisco is batting .227 despite starting off well. He has six home runs, but he did not hit one in the month of June, and his last home run was on May 25.
Brown started the year on the DL, but he is back and hitting .228 with five home runs and 13 RBI. Brown hit one home run and knocked in two RBI on June 28, but that was the only game that he did either in his last 10 games.
Ibanez is hitting .231 with nine home runs, but that is because he has had two streaks when he was hitting incredibly well. Unfortunately, those streaks did not last, and one of them was followed with an 0-for-20+ streak. His hot streaks are short, and his power outages are too long.
The corner-outfielders have been dreadful, and they have nowhere to go but up. They will pick up their game because the rest of the season is essentially a tune-up for the postseason. These guys know what they have to do to win it all, and they are going to try to find a way to do it.
Unfortunately, they will probably not hit well in the postseason because they will be facing talented pitchers.
The Team Has Three 20-Win Pitchers
The Phillies have had three of their aces for the whole season, and they have done very well. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels will all win 20 games, with Halladay trying to go for 25.
Halladay is 11-3 with a 2.44 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. He has nasty pitches, and he is always working to get better. He has already racked up six complete games, and he should get 20 wins easily.
Lee started slowly, but has done well of late. He had a streak of three straight shutouts, and had an ERA below 0.30 in June, going 5-0. Lee is 9-6 with an ERA under 3.00 and a WHIP of 1.03. His "spike-curve" is his best pitch, and it's one of the best in the game.
Hamels had the most wins in the MLB for a time, but he has not been getting a lot of run-support. He is 9-4 with an ERA of 2.41 and a WHIP of 0.94. He has gone three straight starts without a win, but when he finally gets some run-support he will get hot.
The Phillies have three of the best pitchers in baseball, and they will all reach 20 wins in 2011.
The Phillies Do Not Make a Big Move at the Trade Deadline
Ruben Amaro Jr. is a mastermind of a GM, but they will not be making any big splashes this season.
Amaro has found way to get Cliff Lee at the trade deadline in 2009, Halladay in the offseason after 2009, Roy Oswalt in 2010, Cliff Lee again in the offseason after 2010, but there will be no big move this year.
Amaro has said that his focus is on pitching at the deadline, but there are not a lot of big-name pitchers who they Phillies could get.
Sure, Heath Bell would be an option for closer, but if the Phillies have to pay for him they won't be able to take him.
There are not a lot of good relievers on the market, and the Phillies are set with their starters. The Phils will probably make a small move, but they will not be making headlines again.
Roy Halladay Repeats as the NL Cy Young
Roy Halladay won the 2010 NL Cy Young in his first year in the NL, and he is poised to do so again.
His numbers are impressive: 11-3, 2.44 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and he could end up reaching 25 wins.
Halladay's main opposition comes from their NL East rival, the Atlanta Braves. Jair Jurrjens is also 11-3, with a lower ERA and a slightly higher WHIP. Jurrjens is a young pitcher at age 25, however, and that makes him susceptible to a collapse.
Halladay has been in this position before, and while the Cy Young Award is not on his mind right now, he has a very good chance of winning it again.
The Team Wins 110 Games
The Philadelphia Phillies have dealt with injury after injury this season, and they have had players struggling the whole time, but they have found a way to win 54 of their first 86 games. That puts them on pace for about 104 games this season if they keep it up.
The Phillies have not had the first half that they could have had, but they are still the best team in the MLB.
If the Phillies play anywhere close to what they are capable of, they should win 110 games at the minimum. This is not a very bold prediction considering the team, but 110 wins is a lot.
The Phillies Win the NL East by at Least 10 Games
The biggest threat to the Phillies in the NL East are the Atlanta Braves. The Braves are 50-36, and are tied with the New York Yankees for the second most wins in the MLB.
The Braves are on pace for just under 100 wins, and if the Phillies get 110 wins as predicted, they will win the division handily.
The Braves will have a great second half just like the Phillies, and they may cut the deficit in the final games of the season, but the Phillies will still win the division by at least 10 games, showing their dominance.
The Phillies Do Not Win the World Series
The Philadelphia Phillies will have the best record in baseball with their 110 wins and three of the best pitchers in baseball with their three 20 game winners, but they will not win the World Series.
The reason that the Phillies lost to the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 NLCS was because of their lack of offense. The Phils have not improved their offense at all, and it will prove to be their downfall.
Only the best pitchers pitch in the postseason, and even though the Phillies will have the best rotation, they will not get the run-support to win it all.
The reason that I did not say that the Phillies will lose IN the World Series is because there is a real chance that they will lose in the NLCS because of their lack of offense.