The Philadelphia Phillies have already clinched the National League East. However, they have a lot of time before the playoffs actually begin. Because of this, they definitely need to stay sharp. They do not want to get complacent while they wait.
However, they also have a few things that they need to improve. Let's check out five of these issues right now.
Antonio Bastardo was brilliant earlier this season. He filled in admirably at closer when injuries forced him there, and his season numbers still look pretty good.
He still has a 2.10 ERA with a 0.84 WHIP. The problem is that in this last 10 outings, he has given up six runs. This is definitely not the production that the Phillies need from him in the playoffs.
The starting pitching will probably go to the seventh inning, but it would help to have Bastardo be able to effectively hammer down the eighth.
Philadelphia Phillies fans are used to a powerful offense. The Phillies have that somewhat, but they are still ranked 12th overall in runs scored. They are 17th in batting average with a .252 average. Ryan Howard has been starting to hammer the ball, so these numbers might be able to climb.
I realize that this is a team built on pitching this season, but they obviously have to score to win. Again, they are slightly above average in run scoring, but they do need to improve this aspect of their game.
I alluded to this in the last slide, but Ryan Howard needs to continue hitting the ball hard. In August and September, he has hit home runs at a higher rate than he had for the rest of the season.
It is his job to drive in runs from the middle of the Philadelphia Phillies lineup, and he has been doing that effectively all season. He has 113 RBI, so he is able to do that.
Hitting the ball with a little more average would be a good improvement, but he needs to keep driving in runs like he has been all season.
In September, Chase Utley is only batting .200. He only has one home run and one RBI this month, as well.
The Phillies need to be able to power through the middle of their lineup. I already mentioned how Ryan Howard needs to be able to hit with power he had been showing earlier this year. Utley is also a very important part of the Philadelphia offense. He has the potential, so he just needs to get hot.
I know that I alluded to this in the introduction, and I do not think this has necessarily happened yet. However, the Phillies need to make sure that they do not begin to lose their edge.
Baseball is the most random sport in the world, so it is very important that the Phillies do all that they can increase their probability of winning. Part of this involves making sure that they do not become complacent.
Again, this might not happen. However, if it does, this would be the biggest thing that the Phillies need to improve before the postseason.