The Phillies Aren’t Just Good, They’re Tough as Sh*t

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After five innings, you probably figured it just wasn’t the Phillies’ night.

They trailed the Marlins by only two runs, but with nothing more than an infield single to their credit through five frames against National League Cy Young frontrunner Sandy Alcantara, it was a less than favorable situation. Things were similarly bleak when a JJ Bleday double put the Marlins ahead 3-1 in the eighth. At that point, Miami held an 86% win probability, per Statcast.

No matter.

In their latest best win of the season, the Phillies erased the late deficit by peppering Alcantara with a total of six singles in what was perhaps a season-defining sequence.

They began their charge in the bottom of eighth with consecutive singles from Jean Segura, Bryson Stott, Brandon Marsh, and Kyle Schwarber. It was Schwarber’s hit that both tied the game and appeared to set them up to take the lead:

Rhys Hoskins, however, would line into a double play when Marsh was caught too far off third base to get back in time.

In previous seasons, the Phillies typically wouldn’t even mount this type of two-run rally to tie things up. Years prior, they would make such an untimely base running mistake or stumble into some bad luck, which would almost certainly result in a soul-crushing loss.

This season, at least right now, such hiccups don’t seem to matter. They still had one more out to work with and it was plenty enough.

Alec Bohm kept things moving with a single to right field before J.T. Realmuto gave the Phillies the lead with a run-scoring single to left:

With apologies to Stott’s walk-off blast against the Angels back in early June, which helped ignite this prolonged run, and Nick Castellanos’ late homer down in Atlanta last week, the eighth inning sequence of Wednesday night’s game feels like the most important of the season, or at least to this point.

There are probably plenty of thoughtful, nuanced ways and words to describe this team right now. I am not thoughtful, nor am I nuanced, so the best way I can describe the Phillies?

They are tough as shit.

Teams obviously don’t win without talent, and the Phillies have it. Talent is an undeniable part of the reason they are now 40-19 under Rob Thomson. Some of the key numbers the Phillies have put up since he took over just don’t happen without it:

  • Team ERA: 3.53 (6th)
  • Pitching fWAR: 8.9 (4th)
  • Starters ERA: 3.36 (5th)
  • Bullpen ERA: 3.83 (14th)*
  • Runs scored: 294 (6th)
  • SLG%: .443 (5th)
  • OPS: 760(7th)
  • ISO: .189 (5th)

You will notice the quality balance between pitching and offense, save for maybe the bullpen ERA. Notably, Phillies relievers surrendered 11 earned runs over six innings after “starter” Nick Nelson exited a bullpen game against the Braves last Tuesday. Take away that game, and the bullpen ERA falls to 3.41 — good for sixth-best.

Offensively, these numbers have been primarily accumulated in the absence of Bryce Harper. It makes such output — and the Phillies’ 24-13 mark since he went down — all the more stunning.

But to surge like this? Seven in a row and 12 out of 13?  It requires some intangible, a certain “it.” Call it toughness, resilience, or whatever else you want, but I’ll go with my wording above.

Admittedly, FanGraphs and Statcast have yet to develop a formula that helps quantify or contextualize being tough as shit, but after missing this quality for years, this Phillies team seems to have it in bunches.

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