We’ve entered a time-warp.
The Phillies are… fun(?) again. I mean, I don’t want to mush them into a 10-game tailspin, but last night – a strong (if brief) outing from Adam Morgan, a quick three-run comeback to match the Indians’ fifth, another strong bullpen outing, and a Ryan Howard walk-off – was the first time in a while I didn’t feel like I was watching a baseball team that was a complete waste.
Until the Indians scored in the fifth, Phils pitching had gone 26 innings without allowing a run. That was the second longest stretch in the majors this year. And though it’s a small sample size, it’s no fluke that Phillies pitching owns three of the top five scoreless streaks this season.
It certainly feels like something is happening here. Not a pennant run, but an obvious shift back to respectability thanks to what I think is Matt Klentak and Andy MacPhail’s focus on data rather than feel. The Phils are in the top five in the majors in every major pitching category, and first in strike outs [fifth in ERA, third in batting average against, fifth in OPS against, third in strikeout-to-walk ratio, first in strikeouts per nine, and fifth in the all-important WAR] with a group of relative unknowns. That doesn’t happen by accident. Sure, there’s still plenty of margin for error in the results… but I’d be lying if I said Klentak wasn’t starting to resemble Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane.